The Czech Foreign Minister, and head of the coalition TOP 09 party, has threatened that ministers for his party will leave the government if it does not join the EU’s planned fiscal union. Mr Schwarzenberg told the daily Lidové noviny on Thursday he would not be part of a cabinet that leads the Czech Republic outside the main stream of European integration. The country cannot afford to be isolated, Mr Schwarzenberg added. For his part, President Václav Klaus wrote a letter to PM Petr Nečas making it clear he would not under any condition sign such a fiscal treaty into law.
In related news, the Foreign Ministry on Thursday distanced itself from the report printed in the daily Lidové noviny. In a statement, the ministry writes that Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is not in favor of an unconditional Czech entry into the planned EU fiscal pact. According to the ministry, Mr. Schwarzenberg does not support a fiscal union that would strip the Czech Republic of a sovereign state budget policy. However, the draft currently being debated in Brussels is much more advantageous for the Czech Republic than a previous one. Whether the Czechs will join the union depends on the final draft, he said.
On Thursday, President Václav Klaus has harshly criticized Mr. Schwarzenberg’s ultimatum, stating that it is unacceptable for TOP 09 to voice such threats, and that the party had brought the government coalition under pressure twice within just a few days. The president said this was no way to do politics and added that he considered it necessary to let Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg know his opinion. After the junior coalition partner Public Affairs resisted the approval of a church property restitution deal earlier this week, TOP 09 backed the Civic Democrats’ Prime Minister Petr Nečas, who said that Public Affairs would be asked to leave the government coalition unless it supported the deal.
Iraqi premier Nouri al-Maliki has cancelled a planned visit to the Czech Republic due to the tumultuous political situation in Iraq, a spokesman for the Czech government confirmed on Thursday. However, an Iraqi delegation will be making a two-day official visit to the Czech Republic on January 23. On the agenda will be a possible sale of twenty Czech military aircrafts of the Aero L 159 ALCA type to Iraq, as well as Czech-Iraqi cooperation in the areas of energy policy and transport in Iraq. The two countries have been discussing the sale of the Czech combat planes for over a year. In 2010, Prime Minister Petr Nečas had travelled to Iraq to lobby for the deal. In the wake of the U.S. troop withdrawal at the end of 2011, a series of attacks in mostly Shiite neighborhoods has shaken the country, with many Iraqis fearing a descent into a wave sectarian violence.
Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa on Wednesday unveiled a new draft law
regulating the zoning of the Šumava National Park. According to the
minister, the new legislation required compromises from all sides but will
provide a long-term solution to the ongoing conflict between
environmentalists, the park management and local municipalities over the
zoning of the national park.
Under the final draft of the new law, 26.53 percent of the park will be declared part of Zone 1, which is for the most part off-limits to loggers. In addition, 8.49 percent of the park could become a part of the off-limits zone in the future. The remaining area of the national park will be divided into Zones 2 and 3, where protection will be less strict. Environmentalists had demanded that 30 percent of the park be made a part of Zone 1.
The new draft law would also give the green light for the construction of a new furnicular that would connect the Šumava National Park to the Austrian skiing resort Hochficht, to where some 70,000 Czech skiers travel each year. The cable car connection was one of the main demands from local municipalities.
Last summer, the debate over the national park escalated after environmentalists for weeks held blockades to protest the felling of bark-beetle infested trees in the nature reserve. Police came under fire for their treatment of activists, which some NGOs slammed as unnecessarily violent.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice on Thursday called on the General
Inspectorate of Security Forces (GIBS) to investigate a case of bonuses
that Police President Petr Lessy allegedly paid out to members of the
police last year and that may have exceeded maximum amounts he agreed on
with the minister. According to media reports, Mr. Lessy had handed out
excessive bonus payments to nine high-ranking members of the police force.
Mr. Kubice has told the press that he considers this behavior a
violation of the orders Mr. Lessy was given.
Mr. Lessy is also currently facing disciplinary proceedings for comments he made about the former deputy chief of the Zlín regional police in connection with a case of widespread corruption within the Brno police’s economic crimes unit.
A library set to open in Paris’s northern Pajol district next year will
be named after the late Czech president Václav Havel, the Czech embassy
Paris writes on its website. The embassy cites the French capital’s
mayor, Bertrand Delanoë, who said that he wants to pay respect to one of
the greatest artists, statesmen and fighters for freedom. The new library
should contain some 30,000 volumes. Mr. Delanoë had already expressed his
wish to name either a cultural institution or a street after Mr. Havel
three weeks ago, when he signed a book of condolences at the Czech embassy
In a similar effort, a street in the Polish city of Gdánsk was named after the late Czech president. According to a Czech member of the European Parliament, it is also likely that one of the parliament’s buildings will be named after Mr. Havel. A petition to rename Prague’s international Ruzyně airport after the late president has received over 80,000 signatures to date.
The Czech Republic ranks third in the Nuclear Materials Security Index,
which maps nuclear materials security conditions in 32 countries. The
was published by the American NGO Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) on
Wednesday and aims to spark an international discussion about priorities
required to strengthen nuclear security. Australia is ranked first in the
index; Hungary came in ahead of the Czech Republic in second place. The
Czech Republic was given the best assessment for its control of nuclear
materials, security standards and its nuclear energy legislation. The
rankings were given to North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.
NTI was founded by American media mogul Ted Turner and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn in 2001. Its mission is to strengthen global security through the reduction of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
Petr Kočí, a lawyer who in a current case has filed an objection against
the well-respected judicial expert Michal Mazel, told press on Thursday
that his principal reason for doing so was the fact that Mazel’s
assessments were overpriced. Michal Mazel has announced that he will be
taking legal steps against the advocate, who had previously also explained
his objection by stating that Mr. Mazel was biased due to his Jewish
Many were shocked by the advocate’s objection against the judicial expert, whose testimony was crucial in such cases as the Vítkov arson attack and the dissolution of the rightwing Workers’ Party. Mr. Mazel has since resigned, stating that he had had enough of being the target of extremists and that Kočí’s objection was but the last straw.
In a joint operation dubbed Speedway, the biggest collaboration in the Czech-German border area to date, 1.6 kilograms of the drug crystal methamphetamine with a retail value of 5.8 million Czech crowns was confiscated, a deputy of the German Finance Minister told the press on Thursday. In addition, police and customs officers confiscated four kilograms of marijuana and 6000 items of illegal fireworks. Some 21 German citizens, who had been smuggling the Czech-produced crystal methamphetamine across the border, were arrested. Police followed some 3300 suspects during the 2-month operation, which started in October of last year. German police and customs officers said on Thursday that smuggling of crystal methamphetamine into the country is on the rise and that similar operations are planned for the future.