The Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, warned on Wednesday that there was a "looming danger" of an arms race in outer space and urged countries not to deploy missile defence systems that could undermine global security. Speaking at a disarmament conference in Geneva, the Chinese official said that the practice of seeking absolute strategic advantage should be abandoned. US President Barack Obama has been reviewing a planned missile defence shield championed by his predecessor, which would be based in the Czech Republic and Poland. The project remains a major source of tension with Russia which threatened to aim its missiles at the installations, once they are completed.
The Czech Army has stopped recruiting soldiers due to the economic crisis. Deputy Chief of General Staff Josef Prokš told the Czech news agency ČTK on Wednesday that the army will not take on new recruits for at least another year, and it’s unclear when recruitment will resume. Due to the economic crisis, the Czech military is planning to let go 1800 employees by the end of the year, and another 2700 in the coming years. This will save some two billion crowns, or more than 109 million US dollars. Some recently-recruited soldiers have been complaining that the army is planning to let them go only months after they were taken on. The fully professional Czech Army employs 34 000 people, while 24 000 of them are soldiers.
US pop star Madonna arrived in Prague on Wednesday where she’ll be giving a concert within her Sticky and Sweet European tour. Madonna is staying at Prague’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel and no details have been released of her private programme. Her concert on Thursday on the outskirts of Prague is expected to attract some 40,000 people from the Czech Republic and surrounding countries. The most expensive tickets have been sold out, but standing-room tickets are still available. This will be Madonna’s third concert in the Czech capital.
Czech President Václav Klaus has singed an amendment to the criminal code which sets the age of criminal responsibility in the Czech Republic at 15. The age will therefore remain the same despite the fact that the new criminal code, which comes into effect in January, had counted on lowering the age of criminal responsibility, as well as sexual consent, by one year.
President Václav Klaus awarded violin virtuoso Josef Suk an honorary plaque at Lány Chateau on Wednesday on the occasion of Mr Suk’s 80th birthday. Josef Suk, great-grandson of the composer Antonín Dvořák, is one of the most significant violin players of the 20th century. During his career spanning more than five decades, he has performed around the world, and focused particularly on classicist and romantic music.
Former prime minister, and Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek has rejected a bid to live on 10,000 crowns, or some 550 US dollars, for a month. Social Democrat MP Zdeněk Škromach asked the former cabinet leader to take part in an experiment that involves living on a typical retirement pension. For his part, Mirek Topolánek said that the bid was a populist move by the Social Democrats, and that he was focusing on a positive campaign ahead of the early general elections scheduled for October.
Jiří Novák is the most common name in the Czech Republic, according to figures released by the Interior Ministry on Tuesday. There are 2385 men with this name living in the country, followed by 2273 Petr Nováks and 1844 Jiří Svobodas. The most common female name is Marie Nováková, with 2252 women with that name. Curiously, there are also 119 men who share their name with the former Czech president, Václav Havel.
The Czech Republic beat Belgium 3:1 in a friendly game in Teplice on Wednesday, clinching its first victory under the manager, Ivan Hašek. Belgium took the lead in the 12th minute with a powerful shot by Jan Vertonghen, but Czech Republic’s Hubník equalized with a rebound 15 minutes later. Just four minutes before the break, Václav Svěrkoš got fouled inside the box and Milan Baroš scored from the kick spot, getting his first goal for the national side in nearly a year. In the second half, the Czechs pushed for more and had some great opportunities which materialized in 79th minute when defender David Rozehnal scored his first goal for the Czech international squad.
The Czech Republic beat Ukraine 71:64 in a Eurobasket Relegation Round game in Prague on Tuesday. The Czechs were leading from the early stages of the game but lost their lead in the third quarter. However, the Czech team came back in the last quarter, securing their second victory in the four member group. Two bottom teams will be relegated to EuroBasket Division B, and Tuesday’s victory has raised Czech hopes of remaining in the elite Eurobasket division this season. The Czech Republic will next play Estonia in Prague on Saturday.
Former Czech president Václav Havel has condemned the 18-month house arrest a Burmese court imposed on opposition leader and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi on Tuesday. Mr. Havel said he considers the verdict "scandalous" and typical of "the political cynicism of one of the toughest totalitarian regimes in the world." Aung San Suu Kyi has spent more than 13 years under house arrest. Her latest sentence was to expire in May of this year, but she was given another sentence on the pretext of having let an uninvited U.S. citizen spend a night in her house. Commentators say this is clearly an attempt to prevent her running in next year's elections.