Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said on Sunday the Czech Republic should pull its weight in helping to save the euro zone. Speaking in a televised debate, the Czech foreign minister said the Czech Republic could not afford to remain isolated in Europe and should seriously think about making a financial commitment towards restoring financial stability in the euro zone. The country’s contribution would be 90 billion crowns and as other EU members it would have to make a commitment within eight days. The Czech foreign minister said the matter should be put to the country’s parliament without delay.
The Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who is in Prague for a three day visit, said at Charles University on Sunday that China could do much for the world but its growing economic power was undermined by mistrust and a lack of respect. Speaking at an academic debate on the subject of China and its human rights record, the Dalai Lama said that without freedom of speech and rule of law China would never gain the respect and international standing it craved. Chinese dissident Jian Tian Li said that the country’s economic successes were helping the communist leadership to maintain power and it had bribed the country’s intellectual elite with special privileges and high salaries in order to curb opposition.
The Green Party which was marginalized in the last general elections has approved new party statutes including a set quota for men and women on its list of candidates for next year’s regional and senate elections. The new rule stipulating that at least a third of candidates must be women, will also put a woman in the party’s top leadership, either in the top post or a deputy position. The party also agreed to elect an ombudsman who would referee and resolve internal party disputes.
One of the symbols of Christmas - the Bethlehem light –has arrived in the Czech Republic. The light is traditionally brought to the country from Vienna by Czech scouts and this year it was handed over to Bishop Vojtěch Cikrle at a special mass in Brno’s Cathedral of St. Peter and St Paul on Sunday. In the coming days it will be distributed all over the country for people to take home as a symbol of love and hope. Traditionally one of the sites in Prague where people will find the Bethlehem light is the Czech Radio building on Vinohradská street.
A serious accident involving a truck and two vans brought traffic along the D1 highway from Prague to Brno to a standstill for close to two hours on Sunday morning. One driver was killed on impact another was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries. Police are investigating the cause of the accident. Witnesses say icy conditions on the highway are likely to have caused the crash.
Divers are searching for the body of a man who jumped off a bridge into the Vltava River in the town of Kralupy nad Vltavou. Eyewitnesses say he swam in the freezing cold water for about one hundred meters before disappearing underwater. The incident happened at around five am on Sunday morning and it is not clear if the man acted on impulse or had planned the daring feat to impress his friends. The incident is being investigated.
A runaway kangaroo on the loose near the D1 highway in the region of Vysočina is giving the police a run for their money. The animal who escaped from a private owner on Wednesday, managing to avoid a party of 70 volunteers and officers throughout the day, has once again been sighted near the main road. Police are keeping it away from traffic and the owner has sent out a team of fresh volunteers to try to capture the animal.
The Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, is in Prague for a three-day
visit at the invitation of ex-president Vaclav Havel and Forum 2,000, of
which he is co-founder. His meeting with Mr. Havel on Saturday took place
in a cordial atmosphere. Dalai Lama said he greatly prized his friendship
with Vaclav Havel, calling him “a great moral authority and a friend of
the free world ”. He presented his host with a white scarf and golden
wheel, a symbol of strength in adversity. “I asked him to live another
ten years at least” the Dalai Lama later told newsmen. The ex-president
thanked the Dalai Lama for coming to the Czech Republic where “he was
much loved by the people and slightly feared by politicians”. Mr. Havel,
who has been ailing, returned to Prague for the meeting after spending
weeks in seclusion at his country cottage.
In the coming days the Tibetan spiritual leader will be speaking at Charles University on the subject of China and its human rights record and he is expected to lead a debate on the search for happiness in an uncertain world.
There have been mixed reactions from pundits on the Czech Republic’s cautious approach towards the intergovernmental treaty on fiscal policy agreed on at Friday’s EU summit in Brussels. While political analyst Zdenek Zboril welcomed the government’s reserved stand, saying that the imposition of financial restrictions from Brussels could create many problems, economics professor Vladimira Dvorakova said the Czech Republic could pay dearly for its “yes and no” approach. She pointed out that the Czech Republic is not Britain and the crown is not the pound, noting that in view of its position and economy the country was better off in an alliance than standing isolated.
The upcoming VAT hike on foods and medicines due to come into effect in January has arrived early as many shops have gradually started increasing the price of various products, the internet daily idnes reports. The paper says that this “creeping” price rise is an old business tactic that served well in the last VAT hike in 2008 when the tax on food products went up from 5 to 9 percent. In the new year prices will stay put and people will get the impression that nothing much has changed. Czechs will be paying more next year not just for the said items but for water, power and public transport as well.