President Václav Klaus on Friday signed into law a bill confirming former president Václav Havel’s role in modern Czech history. The bill, which states that “Václav Havel served freedom and democracy”, was approved by both houses of the Czech Parliament where it received backing from all political parties with the exception of the communists. Two other Czech leaders were similarly honoured in the past: Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk in 1937 and Edvard Beneš in 2004. Former president, dissident and playwright Václav Havel died in December at the age of 75.
The Czech Republic’s telecoms regulator has launched proceedings against
the country’s three mobile phone operators to make them slash charges
handling calls by 50 percent in 2013, according to a report released by
Czech Telecommunications Office on Friday. Telefónica, T-Mobile and
Vodafone should gradually cut down their fees from the current 1.08 crowns
per minute to 0.55 crowns next year, the report said. The head of the
Telecommunications Office, Petr Dvořák, said it would by up to the
operators whether they will also accordingly adjust their prices for end
The Czech regulator recently came under criticism for failing to enforce cheaper mobile phone call prices. Critics say that prices in the Czech Republic are among the highest in all OECD countries.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to visit the Czech Republic in early April, Czech Radio reported on Friday quoting diplomatic sources from both countries. Ms Merkel will come to mark the 20th anniversary of the Czech-German Declaration, a document that brought reconciliation into the mutual relations of the two countries after the burdens of the 20th century. During her one-and-half-day’s stay, Chancellor Merkel will meet with Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas and President Václav Klaus.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has denied media reports he was quitting the country’s centre-right government over disputes with the prime minister. The Czech news-website Insider reported on Thursday that Mr Schwarzenberg had decided to step down in protest against the prime minister’s refusal to join the EU’s fiscal treaty. However, the report was denied by both Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg who said the reporters were “losing their minds”.
Czech health workers’ trade unions on Friday warned against planned
restrictions of access to health care. Union leaders called on Health
Minister Leoš Heger to reconsider the move; in support of their demands,
the unions will stage a rally outside the health ministry building on
27, the head of the union Dagmar Žitníková said.
The Health Ministry is planning to overhaul the system of providing health care so that patients have guaranteed access to all specialists within 40 minutes’ drive from their homes. The unions say however this will drastically restrict health care in the regions, and will in effect lead to the closing down of hospitals, polyclinics as well as doctors’ practices.
Czech school trade unions on Friday went on “strike alert” over further spending cuts planned for this year by the Finance Ministry. Under the new austerity measures, regional schools could lose up to 3.4 billion crowns which would mean a drop in salaries by 1,200 crowns per employee, the head of the trade union František Dobšík said. The unions warned that they will go on strike if the government does not reconsider its plans.
The popular Czech film and theatre actor Bronislav Poloczek died on Friday at the age of 72, a spokesman for Prague’s National Theatre said. Mr Poloczek, who was an ethnic Pole, appeared in his first film in 1960. In 1988, Bronislav Poloczek joined the National Theatre in Prague. His role in the 1992 film Černí baroni, or Black Barons, about a communist-era military unit made up of the regime’s opponents, brought him nationwide popularity.
Police in central Moravia have raided two marijuana farms, confiscating over 1,000 cannabis plants and more than 16 kilograms of dried marijuana, a police chief said on Friday, adding the street value of the drug is estimated at three million crowns. The police also arrested two men aged 27 and 37 who face up to 12 years in prison for the production of illicit substances.
Chelsea FC with Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech were drawn against the Portuguese side Benfica Lisbon in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. The first leg is scheduled for March 27 or 28 in Lisbon, while the second is to be played in London on April 3 or 4. Petr Čech has welcomed the draw but warned Benfica was a strong opponent which knocked out Russia’s FC Zenit. Chelsea FC secured a spot in the Champions League’s last 16 when on Wednesday they defeated Italy’s SSC Napoli 4:1 in extra time after having lost 3:1 in the first leg in Naples.
Record high temperatures were registered at over 40 weather stations across the Czech Republic on Friday, with temperature hikes of six and seven degrees Celsius over the last 24 hours. The highest temperature of 20.4 degrees was recorded in Český Krumlov. The oldest record – 15.1 degrees Celsius from 1899 – was broken in the central Bohemian town of Příbram.