Jiří Čunek, the leader of the Czech Christian Democratic party has rejected a proposed set of conditions laid down by the head of the governing Civic Democratic party Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek for his return to the cabinet. Mr Čunek described the conditions, which centre on Christian Democrat support of future government legislation and also a general loyalty to the coalition by the party as “humiliating.” Jíří Čunek was forced to leave the coalition cabinet following a series of bribery allegations, although he still remains party leader. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has described the conditions as an effort to ensure the future viability of the current coalition, something many analysts believe is threatened by the return of Mr Čunek to the cabinet.
The Czech President Václav Klaus has delivered a speech questioning the existence of man-made global warming at the Heartland Institute's 2008 International Conference on Climate Change in New York. Speaking at the event on Tuesday, which was attended by around 100 speakers and panellists, Mr Klaus told the assembled guests that "There is no reason to make orchestrated changes now - especially with arguments based on such an incomplete and faulty science as that demonstrated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” Mr. Klaus is a well-known critic of global warming as well as the IPCC which he has previously described as a heavily politicised body. The Heartland institute is a free-market oriented think-tank based in Chicago with close ties to US corporations such as ExxonMobil, Phillip Morris and General Motors.
The Czech government has announced that it may block a proposed plan by the European Commission to auction Carbon Dioxide permits after 2012. The proposals, which have been broadly welcomed across Europe, extend the EUs Emissions Trading Scheme, which seeks to cut CO2 emissions by 20% on 1990 levels by 2020. The current trading system allows companies free emissions permits, but in future they will have to buy these allowances, significantly increasing costs. Several new EU states have voiced opposition to the plans, saying that the proposals would hurt their more coal-dependant economies.
Jiří Paroubek, the leader of the opposition Social Democrats has announced that he wants his party to conduct an internal referendum on whether to approve the placement of a US military radar base on Czech soil. The comments came after Mr Paroubek concluded a meeting with members of the anti-radar civic group Ne základnám or No Bases. He also added that any Social Democrat MP in favour of the base should not run as a Social Democrat party member in future general elections. The referendum is set to extend to the entire party membership and reflects a growing opposition to the base by the Social Democratic party, which is also set to attend a protest against the radar organized by Ne základnám on 15 March.
Czech police are investigating the disappearance of a quarter of a million Euros from a Czech Airlines plane last week. According to the Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes, the airplane stopped off in Prague en route to the Estonian capital Tallinn from London. The plane was carrying billions of Euros in cash, as part of a routine trip from a money-printing facility. Investigators are looking into whether somebody working at the airport managed to pocket a bag containing a quarter of a million Euros during the plane’s stop-over in Prague. However, investigators are also looking at the possibility that the money may have been stolen in Estonia, where the plane landed shortly thereafter – its cargo was later returned to Prague after the missing money was not accounted for by the Estonian authorities.
Czech lawmakers have proposed a law which would see Czech drivers paying to receive police-assistance. The law, which is yet to be debated by MPs, would mean that Czech police would no longer investigate or log car accidents in which there were no injuries. The change would see drivers paying between 100-1000 crowns for calling in police assistance for accidents deemed to be of little consequence. At present, the law states that police intervention is not required if a car accident creates less than 50,000 crowns damage. The new law would see that figure rise to 250,000. Advocates of the law argue that it will free up the police to focus on more serious incidents.
On Friday, President Klaus is set to be inaugurated for a second term. It has been revealed that he will sign his presidential pledge with a platinum-plated pen said to be worth up to a million crowns. The pen has been donated to Mr Klaus by the Czech company Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth and is one of a limited collection of ten.
Analysts at the Swiss UBS bank have pronounced that they are fairly certain that the Czech Republic will win the Euro 2008 football competition this summer. The analysts at the bank have apparently devised a formula, which calculates current team performance as well as the financial values of individual players. According to UBS, the same formula allowed them to correctly predict that Italy would win the World Cup in 2006. Specifically, the prediction is that the Czech Republic will win the championships after beating Italy on penalties.
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has presented a prime minister’s medal to Milan Paumer, a member of the armed anti-communist group led by Josef and Ctirad Mašín. The three killed six people including a cashier before and during a dramatic escape to West Germany in 1953; other members of their group were later executed. Last week the prime minister presented the same award to Josef Mašín at the Czech Embassy in Washington, the first ever official recognition of the group. Czech society is divided over their actions: some regard the men as freedom fighters, others believe they are murderers.