The Czech Republic has condemned Russia's recognition of the rebel Georgian provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. The Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalová told the AFP news agency that the Czech Republic recognised “all of Georgia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia were part of it”. The spokeswoman added that “Russia [was] not an impartial player in the conflict”. Other states, including the US and Great Britain and organisations such as NATO also strongly rejected the move on Tuesday by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who signed a decree recognising the two breakaway provinces. AFP reported that the Russian president said in a TV interview that Russia was “not afraid of a new Cold War” although he made clear it was not desired. The Russian president added that matters depended on “the stance of [Russia’s] partners… the world community and partners in the West”. He also said that Russia was “ready for anything”.
The Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has revealed that President Václav Klaus and the Czech government have not been able to reach a consensus on the Russian-Georgian conflict, after a meeting with the president on Tuesday. The Czech president and the government have been at odds over the conflict from earlier this month. The government condemned Russia’s actions in Georgia, including its recognition of the two would-be breakaway provinces on Tuesday. Earlier, President Klaus laid a measure of blame for the recent escalation of events with Georgia itself. Members of the Czech government dedicated to foreign policy and the president were aiming on Tuesday to agree on a common ground on the Georgian conflict ahead of a forthcoming EU summit dedicated to the crisis.
In related news, on Monday the executive council of the ruling Civic Democratic Party called for speeding up talks on Georgia’s entry into NATO. The news was announced by the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs, Alexandr Vondra. The party accused Russia of having taken advantage of division in South Ossetia in a show of force on sovereign territory and Mr Vondra made clear the Civic Democrat leadership was watching with “real concern the true objectives of Russian aggression”. On Monday Russia's parliament passed a motion calling on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to support the areas’ break-away bid - a move which was sharply criticised by the US. Despite an appeal by President George Bush to Mr Medvedev to not go ahead with the move, the Russian president confirmed he had signed a decree Tuesday, in which Russia formally recognised the regions.
The Czech Republic and the United States have reached agreement on the conditions to set up a US anti-missile base in the country, a defence ministry spokesman has said. Andrej Čírtek told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that all major issues had been solved, adding the Czech government could be expected to discuss the proposed Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in September. A key follow-up agreement, it had been held up by a wrangle between Prague and Washington over taxes. Mr Čírtek said that that issue had now been solved, but did not provide details. Sealing the SOFA agreement paves the way for the Czech government to seek parliamentary approval for the US anti-missile package. The main deal on the base was signed back in July by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.
The head of the National Library, Vlastimil Ježek, has made clear he will
not annul an international competition which decided on the design for the
new national library last year, saying such a move could lead to an
arbitration dispute. Mr Ježek made the point in a letter to Culture
Minister Václav Jehlička, the Czech news agency ČTK reported. The
National Library head refused to follow through with the move -
by the Czech Anti-trust Office - on the grounds it might cost the Czech
Republic over a billion crowns in compensation. A design by renowned
Czech-born architect Jan Kaplický was originally chosen as the winner in
the competition and was to have stood on Prague’s Letna plain,
overlooking the city. But the project lost the backing of City Hall, in
dispute over land and funds in the case.
Vlastimil Ježek has written the country’s Ombudsman Otakár Motejl asking his office to investigate the different positions in the dispute.
Czech paedophiles involved in a global Internet network which was uncovered by Bavarian police last week will go unpunished due to the lack of relevant legislation in the Czech Republic at the time the suspects operated at the site. A police representative made the announcement on Tuesday. Czech police managed to confirm more than 1,000 connections from Czech computers to a German child porn website, launched in Konstanz in 2006, but will not be able to prosecute persons who visited the site and downloaded material. At the time, unlike production and distribution, the possession of child porn was not punishable in the Czech Republic. The police also failed to prove that Czech suspects who downloaded child porn from the site distributed any material further.
A member of the Czech military police serving in Afghanistan was wounded on Monday in a traffic accident in the province of Logar, the site of operations for the Czech Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), an army spokeswoman has revealed. The officer suffered minor injuries. The soldier was in a convoy of military police vehicles en route from the Czech base in Logar to Kabul. But his vehicle flipped over following a defect in a wheel. The soldier was airlifted to the US field hospital in Bagram, from where he will now be sent home to the Czech Republic. The Czechs have 400 soldiers in Afghanistan; 200 of them are deployed in Logar.
A study by Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, has suggested that the population of the Czech Republic will decrease by almost one million to some 9.5 million inhabitants by 2060, mainly due to population ageing. At present people over 65 make up less than 15 percent of the Czech population, while in 52 years it will be more than one-third. This trend will also require higher budget expenditures on care for the elderly. The demographic development in other former-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe is similar. Neighbours Slovakia, for example, are to have the oldest population in Europe in 52 years, when its share of citizens over 65 is to make up over 36 percent of all inhabitants.
Fans of American hard rock will have a chance to see American legend Alice Cooper in December in the Czech Republic’s second-largest city, Brno. The appearance will be Cooper’s first in the country in eight years. A promoter said on Tuesday that the show – which will feature horror elements such as fake blood, a giant snake, and a guillotine – will see classic hits by the “shock rock” musician, as well as new songs. Mr Cooper will play Brno on December 2.
Czech footballer Milan Baroš has signed a three-year deal with Turkish giant Galatasaray Istanbul. The former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker leaves the French league’s Olympique Lyon after a year-and-a half. He spent last spring on loan to Portsmouth. Baroš was the top-scorer at Euro 2004 but has been less effective since. The player welcomed the move to the Turkish league, while a Galatasaray representative called Baroš’s joining the team a “major development”.