Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has staked his political future on the Czech Parliament approving plans for a US radar base in the Czech Republic. Mr Schwarzenberg said that if the government failed to push a bilateral agreement on the base through Parliament in the coming months, then he would step aside to let a “better” foreign minister succeed where he had failed. In an interview with Reuters news agency, Mr Schwarzenberg said he was not sure of the government’s chances of success with the radar base treaty since the majority of the population is against the base and a large number of MPs are strongly opposed.
A car with an explosive device attached was discovered last week near a busy mall in Prague, the newspaper Deník reported on Thursday. A police spokesperson told the daily, however, that the explosive device was not functional. The civilian counter-intelligence service BIS are cooperating closely with the police on the case, the newspaper wrote. It is not known yet who planted the bomb.
The Croatian government has officially overturned a ban it imposed on Czech holidaymakers bringing foodstuffs into the country, in the face of strong opposition. The Czech consul in Zagreb Veronika Honcová broke the news to the Czech press on Thursday. The ban, which came into effect on June 1 this year, angered many Czechs to such an extent that they threatened to boycott the country. Croatia has been a popular tourist resort for Czechs since communist times. Last year, an estimated 800,000 Czechs visited the country.
The technical lifespan of almost all of the missiles being used by the Czech military has expired, the Supreme Audit Office said on Thursday. In some cases, a missile’s expiry date had been exceeded over three times. The president of the Audit Office, František Dohnal, said that this posed a serious security risk and that the reliable use of these missiles could no longer be guaranteed. The military has just bought 16 new Swedish RBS missiles, though it still has some missile systems in place dating from the Cold War era.
Czech president Václav Klaus has called the euro “no great success” and has said that the common European currency could soon face a “serious crisis” in a comment piece for the Financial Times on Thursday. Mr Klaus added that growth in the eurozone was slower than in the United States and the European Union as a whole, and said therefore that it was “uncertain” whether the single European currency should be celebrated. President Klaus has long been an outspoken critic of the euro. In April, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek advised against a hasty adoption of the euro in the Czech Republic. His government has refused to set a target date for it.
In related news, President Klaus is set to stay in hospital, where he is currently recovering from a hip operation, for longer than expected. Doctors at Prague’s Bulovka hospital advised the president to prolong his stay in their facility by a couple of days, which Mr Klaus has decided to do. His spokesperson made the announcement on Thursday, adding that the operation had been successful and that Mr Klaus was in a good state of health. He is expected to be discharged from hospital by the beginning of next week. The president’s recovery from the hip-replacement surgery is to last three months, he is unlikely to be out of the office all this time.
The number of children being born in the Czech Republic is on the rise. In the first quarter of this year, some 28,500 births were registered, a figure up 1500 on that of the same period last year. Data released by the Czech Statistical Office on Thursday suggested that in total 10.4 million people are currently living in the Czech Republic. This figure is 20,000 higher than at the end of last year.
Two-thirds of Czechs are for the reintroduction of the death penalty, suggests a poll conducted by the CVVM agency and released on Thursday. Over 60 percent of those questioned said they though the death penalty should exist, while one third of those polled were adamantly against capital punishment. The death penalty was employed in former communist Czechoslovakia, the last execution in Czecholsovakia took place in 1989.
The Czech national football team was beaten 3-1 by Portugal in their second group A game at Euro 2008 in Geneva on Wednesday. Portugal went ahead in the eighth minute with Deco bundling in past goalkeeper Petr Čech. Czechs equalised in the 17th minute with a powerful header from Libor Sionko. However, Ronaldo put Portugal back in front just after the hour, before Quaresma made sure of the result in injury time for the Portugese. The Czech Republic will have to beat Turkey on Sunday to get through to quarter-finals.
In athletics, a new world record was set today at the Ostrava Grand Prix in the north of the Czech Republic by the Ethiopian long-distance runner Dire Tune. Tune smashed the existing One Hour event world record by running 18,517 meters in sixty minutes. This was 177 meters more than the previous world best, set by Kenyan Tegla Loroupe ten years ago. Second in Thursday’s one hour run was Czech Ivana Sekyrová, who ran 16,422 metres.