The center-right opposition parties TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats say they will call for a special session of the lower house of Parliament to debate the recent joint proclamation of leading Czech officials to reassure China of the Czech Republic’s continued interest in developing close ties with the country and saying the Czech Republic fully respects China’s territorial integrity. The proclamation came in connection with a visit to Prague by the Dalai Lama and his meeting with Culture Minister Daniel Herman. Opposition parties and the Christian Democrats of the ruling coalition have criticized the proclamation for its submissive tone saying that it degraded the Czech Republic and was a throw-back to the communist days. Right-wing senators have called on the chamber’s speaker Milan Stěch, who is running for re-election, to distance himself from the proclamation he signed or forego their support.
Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip has called on Culture Minister Daniel Herman to resign for “repeatedly breaking his oath of office”. The party leader accused Mr. Herman of lying when he said the president had crossed his uncle, Holocaust survivor George Brady, off the list of nominees for a state award and he once again criticized him for having attended the annual conference of the Sudeten Sudeten-German Landsmannschaft in Nuremberg in May of this year. At the meeting Culture Minister Herman expressed regret over the injustices that had broken up long years of fruitful coexistence between the nations, speaking both about the crimes of the Nazi regime as well as the violent acts of revenge committed during the post-war transfer of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia. The Communist Party leader said Herman’s actions damaged the country adding that if he did not resign of his own accord he would ask the prime minister to recall him. Culture Minister Herman, who attended the Landsmannschaft meeting as an official representative of the Czech government, lashed back, accusing the Communist Party of trying to raise its profile in the wake of its humiliating defeat in October’s Senate and local elections.
MPs from the Platform for Preserving European Culture want the Czech Republic to adopt legislation which would prevent radical Islamic priests from being allowed to preach in the country. They have put forward a draft bill according to which foreign priests who wish to be active in the Czech Republic would have to undergo schooling on the Czech legal and cultural environment. The bill is reportedly tailored according to Austrian and Danish legislation, which also sought to bring radical priests under greater state control. At the end of August the Czech intelligence services reported they were investigating an imam formerly active in Prague who had apparently tried to radicalize the Czech Muslim community.
One of the country’s last surviving WWII veterans, Colonel Bedřich Opočenský, has died at the age of 92. The news was confirmed by Defense Minister Martin Stropnický. Colonel Opočenský fought on the Eastern Front in World War II, taking part in the Battle of Dukla Pass and the liberation of Ostrava. According to Defense Minister Stropnický, just two weeks ago the government approved a proposal for him to be raised to the rank of general on the occasion of Veterans Day, November 11.
Twelve stores violated the law by selling goods to customers on a public holiday, the Czech Inspection Office reported on Saturday following checks around the country on October 28. In line with a new law outlets bigger than 200 square meters must remain closed on eight public holidays, among them Czechoslovak Independence Day, Christmas, Easter Monday and May 8. Violation of the law can be fined by up to one million crowns (37,000 euros). Some stores in Prague stayed open for PR events on the day. According to a poll conducted by the Median agency the majority of Czechs do not have a problem with this, but some entrepreneurs have argued it could lead to lay-offs.
The long weekend marks the end of Daylight Saving Time around Europe. At 3am on Sunday October 30, clocks will be turned back one hour to local standard time, or winter time. Traditionally the time shift will affect the schedule of international trains and busses. In the Czech Republic this concerns eleven express trains passing through the country which will take an hour-long break on the border.
Police President Tomas Tuhý, who was caught speeding earlier this year, has been punished with a six-months driving ban and a fine of 10,000 crowns, the news site novinky.cz reported on Saturday. The news was confirmed by the police president himself who said the punishment had been meted out by his superior, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec last week. Tuhý was caught speeding near Ostrava where he was driving at 100 km per hour on a stretch with a 50 km speed limit.
On the occasion of Czechoslovak Independence Day President Milos Zeman
awarded high state distinctions to 30 personalities from different walks of
life. Among those awarded the Order of the White Lion, the country’s
highest state distinction, were WWII veteran general Jaroslav Klemeš,
Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Domink Duka and former EU commissioner
Günter Verheugen. The Czech ambassador to Syria Eva Filipi, film director
Juraj Jakubisko and singer Daniel Hůlka were among those who received a
medal for merit.
The ceremony at Prague’s Castle’s historic Vladislav Hall was overshadowed by controversy. Many politicians, academics and cultural figures boycotted the ceremony in a show of solidarity with Holocaust survivor George Brady,who was reportedly crossed off the list of nominees after his nephew, Culture Minister Daniel Herman met with the Dalai Lama against the president’s wishes. The Office of the President has denied the allegations.
Several thousand people, among them two government ministers, members of right wing opposition parties, cultural and academic figures and church representatives attended a separate celebration of Czechoslovak Independence Day on Prague’s Old Town Square. Many of the speakers stressed the need to defend democracy in the country and not remain passive to developments such as the joint proclamation of the country’s senior officials with respect to China during a visit to Prague by the Dalai Lama. A guest of honour at the celebrations was Holocaust survivor George Brady who received an academic award from Palacký University in Olomouc in the course of the evening.