The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, says his country will provide neighbouring Austria with all available information relating to the planned building of a nuclear waste repository. Mr. Zaorálek made the comment on Tuesday after a meeting with his Austrian counterpart, Sebastian Kurz, in Mikulov, a town on the Czech side of the two states’ joint border. Austria has been a long-term opponent of nuclear power and says it will take all possible political and legal steps to prevent the Czech Republic building the nuclear waste repository. Seven locations are being considered for the facility, which should be in operation from 2065, including a number close to the Austrian border.
The Czech Army would like the government to increase the number of Gripen supersonic fighter jets at its disposal from the current 14 to 20 due to the security situation in Europe. The chief of the country’s air force, Brigadier General Libor Štefánik, said on Tuesday that it was just daydreaming to imagine that the international security situation would calm; he said it was not time for the Czech Republic to close its eyes to what it could probably expect in future. The government has already signed an extension to a contract under which it has leased 14 Gripens for a 10-year period at a cost of CZK 20 billion.
Over 60 percent of Czechs believe that work opportunities, social certainty and personal safety were greater prior to the fall of communism, suggests an opinion poll by CVVM published on Tuesday. By contrast, respondents expressed satisfaction with the amount of freedom they now enjoy; around 80 percent of those polled said that opportunities to study and work abroad had improved since 1989, as had access to free information. Two-thirds of those polled said they thought the political changes had been “worth it”.
Official estimates of the economic damage caused by organised crime in the Czech Republic have been revised sharply upwards. Czech Television reported on Tuesday that the Ministry of the Interior’s anti-mafia plan had in the past put the damage at hundreds of millions of crowns a year. However, in the first half of 2014 the Ministry believes that organised crime cost the state CZK 11 billion. The government is due to discuss the ministry’s latest strategy paper on Wednesday, when ministers will also discuss a new criminal code.
President Miloš Zeman was the target of verbal abuse during a visit to Opava in northern Moravia on Tuesday. When Mr. Zeman appeared on the main square in the town demonstrators shouted “shame on Opava” and “Russian cockroach”, the latter evidently a reference to his perceived support for Moscow. People also carried signs playing on swear words the president used in a recent radio interview. Mr. Zeman told journalists that loudmouths were to be found everywhere and one had to get used to them in democracy.
Forty-thousand people have signed a petition organised by the Civic Democrats calling for a referendum on whether the Czech Republic should adopt the common European currency. The leader of the right-wing opposition party, Petr Fiala, said on Tuesday that repeated opinion polls had suggested two-thirds of the population were opposed to bringing in the euro. The first deputy leader of the Civic Democrats, Jan Zahradil, said the petition represented a call on the Czech government to negotiate an exception under which the country would not have to adopt the currency.
A number of valuable works by Czech artists are set to go under the hammer at Sotheby’s in London on Wednesday. The auction house is selling off the collection of US couple Mary and Roy Cullen, who have amassed over a 100 pieces by Czech avant-garde artists in the last quarter century. Among the most sought after works is likely to be Message from the Forest by Toyen, which is expected to go for up to GBP 1 million.
The Czech ice hockey player Jaromír Jágr is now joint sixth all-time highest scorer in the history of the NHL after finding the net for his club New Jersey Devils in a 2:4 defeat to Boston Bruins on Monday. Jágr, who is 42, now has 708 goals, the same number as Mike Gartner. The Kladno-born right wing has achieved that tally despite leaving the NHL to play for Omsk in the Russian-centred Kontinental Hockey League between 2008 and 2011.
The first wine of the season, the so-called Saint Martin’s wine, will go on sale on Tuesday in the Czech Republic. The day of Saint Martin, which is celebrated in the country on November 11, has become an occasion for winemakers to present their young wines. First bottles of Saint Martin will be opened at 11 am on Tuesday at events all over the country. In Prague, festivities will be held in Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad and other places. Nearly 2 million bottles of Saint Martin’s were sold last year.
The Czech Republic will commemorate Veterans Day with a number of events on Tuesday. Several events are being held to mark the occasion, including a ceremony at the national memorial on Prague’s Vítkov Hill and the decoration of sixteen war veterans by defence minister Martin Stropnický. A service conducted by the Archbishop of Prague, Dominik Duka, will also be held at the Church of St. John of Nepomuk in Hradčany.