Speaking at his party’s ideological conference, Prime Minister Petr Nečas defended his decision for the Czech Republic to stay out of the EU’s fiscal treaty and slammed the opposition Social Democrats for misleading the public with regard to what it would bring. Mr. Nečas said the Social Democrats were capitalizing on their positive stand to the treaty without telling Czechs that its ratification would effectively prevent them from fulfilling their policy programme. The ideological conference of the Civic Democratic Party is focussing mainly on planned austerity measures in the coming years and the need to communicate them to the public.
The Social Democratic Party has distanced itself from a statement made by party member and MEP Richard Falbr who publicly thanked the Czech prime minister for not signing the EU’s fiscal treaty. Mr. Falbr was the only Social Democrat to openly disagree with his party’s position on the issue, noting that the fiscal treaty had been rejected by the European Trade Union Confederation and that as a former chairman of the Bohemian and Moravian Trade Union Confederation he understood the reasons for that and felt the need to state his position.
Bavarian police are dealing with a steep rise in drug trafficking from the neighbouring Czech Republic. The Bavarian authorities say the problem concerns mainly the home-made drug pervitin, known in Germany as Crystal, which is being smuggled across the border both by Czech dealers and by German nationals who buy it on Czech territory to take home. While in 2009 police confiscated 1 kilogram of the drug, in 2011 the overall amount was 17 kilos. The Bavarian authorities complain that excessive tolerance toward drugs in the Czech Republic is to blame.
A group of 27 children from the tsunami-devastated region of north-east Japan are to spend a week-long wellness stay in the Czech Republic. The visit has been arranged by the Czech-Japanese society which set up an aid fund for the victims of the natural disaster which struck Japan a year ago. The event was organized with the aid of the Czech Olympics Committee and gymnastics queen Věra Čáslavská who won three gold medals in the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and is extremely popular in Japan. In 2010 Japan honoured Věra Čáslavská with the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun for her contribution to cultural understanding between the two countries.
Several members of the junior Public Affairs party have testified against Vít Bárta, head of the party’s parliamentary group, who is to go on trial for bribery on Monday, according to Saturday’s edition of Mlada fronta Dnes. Mr. Bárta is suspected of having bought the loyalty of at least two former party members, Kristyna Kočí and Jaroslav Škárka to whom he handed over large sums of money in cash. While Vit Bárta admits to having given them money he claims the transactions were “personal loans”. If found guilty Mr. Bárta, who is widely perceived as the party’s de-facto leader, could face a sentence of up to six years. Jaroslav Škárka is also being tried for accepting the bribe.
Police have called off the search for a nine-year-old boy who fell into the Bilina river, in the north of the country, while playing with a group of children on Friday afternoon. Teams of rescuers are said to have combed the banks of the entire stretch of the river and divers searched the river bed without success. The accident happened near the town of Usti nad Labem.
A historic film starring Gerard Depardieu is to be shot in the town of Chotešov in west Bohemia next week. A French crew has rented out the local cloister for the filming of L’Homme Qui Rit based on a novel by Victor Hugo. An advance crew has been on-site for a week now and Mr. Depardieu is expected to arrive “any day” for next week’s filming. The townspeople are said to be awaiting his arrival with immense anticipation. The popular French actor was last seen in these parts 12 years ago when he starred in Les Miserables, part of which was filmed in west Bohemia.
The Czech Republic on Friday joined Great Britain in refusing to sign the EU’s fiscal treaty aimed at enforcing budget discipline within the block. The Czech prime minister who met with his British counterpart David Cameron ahead of the EU summit, made it clear that in its present form the treaty was disadvantageous for the Czech Republic in enforcing conditions and fines without allowing the country, which in not a eurozone member, to actively participate in all euro zone summits. He moreover stressed that he considered it far more important to deepen the common market and increase the competitiveness of the 27-member block. The prime minister’s decision to stay out of the treaty has divided the Czech political scene with the coalition TOP 09 and the opposition Social Democrats strongly opposing the move. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who is the head of TOP 09, made it clear at the summit he was deeply dissatisfied with the Czech stand.
Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radičová has voiced harsh criticism of the Czech Republic’s decision to stay out of the fiscal compact. Mrs. Radičová said she had urged the Czech delegation to reconsider its decision ahead of the signing noting that in view of how the sister states had vied to get EU membership it seemed dishonourable to back out at the first sign of trouble. The Slovak prime minister said that the Czech stance was purely political and lacked any rational background.
The anti-corruption police have charged17 members of the Prague branch of the opposition Social Democrats with corruption. According to Czech Television the accused bribed over a dozen people to become party members and to vote according to the leadership’s wishes. This activity is reported to have taken place in 2010 and was to have influenced the list of party candidates for the 2010 general elections. The Social Democrat leadership has called on the accused to leave the party.