Štefan Füle, the Czech minister for EU affairs, is to replace Vladimir
Špidla as the country’s next EU commissioner. Mr. Füle was nominated on
the basis of a political agreement between the two strongest parties, the
Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats. Prime Minister Jan Fischer who
mediated the agreement refused to say what portfolio the Czech Republic
would strive for.
The 47-year-old Füle, a career diplomat, served as Czech ambassador to Lithuania (1998-2001) and Britain (2003-2005) and later became head of the Czech Republic's permanent mission in NATO (2005-2009). In May of this year, he became minister for European affairs in Jan Fischer's non-partisan cabinet.
Two soldiers from an elite army unit serving in Afghanistan who wore Nazi emblems on their helmets have been dismissed from the military, Czech Defense Minister Martin Barták announced after Tuesday’s cabinet meeting. Neither will have the right to retirement or severance pay. Their commander, who allegedly tried to cover up the incident, has been suspended pending an investigation. Minister Barták said the soldiers behaviour was unacceptable and tarnished the reputation of Czech units serving abroad. On Monday, the minister dismissed a soldier who confessed that he had trained members of the neo-Nazi group White Justice in hand-to-hand combat.
President Klaus on Tuesday launched his new book “Where Tomorrow Begins” on the fall of communism and the country’s political and economic development in the past 20 years. Although the book is expected to map the president’s own career in Czech politics, Mr. Klaus told readers not to expect any behind-the-scenes stories about himself and his closest associates, saying that the book was largely analytical. During his time in office the president has written over a dozen books on issues ranging from global warming to EU integration.
Restorers working in the Church of St. Haštal in the Old Town believe they have uncovered the grave of St. Agnes of Bohemia a medieval Bohemian princess who chose to live a life of charity and piety in spite of her royal status. The youngest daughter of Bohemian king Přemysl Otakar I, refused a politically arranged marriage, took a vow of poverty and spent her life caring for the ill and needy, even after becoming the Mother Superior of the Prague Clares in 1234. She was canonized by Pope John Paul II in November of 1989. Archeologists will now open the grave to inspect the remains of the person buried there.
A poll conducted by the agency SANEP suggests that 79 percent of Czechs have never read the Bible. However the vast majority of them say they know what’s in it, from their parents, films or other sources. Fifteen percent of respondents said they owned a prized family bible, 14 percent said they had received a copy as a gift and seven percent said they had bought one themselves. Forty-three percent of respondents said the Bible contained useful information even in the present-day.
Prague mayor Pavel Bém was on Tuesday reelected head of the Prague branch of the Civic Democratic Party, beating his challenger for the post deputy Rudolf Blazek. Mr. Bém’s reelection was far from certain. His influence in the party was thought to be waning after he unsuccessfully challenged Civic Democratic Party leader Mirek Topolánek for the top party post in December of 2008 and failed to defend his position as deputy-chairman on a national level.
A nation-wide search is on for a prisoner from the Bory jailhouse who escaped with the help of his wife and an accomplice as prison guards were transporting him to hospital. The two attacked the guards escorting the prisoner and held them at gunpoint before getting into a car with him and driving off. Although the woman reportedly fired her gun once in warning, one was injured. Police have warned people who may come into contact with them to exercise the utmost caution.
A regional court has handed a 37-year-old man a life sentence for the brutal murder of a twenty-year-old student. The murder took place in the summer of 2005 when the girl hitched a ride home to Liberec. The man sexually abused her and then cut her throat for fear that she would report him, later boasting about what he had done to a friend in the pub. Although the man later said he’d made up the story police found enough evidence to convict him. The judge said he had acted with exceptional brutality, clearly had no conscience and posed a serious threat to society.
Former Czech Republic international Vladimír Šmicer will work alongside
national team head coach Michal Bílek as manager having ended his playing
career on Monday, the Czech Football Association said in a statement. The
Slavia Prague midfielder, who retired on Monday after struggling with
injuries, will handle the business side of the team but work closely with
Bílek, who took the top job last month after the Czechs failed to reach
next year's World Cup.
Šmicer was one of the most successful players for club and country winning the Champions League and UEFA Cup with Liverpool, domestic titles with Slavia and Lens and was a member of the Czech team that was runner up in the 1996 European Championships.
The Czech government failed on Monday to agree on the Czech candidate to be its next European Commissioner. The government will now meet for an extraordinary session on Tuesday morning to try and make some progress. Selection of a candidate to fill the plum post has been complicated by the main parties refusing to budge from their demands that their man gets the job. Prime Minister Jan Fisher made the surprise suggestion over the weekend that central bank governor Zdeněk Tůma could get the post. That suggestion got the brush off from the main parties. Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolánek said on Monday that parties should advance new candidates at the latest by Wednesday if there is no breakthrough beforehand. He added that the country’s European reputation is at stake.