President Barack Obama’s administration has denied a report that the
United States had given up on building anti-missile bases in the Czech
Republic and Poland. State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley said the
American government’s strategy on missile defence was under review and no
conclusions had been reached on whether to place missiles in Poland and a
linked radar base on Czech territory. On Thursday the Polish newspaper
Gazeta Wyborcza quoted lobbyists and officials in Washington as saying such
plans had been scrapped.
Russia responded angrily to the project, which it saw as an encroachment in the former Soviet bloc, and threatened to point nuclear warheads at the Czech Republic and Poland.
The Czech Parliament has agreed to allow the US to build a radar in central Bohemia. Opinion polls have consistently suggested that most Czechs are opposed to the idea.
Industrial output in the Czech Republic fell by 18.4 percent year-on-year in July, according to official figures released on Friday. The Czech News Agency quoted analyst Michal Brožka as saying the drop was bigger than expected. But he said an uptick in Western markets should benefit Czech industry, which would probably see a 12-percent fall in output for the whole of 2009.
The Social Democrats would come first if elections were held now, suggests
an opinion poll released by the Factum Invenio agency on Friday. The
survey, conducted earlier this month, indicates that the left-of-centre
party have the backing of 29.5 percent of the electorate, nearly two points
ahead of their main rivals the Civic Democrats. The Communists were
supported by 13.4 percent of those polled, while the new party TOP 09
enjoyed the backing of 11.4 percent. The only other grouping that would
reach the five percent threshold to enter the lower house were the
Christian Democrats, with 6.6 percent.
Czechs go to the polls on October 9 and 10 in early elections which follow the fall of a Civic Democrat-led cabinet in March. Since then a caretaker government has been in place.
The leader of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, has filed a lawsuit against the magazine Reflex over an article it published this week which he says is disrespectful to himself and his wife Petra, who is pregnant. The cover of the weekly features a montage of the couple in a pose referencing a famous photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, in which the former is naked. Mrs Paroubková, whose baby is due in the autumn, was taken to hospital on Thursday, apparently after becoming upset when she saw the image.
The environmental group Greenpeace unfurled a banner on Prague’s Old Town Hall on Friday morning at the precise moment the Czech president, Václav Klaus, was launching a new book attacking Green politics at a café across the street. The Greenpeace sign pointed out that there were only 100 days until a UN climate change conference in Copenhagen and said action had to be taken. Mr Klaus questions received wisdom on global warming, denying that mankind is responsible for it. He also accuses environmentalists of impinging on people’s freedom. The title of the president’s new book translates as Blue Planet Under Threat; it follows 2007’s Blue Planet in Green Shackles.
Meanwhile, Mr Klaus has announced plans to publish a book looking at communism, the fall of that system 20 years ago, and developments since then. In a recent newspaper article he said that it was wrong to believe that the road to freedom and democracy over the last two decades had not been handled well. The president also says the role of individuals in bringing about the end of communism is overrated; he says the Eastern Bloc’s regimes collapsed after reaching a state of exhaustion.
The previous Czech president, Václav Havel, is to discuss “climate change in Czech society” in a video for the Green Party, who he is backing in October’s elections. The Greens are planning to put the one-minute film on their Youtube channel and may also broadcast it on television. Opinion polls suggest the party may not get into the lower house in the elections.
The Prague clubs Slavia and Sparta have both qualified for the group stage of European football’s second-tier competition the Europa League. Slavia lost 2:1 away to Red Star Belgrade on Thursday but went through 3:2 on aggregate, while Sparta beat Maribor 1:0 at home, making it 3:0 on aggregate. Slovan Liberec, Baník Ostrava and Teplice were all knocked out.
Czech President Václav Klaus has stepped into a row over South Bohemian forests, being the first to sign a petition against the Environment Ministry’s handling of a destructive bark beetle epidemic. The bark beetle has destroyed large areas of forest in the Šumava National Park, worrying both citizens and logging companies. The Ministry of the Environment however has taken a hands-off approach to the issue, saying that such epidemics are a natural part of a forest’s ecosystem.
The Czech Transport pilots’ Union has announced that Czech Airline pilots are prepared to go on unlimited strike due to what they call the airline’s attempts to silence critics. The head of the pilots’ union, Filip Gaspar, was reprimanded on Wednesday for allegedly leaking internal information to the press. Flight technicians and engineers are reportedly also considering striking. Mr Gaspar also stated at Thursday’s press conference that there would be no doubt of a strike in the event of his being dismissed.