The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has described himself as a
“dissident” regarding the European Union. He made the comments in
Ireland, where he is on a three-day official state visit. The Irish
government has reacted coolly to Mr Klaus’s plans to hold a private
meeting on Tuesday evening with the man who led the No campaign against
Ireland ratifying the EU’s Lisbon treaty, Declan Ganley. However, Mr
Klaus said his predecessor Václav Havel had met political dissidents while
on state visits, so why shouldn’t he meet an “EU dissident”, which he
also considered himself to be. The Czech president, one of Europe’s most
vocal critics of Lisbon, met Irish President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach
Brian Cowen on Monday.
The Czech Republic is one of the few EU members not to have ratified the Lisbon treaty, aimed at reforming how the bloc is run. The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, said last week that Parliament would vote on the matter during the first few months of next year: that is, during the Czech presidency of the union. However, the document cannot come into force unless Ireland, whose people rejected it in a referendum in June, changes its position.
The Chamber of Deputies has voted to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 14. That is one of a number of changes envisaged in a new criminal code, which would completely overhaul a code created in 1961 that has only been amended since that time; it would also increase jail terms for particularly serious crimes, as well as making greater use of alternative forms of punishment. Speaking after Tuesday’s vote, the minister of justice, Jiří Pospíšil, described it as an historic moment. The new criminal code now has to go before the Senate.
Local organisations of the Civic Democrats in Ostrava and Jičínsko have
become the latest to give their backing to chairman Mirek Topolánek ahead
of a leadership vote at the start of next month. In terms of pledged
support from party branches, Mr Topolánek is ahead of the only other
candidate to date, Prague mayor Pavel Bém, who enjoys considerable support
in the capital.
Prime Minister Topolánek is in favour of the current government with the Christian Democrats and the Greens seeing out its full term. Mr Bém has been critical of the coalition, and there has been speculation he would try to enter some form of power-sharing deal with the opposition Social Democrats.
After initially rejecting the idea, opposition leader Jiří Paroubek now says he does not rule out becoming the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes reported. At the weekend, Prime Minster Mirek Topolánek floated the idea of the leader of the Social Democrats chairing the lower house, in order to ensure the smoother running of the Czech Republic’s first presidency of the EU, from January to July next year. The current chairman is another Social Democrat, MP Miloslav Vlček.
Paintings by two renowned Czech 20th century artists were taken in an armed robbery at a museum in east Bohemia on Tuesday morning. Works by Jan Zrzavý and Václav Špála were stolen from the museum in Nový Bydžov near Hradec Kralové, after an armed man tied up a 68-year-old member of staff. The total value of the items taken, which also included rare books, jewels and coins, was around CZK 4 million.
The Chamber of Deputies has approved a government-sponsored amendment to the banking law doubling guarantees on deposits in Czech banks to EUR 50,000 (around CZK 1.25 m). All 171 MPs present in the lower house on Tuesday voted for the amendment, which was proposed in response to the international banking and credit crisis.
The Czech mint has been producing two-thousand-crown notes instead of the planned two-hundred-crown notes in recent weeks due to an increased demand for cash, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The amount of cash in circulation increased by around 45 billion crowns in the first half of October – normally it would increase by a couple of billion in that period. The rise in demand for cash followed the global financial crisis, the newspaper said.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El-Baradei, has praised Czech safety standards. On a visit to Prague on Tuesday, he said he was very satisfied with Czech nuclear safety standards, which he said were very good. The Czech Republic has two nuclear power stations, Dukovany and Temelín.
Národní třída metro station in Prague will be closed for 10 months during the construction of a new building, rather than the originally expected 12 to 16 months, Prague city councilor Radoslav Šteiner said on Tuesday. The station’s vestibule, which is currently at street level, will be underground when construction work is completed on the Copa centre being built on the site on Spálená St. The centre will feature shops, offices, flats and a car-park and will be linked to the Tesco building which is adjacent to the current Národní třída metro station. Several thousand people signed a petition against the closing of the station.
Baník Ostrava are now second in the Czech football league after beating Mladá Boleslav 2:0 away in the last game of the 13th round on Monday evening. That result leaves Baník four points behind leaders Slavia Prague and one in front of Mladá Boleslav, who are in third. There are three rounds of the league left before the winter break.