President Václav Klaus lent support to Turkey’s EU membership bid on the first of a four-day visit to the country. After talks with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Guel, the Czech president said that he believes Europe needs to be woken up, and that the accession of a large and dynamic country like Turkey could do just that. President Guel thanked Mr Klaus for his well-known support of Turkey’s EU bid and noted that some his sceptical views towards the EU had proven correct. President Klaus is travelling in the company of more than 60 Czech businessmen, which he said was the largest business delegation in Czech history and evidence of great interest in Turkey. A number of business contracts are to be signed between the countries. Among others, the Czech Export Bank is expected to confirm an agreement on financing the construction of port infrastructure and a trade centre in Istanbul.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has reported that the mainstream education system in the Czech Republic eliminates socially disadvantaged children. According to an OECD evaluation given to the Education Ministry on Monday, socially disadvantaged children often end up in special schools for the disabled, although they suffer from no mental handicap. The report is based on information from 2010, however this particular complaint has been made by numerous organisations for many years. The international report also says that too many Czech children are in schools for gifted students, and warns against plans to compile rankings of schools based on testing. Deputy education minister Ladislav Němec says that the ministry is already working on most of the recommendations made in the report.
A majority of regional hospitals did not increase doctors’ salaries in January as per the agreement reached with the Ministry of Health last year. In early 2011, hospital doctors threatened to resign en masse if the ministry did not raise their salaries by 10%. Ultimately they were to receive rises of 6.25%, however hospitals in various regions are not paying the increases due to the decrease in money they are receiving from insurance companies. Some hospitals are negotiating subsidies with regional governments to at least maintain the last year’s salary levels.
The Czech police have charged 15 women with supporting Nazism. The suspects are believed to be involved in a group called Resistance Women Unity, a women´s branch of the Czech neo-Nazi movement National Resistance. The police say that the organisation avows the ideas of other Nazi-era women´s organisations espousing the racial superiority of Aryan women. Most of the women, aged 21 to 32, are suspected of organising far-right events and producing and distributing leaflets and posting texts promoting the RWU on the Internet. Some of the suspects are believed to have ties to the militant right-wing organisation White Justice, which is believed to have organised acts of terrorism. If convicted of promoting and supporting the suppression of human rights they could face up to eight years in prison.
Fugitive Czech businessman Radovan Krejčíř was arrested by South African police on Sunday on suspicion of involvement in an armed robbery in Pretoria last year. Two other men were also detained in connection with the case, in which six individuals held up an electronics store and demanded roughly half a million crowns from the owner. A source close to the investigation reportedly told the South African press that the robbery was an attempt to recover money that the shop owner allegedly owed to Mr Krejčíř. The 43-year-old Krejčíř is also under investigation for insurance fraud in South Africa and was convicted in absentia in the Czech Republic of extensive fraud and conspiracy to murder. He escaped the country and has been living in South Africa since 2007, where authorities have thus far refused to extradite him to the Czech Republic.
Germany and the Czech Republic have signed a treaty to intensify the fight against drug trafficking. The agreement was signed on Monday by Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice and his German counterpart Hans-Peter Friedrich. The volume of drugs smuggled from the Czech Republic and seized by German police, with pervetin (methamphetamine) chief among them has recently shown a steep increase. Czech-German groups operating at the ministries and in the border regions are to help deal with the problem. Czech drivers have complained in recent years of being harassed by German police. Mr Kubice says German road patrols would not stop but would not be increased. He added that he asked the Germans to use official police cars and uniformed police for the checks.
Czech police have arrested an Albanian man sought on an international warrant. A police spokesman told the Czech Press Agency that the 33-year-old suspect was detained in the Moravian town of Hodonín after firing a handgun at a group of men with whom he was involved in a scuffle. No one was injured in the incident. A police dog helped in locating the shooter and the discarded weapon, which was registered as having been stolen in Switzerland. The suspect is wanted for murder in Greece.
Rail traffic in central Bohemia was badly disrupted on Monday by problems relating to the cold snap. Trains in an out of Prague were at a standstill for over two hours as maintenance workers fixed rail tracks damaged by the arctic temperatures. Czech Railways says that all tracks are now functional but the morning fall-out is likely to affect schedules for a few more hours. Temperatures fell to record lows at 75 monitoring stations over the weekend and the frost is reported to have caused extensive damages, leaving many people without heating and water.
The sixth annual National Marriage Week began on Monday, aimed at increasing rates of marriage and children born in wedlock. According to the organisers of the event, which is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Labour, unmarried families tend to be less well-financed, provide a worse education for children and are more often give rise to criminality. The Czech Statistical Office reports that number of children born out of wedlock has nearly doubled in the last ten years to 40%.
Czech Radio is taking part in the first World Radio Day, announced by UNESCO at the end of last year. The occasion is intended to draw attention to the importance of radio, improve access to it and support innovation in the area of new media. Czech Radio’s national, regional and specialised stations have been broadcasting a number of specialised programmes, debates, interviews and reports for the day, which is intended to be an annual event. February 13 was chosen in order to mark the founding of United Nations Radio in 1946.