Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said the Czech Republic is heading for a peripheral position in the EU. In a debate on Czech public television the foreign minister expressed deep discontent with the fact that the Czech prime minister had refused to sign the EU’s fiscal compact. Mr. Schwarzenberg said that the country was heading towards isolation and hinted that his own days in office were numbered. The foreign minister, who has previously stated that he would not want to remain in the post should the country remain outside of the EU mainstream, said he would continue to push for a reversal of this decision for some time longer.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said the public sector must brace for massive lay-offs in the next two years. Speaking at a press briefing held within the Civic Democratic Party’s ideological conference, Mr. Nečas admitted that the planned overhaul of the public sector could leave as many as 24 000 employees jobless –a figure floated by Czech trade unions who have protested the changes. Mr. Nečas said the Czech public sector was overstaffed and inefficient, with some institutions duplicating the work of others.
Zdeněk Jirásek’s directorial debut Poupata (Flower buds) dominated the 2012 Czech Lion awards, picking up four Czech Lions, including that for best Czech film of the year. Alois Nebel by Tomáš Luňák, nominated in eight categories, picked up three awards, while Vaclav Havel’s film debut Leaving converted two out of twelve nominations. The Czech Lion for best screenplay, awarded to the late president in memoriam, was picked up his widow, actress Dagmar Havlová. Actor Josef Somr was awarded a Czech Lion for lifelong contribution to Czech cinematography.
The head of the far-right Workers’ Party of Social Justice Tomáš
Vandas has said he wants to run for president. Mr. Vandas told the ctk news
agency he believed he could collect the required 50,000 signatures for his
candidacy and wanted to launch his electoral campaign at the end of April.
Officially in the running for the top post are former prime ministers Jan Fischer and Miloš Zeman, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, head of the Sovereignty party Jana Bobošíková and Christian Democrat MEP Zuzana Roithova.
The Culture Ministry will subsidize the internet in more than three thousand public libraries around the country, the ctk news agency reports. The decision comes after a wave of protests following an announcement that the government no longer has the funds to sustain the service. The government-funded project which secured internet access in public libraries around the country dates back to 2004, launched alongside gradual digitalization of libraries and requalification of librarians.
The Prague Transport authority has ended extended weekend night services in Prague’s metro and on several bus lines for lack of funds. The extended service by one hour past midnight on Friday and Saturday nights was introduced in 2010 for the convenience of locals and tourists enjoying the nightlife in the city centre. The extended night services ended on midnight Saturday and a group of young people gathered at Prague’s Muzeum station to say a symbolic goodbye to the last train. More public transport restrictions should be introduced in June of this year.
One person is reported to have been seriously injured in an explosion at a gas station in the city of Ostrava, in the eastern part of the country. The blast occurred at mid-day on Sunday and is believed to be related to repair work being undertaken on one of the tanks. The injured man, who is believed to be an employee, was rushed to hospital. Fortunately the gas station was closed to the public for the day. The cause of the explosion is being investigated.
Speaking at his party’s ideological conference, Prime Minister Petr Nečas defended his decision for the Czech Republic to stay out of the EU’s fiscal treaty and slammed the opposition Social Democrats for misleading the public with regard to what it would bring. Mr. Nečas said the Social Democrats were capitalizing on their positive stand to the treaty without telling Czechs that its ratification would effectively prevent them from fulfilling their policy programme. The ideological conference of the Civic Democratic Party is focussing mainly on planned austerity measures in the coming years and the need to communicate them to the public.
The Social Democratic Party has distanced itself from a statement made by party member and MEP Richard Falbr who publicly thanked the Czech prime minister for not signing the EU’s fiscal treaty. Mr. Falbr was the only Social Democrat to openly disagree with his party’s position on the issue, noting that the fiscal treaty had been rejected by the European Trade Union Confederation and that as a former chairman of the Bohemian and Moravian Trade Union Confederation he understood the reasons for that and felt the need to state his position.
Bavarian police are dealing with a steep rise in drug trafficking from the neighbouring Czech Republic. The Bavarian authorities say the problem concerns mainly the home-made drug pervitin, known in Germany as Crystal, which is being smuggled across the border both by Czech dealers and by German nationals who buy it on Czech territory to take home. While in 2009 police confiscated 1 kilogram of the drug, in 2011 the overall amount was 17 kilos. The Bavarian authorities complain that excessive tolerance toward drugs in the Czech Republic is to blame.