The Serbian ambassador to Prague pulled out of the Czech Republic on Sunday morning, following the Czech cabinet’s decision to recognise Kosovo’s independence. Upon his departure, the ambassador Vladimir Vereš said that he thought the Czech government’s move had done much to damage Czech-Serbian relations, but that he hoped the two countries could still cooperate on political and economic matters. The Czech government moved to recognise Kosovo’s independence on Wednesday, on Friday, Czech president Václav Klaus met the outgoing Mr Vereš and said he was ‘ashamed’ of the cabinet’s decision.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra has said that he expects the Czech parliament to make its final decision on the stationing of a US radar base on Czech soil by August. In an interview for state broadcaster Czech Television on Sunday, Mr Vondra said that he expected both American and Czech delegates to have signed the radar agreement and the accompanying SOFA (Status of Forces) agreement by late July. Voices from within the government coalition have called on the government not to put its name to anything before this November’s American presidential elections, which they say, could have a major impact on US foreign policy. On Sunday, Mr Vondra responded to these calls by saying that it was best to sign now – as a new US administration could want the Czechs to pay in part for the radar and its upkeep.
The Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has met his Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi while on holiday in Italy, a government spokesperson has said. Top of the agenda was the forthcoming Czech presidency of the European Union, the government source revealed. The informal meeting with Mr Berlusconi was also attended by Czech Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček. The Czech Government Office said that Mr Topolánek was spending his holiday in Italy on Mr Berlusconi’s invitation.
A six-year-old who was kidnapped and flown to Australia by her father has been brought back to the Czech Republic by her mother, the website tn.cz reported on Sunday. Tereza Vichnarová disappeared at Easter during a long weekend with her father and was flown out of Europe before her mother reported her failure to return home. As Tereza’s father did not break Australian law through his actions, the Czech authorities were helpless, but the girl’s mother flew to Australia and fought a legal battle to have Tereza returned to her care. Mother and child touched down on Czech soil late Saturday evening, the website said.
Artists gathered at Prague’s National Theatre on Sunday to stage a seven-hour concert in protest against the way the arts are funded in the Czech capital. The concert kicks off a series of cultural events called ‘Dny neklidu’ (‘Days of Unrest’), which will include dance, theatre, music and visual art. Organisers of the ‘Days of Unrest’ are unhappy with the way that Prague Town Hall administers its budget for culture, in particular its new system of grants for theatres. Over 20,000 people have signed a petition urging the council to change the current funding system. The councilor responsible for the funding of the arts, Milan Richter, has said that he will look into changing the current system.
The amount that the Czech Republic’s top ten newspapers made from advertising in 2007 was 7.57 billion CZK (476 million USD). This figure is down by 8.6 percent on the previous year’s, and marks the first downturn in revenue generated by advertising to have been recorded in the Czech print media in the last few years. Only two newspapers made more from advertising than ever before – those were the tabloids Šíp and Aha!. The biggest loser in 2007 was Pravo, whose advertising revenue fell by around 25 percent.
In sport, Czech women’s tennis number one Nicole Vaidišová is out of the French Open after losing to her compatriot Iveta Benešová in the first round. Vaidišová lost the first set on a tie-break, 6:7, before collapsing in the second set, which Benešová won 1:6. Unseeded Benešová will now meet either the Russian Anastasia Rodionova or China’s Shuai Peng in the second round. She will be joined in the second round by fellow Czech Lucie Šafařová who beat Sandra Kloesel 6:1, 6:1 on Sunday.
Football, and the Czech team have started their preparation for Euro 2008 by winning a friendly against Austrian third-league team St. Andra 5:1. All twenty of the Czech players selected for the championships had a chance to stretch their legs in the course of the match. Goals came from Koller, Baroš, Fenin, Svěrkoš and Vlček. This match is the first of three such preparatory meetings to get the Czech team into shape for their opener against co-hosts Switzerland in Basel in two weeks’ time.
Sunday sees the start of the Khamoro festival of Roma culture, which will run throughout this week in Prague. This tenth Khamoro fest gets underway on Sunday evening with the bands Guločar and Le čhavendar playing at the capital’s Rock Café. As well as concerts, the festival will consist of an academic conference, flamenco seminars, film showings and an exhibition of contemporary Romany art. According to the organizers, nearly 100 artists from over 8 countries are participating in this year’s festival. More information can be found at www.khamoro.cz.
Czech president Václav Klaus has said that he is ‘ashamed’ of his country’s government following on from its decision to recognise Kosovo’s independence. On Friday, Mr Klaus met the Serbian ambassador to Prague Vladimir Vereš, who is being summoned home from the Czech capital in light of the Czech cabinet’s decision. In a letter to the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes on Saturday, president Klaus said that he had been reminded by Mr Vereš that the Yugoslav government had been one of the few not to ‘betray’ Czechoslovakia following the Prague Spring of 1968, and that he was ‘ashamed’ of his cabinet’s decision. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said in response that he too was extremely sad that the Serbian ambassador to Prague was being withdrawn, but that the Czech government had no choice but to recognise Kosovo’s independence.