Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas and his British counterpart David Cameron have designed an initiative aimed at pushing the European Council to adopt a more active stance on supporting economic growth and a unified European market. The Czech prime minister has said that efforts to create a truly unified European market should not be neglected in the common currency zone. Currently, only some 40 percent of goods and services in the EU are part of a unified market. According to information from the Czech News Agency ČTK, the two prime ministers are planning to submit a formal letter outlining the initiative to the president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy. Aside from the two countries, both of which were the only EU members to not sign the fiscal compact, other member states such as the Netherlands may sign the initiative. In late January, the Czech Republic and the UK both refused to sign a new fiscal compact, aimed at established tighter budget controls across the Eurozone.
At a two-day meeting of Czech President Václav Klaus with his
counterparts from Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia at the Lány castle near
Prague, Mr. Klaus and Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič expressed their
support of the Croatian EU accession and Serbia’s long-term plans to join
the EU. Mr. Gašparovič said that in light of the difficult situation in
the Balkans, the countries‘ efforts to join the EU were a positive step.
He added that he was confident Serbia was soon going to granted EU
accession candidate status. Mr. Klaus said that a Serbian EU accession
would also bring advantages for the Czech Republic. Serbian President Boris
Tadic left the two-day meeting Saturday evening; the Slovak, Croatian and
presidents on Sunday commemorated the first president of Czechoslovakia,
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, in the Lány cemetery, where he is buried.
Croatia is set to become the 28th member of the EU in July 2013. Serbia is still waiting to receive EU candidacy status. Its territorial demands on Kosovo have been an obstacle in its effort to join the EU.
In the future, the option of dual citizenship may be open to all Czech citizens. Currently, mainly those who are married to foreigners are allowed to file for dual citizenship. Under a new law that is currently being prepared as part of an overhaul of the Czech legislation on citizenship, Czechs citizens would be able to keep their Czech passport even if they become citizens of a foreign country. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry confirmed the planned change in legislation for the website idnes.cz, the online presence of the daily Mladá fronta dnes. In addition, the new law should make it easier for Czech emigrants living abroad to gain back their Czech citizenship.
Czech speed skater Martina Sablíková took home the silver medal at the World Allround Speed Skating Championships in Moscow on Sunday. The long-distance specialist won the women’s final 5,000-meter race in 6 minutes, 58.74 seconds and finished second in the overall competition with 161.870 points. Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands took home the winning title for the third time in her career. Canadian speed skater Christine Nesbitt finished third. Sablíková won the championship in 2009 and 2010.
The Czech team came in fifth in the sky jump World Cup in the German Oberstdorf. Of the four Czech ski jumpers competing, only the Czech record holder Antonín Hájek surpassed the 200-meter mark with a leap of 209 meters. Slovenia took home an unexpected victory, while Austria came in second. Due to bad weather conditions, the team event was reduced to one round only.
Police have charged the husband of a 24-year-old woman, whose body was found by police in the city of Liberec on Friday, with murder. The young woman had gone missing for weeks; a neighbor reported her missing on January 23. According to a police spokeswoman, police officers are currently talking to other neighbors of the victim. The autopsy will reveal how the woman was killed, the spokeswoman added.
Thousands of Czech skiers have been hitting the slopes on the weekend, despite severe weather and avalanche warnings and the bad condition of some roads in higher altitudes. Pleasant temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius and good snow quality in the country’s skiing resorts drew many people to the Krkonoše and Orlický mountains. Some 12,000 skiers visited the skiing resort at Špindlerův Mlýn in the Krkonoše Mountains in the Hradec Králové region. Visitor numbers to skiing resorts this weekend were among the best of this year’s winter sports season.
Czech President Václav Klaus is hosting his counterparts from Slovakia, Croatia and Serbia at the Lány castle near Prague for a two-day meeting. On the agenda are EU-issues such as Croatia’s EU accession and Serbia’s long-term plan to join the union. The four heads of state had decided to hold this meeting at a session of the United Nations‘ General Assembly a year-and-a-half ago.
Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka was elevated to cardinal at a ceremony in
St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on Saturday morning. The Prague archbishop
is one of 22 new cardinals that Pope Benedict XVI created in the ceremony.
Hundreds of Czech pilgrims were in attendance. Dominik Duka was presented
with a scarlet biretta and a gold ring, the traditional symbols of the
title. As a cardinal, Dominik Duka will be among those clerics authorized
to elect a new pope.
On Saturday afternoon, the Prague archbishop led mass for Czech Catholics at Rome’s Church of Saint Gregory VII. The head of Czech diplomacy, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, was in attendance. On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI will be celebrating a special mass with the 22 newly named cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica. Archbishop Duka is the 11th Prague archbishop to be named cardinal.
At a party meeting on the weekend, the opposition Social Democrats put
forward their two potential candidates for the post of president in the
2013 direct presidential elections. Both economist Jan Švejnar and the
party’s deputy chairman Jiří Dienstbier were determined possible
nominees; a final decision is expected in May. Mr. Švejnar and Mr.
Dienstbier are set to travel across the country to speak to potential
At the two-day meeting, high-ranking party officials will also be discussing the upcoming regional and Senate elections, which party chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has labelled “a referendum on the government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas“. Following the ratification of a new bill, Czechs will be able to elect their head of state in a direct vote for the first time in 2013, when President Klaus’s second term in office expires.