The tender on the expansion of the Czech Republic’s Temelín nuclear power plant will be the main topic discussed in a meeting between Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas and US President Barack Obama in Washington on Thursday. According to the Czech news agency, ČTK, America is hoping to reemphasise a strong interest in the contract, worth hundreds of billions of crowns. The US-based firm Westinghouse is competing against two other bidders in the tender. The visit by Mr Nečas to the White House on Thursday could also show new progress in Czech-American ties following the US abandonment of an advance warning radar in the Czech Republic, pursued by the previous administration. Meetings with past Czech prime ministers Mirek Topolánek and Vladimír Špidla were dominated by security issues, ČTK noted, while now economic matters have come to the fore.
In related news, Czech President Václav Klaus has said that differing views on nuclear energy between the Czech Republic and Upper Austria no longer dominate Czech-Austrian talks. Mr Klaus made the statement during a visit to Linz on Tuesday, after meeting with representatives from the public and business spheres as well as members of the academia. According to the head-of-state questions of improving road infrastructure dominated. A group of about ten Austrian opponents of nuclear energy staged a protest against Temelín outside the Czech honorary consulate in Linz, but Mr Klaus said he did not believe that the protest expressed the majority view of the region's inhabitants. Nuclear-free Austria has long been opposed to the operation of nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic.
The Communist Party has failed to push through a proposal in the lower house which would have capped pre-election campaign spending by political parties. The bill was rejected by coalition MPs who are reportedly preparing legislation of their own aiming to make campaign financing more transparent. The Communists had been seeking to limit pre-election spending in senatorial and national campaigns to 50 million crowns and regional election campaigns to 20 million, while introducing penalties for transgression. Civic Democrat Marek Benda criticised the Communist Party proposal as “unbaked”. The head of the Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, said it shared a common aim with government plans.
Culture Minister Jiří Besser has assured the Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl that a church property restitution bill being prepared by the centre-right government will not breach the date of February 25, 1948. That is a cut-off date for the restitution of property in the Czech Republic – historically related to the putsch that saw the Communist Party assume power in Czechoslovakia. The agriculture minister expressed concern about a section in the prepared legislation which theoretically could pave the way for the return of 20,000 hectares of forestland to a former Christian order known as the Order of German Knights. The prepared legislation, based on parameters set in talks between the Church and the state, is to be presented to the government by the end of October.
Wenceslas Square in the Czech capital will hold car-free days again next year after holding a trial run last month on September 18. The event was held during the middle of European Mobility Week and car traffic on Prague’s most famous square was stopped for several hours. The mayor of Prague 1, Oldřich Lomecký, told journalists on Wednesday that officials at Prague’s 1’s town hall, business owners and others had registered the event as a success and that next year such days could be held once per month from April – October. Mr Lomecký said on Wednesday that in recent years Wenceslas Square lacked ‘purpose’, suggesting that events like the Christmas market helped revitalise the space. During the Christmas period stalls are set up at the bottom of the square, already set aside for pedestrians.
A dilapidated 19th century building named after original owner Václav Šlechta and located in Prague’s Stromovka Park will not see planned renovation this year, ČTK has reported. The building, which once housed a restaurant, has been boarded up in a state of disrepair for years – first gutted by a fire in 1980 and then hit by flooding in 2002. Under former plans the historic site was to have been saved and completely renovated by September 2012 at the cost of 180 million crowns. According to the Czech news agency, it is now apparent that Prague City Hall has allocated some of the needed budget to a separate project, meaning the reconstruction of the Stromovka site will be stalled. The agency also reports that the city has yet to sign an agreement with a contractor.
Fire fighters were called in on Wednesday to put out a fire in a Jihlava that caught in a tent put up for an accompanying programme to the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival. The fire crew was able to put out the flames within roughly half-an-hour. Nobody was hurt in the incident. According to sources, the fire caught from a halogen lamp used to light the interior. Damage has been estimated at 500,000 crowns or the equivalent of around 28,000 US dollars. The Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival begins on Thursday.
Author Daniela Hodrová has been named the laureate for this year’s state prize for literature for her latest novel Vyvolávání and also previous work. Martin Hilský received the state for prize for his translations of works by Shakespeare. The results were announced on Wednesday. Jury head Vladimír Novotný praised Ms Hodrová work, saying long intervals between publication (not publishing four books a year) showed her dedication and ‘aesthetic responsibility’.
Former striker Roman Kukleta – who earned four caps with Czechoslovakia’s national football team in 1991 – and played for clubs like Sparta Prague, Brno and Betis Seville, has died at the age of 46. News site idnes reported that last weekend the former player was to have shot a promotional clip for Brno’s football team, Boby Brno, but had to cancel due to illness. He was hospitalised a day later and on Wednesday died from organ failure. As a player Kukleta scored 58 goals in the top flight, playing in 153 matches.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová got off to a good start in her first match in the Red Group at the WTA Championships in Istanbul, Turkey on Tuesday, defeating opponent Vera Zvonareva in straight sets. The Czech player, who triumphed at Wimbledon this year, won 6:2, 6:4. Afterwards, she admitted she had been nervous ahead of her first-ever match in the WTA Championships. In her group she also faces Caroline Wozniak, and Agnieszka Radwanska: the two best players will face the two best from the White Group in the semifinals.