The Czech Republic, unlike its Eastern neighbour Slovakia, is not ready to adopt the single European currency in the near future, according to a report issued by the European Commission on Wednesday. The country doesn’t meet the Maastricht criteria on exchange rate and currency stability. The European Commission on Wednesday gave Slovakia the green light for euro adoption, clearing the way for it to become the zones 16th member and the second country from Eastern Europe’s former communist bloc to join.
The foreign ministry has decided to earmark another 2.5 million crowns for the victims of the devastating cyclone in Burma. The Czech government is sending altogether 5 million crowns to the devastated region. People in Need and Charity of the Czech Republic have already set up special accounts for public contributions. The cyclone Nargis has so far claimed more than 22.500 people, while another 41,000 are missing.
Foreigners staying in the Czech Republic will face fewer restrictions when marrying a Czech national, under an amendment passed by the lower chamber of Czech parliament on Wednesday. Foreigners facing expulsion or registered as persona non grata will be able to enter into marriage or registered partnership in case they submit a police certificate justifying their stay in the country. The legislation is yet to be discussed by the Senate.
Czech football hooligans who violate law during a match will be prosecuted directly at stadiums under a new system designed by the interior and justice ministries. Under the plan, judges will be present during matches to issue verdicts right on the spot. The system will be tested on Saturday at a match between Slavia Praha and Baník Ostrava, with a provisional courtroom established at Prague’s Letná stadium.
The Communist Party which has the largest number of rank and file members among Czech parties is gradually shrinking. Last year 16 people on average left the party each day. At the end of 2007 the Communist Party had some 77, 000 members, in contrast to 1990s, when its rank and file amounted to around 300,000. The party is also gradually ageing; the average age of its members is currently 70 years.
The wife of the former Czech president Václav Havel Dagmar Havlová will
not star in the premiere of his new play “Leaving” (Odcházení) which
is to premiere in Prague’s Archa Theatre on May 22. Mr. Havel originally
wrote the leading female role for his wife Dagmar and insisted on her
getting the part, but a spokeswoman for the theatre said the former first
lady was severely overworked and was forced to cut back on her activities.
“Leaving” has been dogged by problems ever since it was published. It was originally to be staged by the National Theatre but negotiations failed after the theatre refused to cast Dagmar Havlová in the lead role. The project was also turned down by Divadlo Na Vinohradech due to a lack of money. The first foreign premiere of Leaving will take place in London’s Orange Theatre on September 19.
Festival of animated films Anifest gets underway on Wednesday in the south Bohemian town of Třeboň. The 7th Anifest will screen more than 600 films from 59 countries. Among the 499 films in competition will be feature-length and short films, advertisements, music videos as well as student films. The festival will continue until May 13.
Slavia’s new football stadium in Prague’s district of Vršovice opens on Wednesday with an exhibition match between Slavia Praha and Oxford University AFC. The construction of the stadium cost 1 billion crowns (approximately 60 million US dollars); it has 21,000 seats and also includes a hotel and a bank.
The lower house of Parliament has postponed until June a debate on a controversial bill on church restitutions. The bill came under fire from opposition Social Democrats who said they were ready to file a constitutional complaint against it if it was approved in its present form. Under the bill, the state would return some of the church property confiscated by the communist regime and compensate religious orders for the rest. The compensation money would be paid out over a period of 60 years and would amount to 270 billion crowns. The opposition, and even some coalition deputies say this sum is outrageous and are demanding to know how government and church representatives had arrived at that figure.
The Supreme Court of Ireland on Tuesday upheld a 2007 verdict saying Czech Tomáš Půta and Slovak Maroš Šulej, alleged members of the infamous Berdych crime ring, may be extradited to the Czech Republic. Půta and Šulej were detained in Ireland on an Interpol arrest warrant in August 2006. They have been in Irish custody since then. Last year, a lower-level Irish court decided there were no obstacles to their extradition to the Czech Republic, but both men appealed the verdict. Půta and Šulej, a former member of a Slovak riot police unit, have been prosecuted in the largest organised crime case in the Czech Republic in which elite policemen were involved. The Berdych gang is suspected of murders, robberies and extortion of rich entrepreneurs.