A group of Eurosceptic senators who are vehemently opposed to the Lisbon treaty have found a new way of attacking it in court. They are preparing to question the validity of a recently adopted law that is to prevent the transfer of national powers to the EU without Parliament's consent on the grounds that it was not approved by a constitutional majority. The law was approved by both houses of Parliament and was decisive in winning support for the Lisbon treaty. Legal experts have made it clear that the senators would have little success in attacking the treaty itself. The Lisbon treaty still has to be signed by President Klaus who has said he will delay the process for as long as possible.
The anti-corruption unit of the Czech military police is being scrapped within extensive cost-cutting measures in the armed forces. The unit is to end its work on October 1st with many of its top experts leaving the armed forces. Its duties will be transferred to another department. The decision has been criticized by the former defense minister Vlasta Parkanová and there is speculation that the unit is being scrapped because it was too uncompromising in its work. The daily Mladá fronta Dnes notes that not long ago the unit uncovered extensive fraud involving 50 top military officers.
Aviation giant Air France-KLM, Europe’s biggest airline, has dropped its bid to buy the Czech state carrier Czech Airlines, leaving just one Czech bidder in the running. Air France-KLM confirmed the news on Wednesday, saying that the current economic environment was behind its decision. The Czech Republic announced a tender in February offering its entire 91.5 percent stake in the airline. The French-based giant’s withdrawal leaves only the Czech company Unimex group in the running. A final decision is expected by September 30.
The Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama is to visit Prague in September where he will attend a conference on democracy and human rights in Asia organized by the foundation Forum 2,000. The Dalai Lama is a close friend of the former Czech president Václav Havel and has visited Prague eight times at his invitation. He was last here in 2008 on the first leg of a European tour.
The former Czech president Václav Havel is among the personalities invited to a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI during his upcoming visit to Prague, the ctk news agency has reported. The meeting in the Spanish Hall of Prague Castle on September 26 will be attended by politicians, leading cultural figures and diplomats. The Pope is to visit the Czech Republic on September 26-28 at the invitation of President Vaclav Klaus. During his visit, he will celebrate masses in Brno and in Stara Boleslav, central Bohemia, in honour of St Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech nation.
The Czech government will close down six of the thirteen Euro-centres currently operating in the country within extensive cost-cutting measures. The centres provided information to people in the regions about study and work opportunities in the 27-member block and about available subsidies from EU funds. The branches of the Europe Direct information network whose activities are subsidized by the EU will continue to function in the country.
Barbora Špotáková came second in the javelin at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin on Tuesday night. The defending champion finished behind the home favourite Steffi Nerius, whose throw of 67.30 metres was 88 centimetres further than the Czech athlete’s best effort. Špotáková, who is 28, is currently Olympic javelin champion and holds the women’s world record in the sport, 72.28 metres.
Moscow is reported to have expelled two Czech diplomats in retaliation for
the expulsion of two officials at the Russian embassy in Prague on
suspicion of spying. The decision to expel them was based on information
received from the Czech intelligence services, the news website novinky.cz
reported. TV Nova said the two Russian diplomats had been expelled on
Monday after attempting to establish contact with staff at the Czech
defence ministry; it reported that they were particularly interested in the
Czech army and US plans to build a radar base in central Bohemia.
On Tuesday Interfax reported that Russia had retaliated in kind and ordered two diplomats from the Czech embassy in Moscow to leave. The news agency quoted a Russian official as saying Prague’s unfriendly step had not gone unanswered.
Relations between the Czech Republic and Russia cooled over the former’s plans to host a US radar base that would be part of a global anti-missile defence system and Prague’s support for Georgia during last August’s war.