Czech top officials have spoken out against a possible military intervention in Syria, arguing that it will not help resolve the conflict in the war-torn country. Outgoing Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said on Thursday that there were no legal grounds for military intervention and that he did not believe such a move could help bring about an end to the civil war. President Miloš Zeman likewise argued against military intervention, saying that the conflict in Syria was not a war between “good and evil” but between two evils –a dictator on the one hand and religious fundamentalists on the other.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has adopted a reserved stance on a possible military intervention in Syria. A statement released by the ministry on Wednesday condemns the use of chemical weapons and says the UN inspection team should be given time and space to conclude its mission as thoroughly as possible. The Czech Republic is in favour of a diplomatic and peaceful solution to the conflict in Syria, the statement says, urging the two sides to sign an agreement on a ceasefire and open talks on the country’s political transformation.
Four Czechs have been placed in quarantine in Kazakhstan after coming into contact with bubonic plague sufferers. An outbreak of the disease is reported in the eastern part of the country where over a hundred people are either being treated or are under medical surveillance. The plague claimed its first victim last week – a fifteen year old boy. The Czech Foreign Ministry has issued a travel warning to the country.
The National Reference Laboratory for AIDS said on Thursday that the number of HIV positive people in the Czech Republic has crossed the 2,000 mark. Of those 389 have developed AIDS and 196 people have died of AIDS-related complications. The laboratory warns that the number of HIV positive cases has grown steadily in the past decade and could increase at a geometric rate unless effective action is taken especially among the young generation. In recent years the authorities have earmarked less money for prevention and awareness programs and people no longer see AIDS as a threat.
Pavel Telička, the first Czech European commissioner, will run for the ANO movement of billionaire Andrej Babiš in the 2014 elections to the European Parliament and will assist the movement in campaigning before the early general election due at the end of October. Mr. Telička confirmed the news on Thursday saying he would be responsible for EU related issues with the perspective of leading ANOs list of candidates running in the European elections next year. He said he would not run in the forthcoming election to the lower house of Czech parliament because he would not be able to wind up his other activities by then. Pavel Telička is a consultant for European affairs and one of the owners of the BXL Consulting firm.
Firefighters were called to deal with an emergency at Prague’s Vinohrady hospital on Thursday where employees of the hospital’s pharmacy accidentally spilt a container of acid and were exposed to the vapors which are a strong irritant to the eyes, nose throat and skin. Firemen working in protective suits evacuated 28 people before decontaminating the premises. Two employees were treated at the hospital.
Prague will host its first Festival of Lights from October 17 -20th. The city’s famous landmarks, cultural monuments, historical buildings, streets and other locations will be highlighted by audio-visual projections and events presented by local and international lighting artists. Among the buildings and landmarks highlighted will be the Tower Clock on Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Kampa Museum, Petřín Tower and Prague’s Dancing House.
The Jan Becher liquor company has posted a 171 million crown pre-tax profit in the financial year 2012-2013, which amounts to an 80 million crown loss year-on-year. The company ascribes the drop to the brief period of prohibition in late 2012 enforced in connection with the methanol crisis and the drop in liquor sales in the following months. Becherovka sales suffered not only in the Czech Republic, but in Slovakia, Russia, Germany, Hungary and Ukraine. The appearance of deadly methanol-laced bootleg liquor on the market caused a nation-wide scare, claiming 47 lives. The sale of all spirits plummeted in the wake of the scandal.
Czech football club Viktoria Plzeň has reached the group stage of Europe’s most prestigious club competition, the Champions League, for the second time. The club defeated Slovenia’s Maribor 1:0 on Wednesday and won 4:1 on aggregate to advance. The game’s lone goal came from Stanislav Tecl in the 3rd minute. In 2011/12 Plzeň also advanced to the group stage. A draw will be held in Monaco later on Thursday to determine match-ups in the finals.