Some 30,000 Czechs commemorated on Saturday the 1145th anniversary of the
arrival of the Christian missionaries Cyril and Methodius. A public holiday
in the Czech Republic, the anniversary was marked by the annual national
pilgrimage to Velehrad, one of Moravia’s most important Catholic centres
where Roman Cardinal Giovanni Coppa, together with Bohemian and Moravian
bishops, celebrated a festive holly mass to mark the event.
The brothers Cyril and Methodius, originally from Thessaloniki, arrived in Moravia in 863 to spread the gospel in a Slavic language; for that they also designed a script known as the Cyrillic alphabet.
Former Czech President Václav Havel said that the Czech Republic should
press on with the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Havel told
Financial Times on Friday that the treaty should be kept alive in spite of
its rejection in the Irish vote. Once the treaty is ratified, the EU should
consider creating “a beautiful, simple constitution that children could
learn about at school”.
The Czech Republic has not yet started the ratification process of the document; the country’s Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the treaty to see whether it is in line with the Czech law.
Bathory by Juraj Jakubisko, the most expensive central European film ever made, premiered at the 43rd Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday. The movie stars English actress Anna Friel in the role of the 17th century Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory, famous for alleged serial murders. The film, co-produced by Czech companies, cost around 320 million crowns, or more than 21 million U.S. dollars. At the premiere, the Prague-based Slovak director Juraj Jakubisko was also awarded a Crystal Glove for his contribution to filmmaking.
Czech reserve troops returned from a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo on Friday. 116 Czech reserve troops were deployed in Kosovo at the beginning of March after the former Serbian province declared independence. During their mission, the soldiers helped the multi-national KFOR forces maintain order in the northern regions of Kosovo. The troops will be on alert until the end of July but do not expect to be called back. The regular Czech KFOR contingent remains in Kosovo.
The 50th International Opera Festival Smetana’s Litomyšl concluded on Saturday with a Solo for Ladies. The concert featured singers Eleonore Marguerre, Arpiné Rahdjian and Zoryana Kushpler performing famous opera arias and duets. The three-week opera festival, held in the birthplace of the famous 19th century Czech composer Bedřich Smetana, has seen one of the most successful years in its history, having sold more than 20,000 tickets.
The governor of the Central Bohemia Region Pavel Bendl, along with several mayors of the region, are set to appear in a musical based on the novel “Postřižiny” by the late Bohumil Hrabal. The musical will only be staged in three venues in Central Bohemia during the summer. The novel, known in English as “Cutting it Short”, was first published illegally in 1974.
Around 4,000 people watched the re-enactment of an 1866 battle between Austrians and Prussians in Chlum, eastern Bohemia, on Saturday. More than 400 enthusiasts, with 30 horses and 20 cannons, took part in the re-enactment. The original Battle of Chlum occurred on July 3, 1866 between the armies of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia, as part of the Austro-Prussian War.
Libor Kozák, a 19-year-old footballer from Opava, in Silesia, signed a five-year contract on Saturday with Lazio Roma, one of the best clubs of the first Italian division. The Rome-based club will pay 1.2 million euros for the Czech forward. Libor Kozák scored 11 goals for the second-division team of Opava; he is also on the under-19 Czech national football team.
The US State Department has confirmed that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will travel to Prague next week to sign an agreement with Czech representatives on the stationing of a US radar base on Czech territory. The base is meant to operate within a broader US defense shield in Europe. The State Department has confirmed that Mrs Rice will arrive on Tuesday morning. Following her arrival she will meet with Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and the signing ceremony itself has been slated for Tuesday afternoon. Once confirmed, the treaty will still have to be approved by Parliament and signed by the president. The United States wants to install its tracking radar in the Czech Republic in tandem with interceptor rockets in Poland to prevent potential attacks from so-called “rogue” states
In related news, Social Democrat deputy chairman Lubomír Zaorálek has maintained the planned Czech-US agreement on a tracking radar base in the Czech Republic contradicts the Lisbon Treaty. Mr. Zaorálek said the planned agreement went against the idea of joint European security policy as defined by the stalled reform document. He made the comments earlier this week, maintaining that if the treaty were in force today, member states would have to consult bilateral security treaties together.