The lower house of Czech Parliament on Friday approved Croatia’s EU accession treaty; 151 out of 164 deputies present voted in favour. Parliament’s upper house passed the treaty earlier – in April. The Czech government originally planned to link the vote on Croatia’s accession with the vote on the Czech opt-out from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (a part of the Lisbon Treaty). However, that would have complicated the accession treaty’s ratification as the opposition-controlled upper house would most likely reject the opt-out.
German President Joachim Gauck said in a letter to Czech counterpart
Václav Klaus on Friday that Germany was aware of its historical
responsibility for massacres at the Czech villages of Lidice and Ležáky
during World War II. Mr Gauck wrote the letter ahead of the 70th
anniversary of the destruction of Lidice and Ležáky by the Nazis in
retaliation for the assassination of acting Reichsprotector of Bohemia and
Moravia Reinhard Heydrich on May 27, 1942. Heydrich succumbed to wounds
suffered in the attack which was orchestrated by Czech paratroopers.
As a result, Lidice, in Central Bohemia, was obliterated on June 10 and Ležáky, East Bohemia, was burnt to the ground on June 24. In Lidice alone, all 173 men were executed, while most women and children were sent to concentration camps. Some of the children were selected for re-education in Nazi Germany. In his letter, German President Gauck wrote that the despicable acts in Lidice and Ležáky filled him with “deep sorrow and shame”, but cited positive ties between Germany and the Czech Republic today as reason for hope. In response, Václav Klaus thanked his German counterpart, saying that he considered the letter a strong statement and positive gesture.
Education Minister Petr Fiala recalled the head of the Centre for the Preparation of High School Leaving Exams, Pavel Zelený, from his post on Friday over problems with this year’s tests. The minister said that the state exams (which have been the source of continuing controversy) would be scrutinised in an audit, with a group of experts assessing both their presentation and quality. Teachers, students and experts alike have criticised the exams, including how they were marked, saying the methodology used was difficult to decipher and not objective. The EDUin organisation, meanwhile, pointed out that students had not been returned marked work, leaving them unable to contest their results. Pavel Zelený has been replaced at Cermat by Jiří Zíka, the minister said.
The ‘new’ government party LIDEM (For the People) which splintered from Public Affairs earlier this year outlined its programme and key priorities on Friday, putting stress on economic and individual freedom. A representative for the party also revealed that LIDEM was readying to launch a beta-version of a new website on the day. The party was founded by former Public Affairs politicians led by Peake, who defected from Public Affairs after its de facto leader was found guilty in a corruption case. Members loyal to the original party joined the opposition.
Lubomír Zaorálek, a prominent member of the opposition Social Democratic Party, slammed TOP 09 Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek on Friday for allegedly provoking confrontation through aggressive, destructive politics. The politician was referring to an incident a day earlier, when Mr Kalousek appeared before demonstrators at a rally in front of the ministry and attempted to speak but was drowned out by the crowd. He was also spat upon by an anti-government protestor. The finance minister labelled demonstrators “cowards afraid to debate issues”. The Social Democrats’ Lubomír Zaorálek criticised the finance minister for – in his words – trying to similarly ‘steamroll’ over the opposition in the lower house.
A vacant house in Říčany near Prague caught fire in the early hours of Friday. Two people, though to be homeless, were killed. Firefighters arrived at the house briefly after 2 a.m. and were able to get the situation under control quickly, but were unable to save the individuals. Police are investigating the cause of the tragedy.
Health officers have uncovered the presence of potentially dangerous bacteria in hot water samples taken from a junction exchange station in České Budějovice. The bacteria, Legionella pneumophila, can reportedly cause pneumonia. The station provides water to local buildings on Plzeň Street. The head of the regional hygiene office overseeing South Bohemia said the threat was not high but advised residents using hot water to let water run-off for several dozen seconds after turning on the tap. České Budějovice’s heating plant has received the results of the hygiene officers’ analysis and has been told to eliminate the problem quickly.
Traffic has slowed considerably on the D1 highway in both directions from Prague –Brno after a driver of a truck lost control of his vehicle in the afternoon and crashed through the safety fence before driving partly into the oncoming lane. The accident took place at the 27 kilometre mark. The traffic jam is was several kilometres long, idnes reported at around four p.m. Traffic has been routed into one lane in the area on both sides, slowing departure to and from the capital.
The Czech Republic’s national football team plays Russia later on Friday in its first appearance at the EURO 2012 championships in Poland and Ukraine. Team managers said that striker Milan Baroš, who experienced a thigh muscle problem earlier in the week, is fit for the game. Likewise, squad captain and key playmaker Tomáš Rosický is also ready after returning to action on Monday following a three-week layoff. The Czechs are hoping for at least a draw in Friday’s match; bookmakers, however, are largely favouring Russia. The game starts at 8:45 PM CET.
In related news, retired international Pavel Nedvěd, a member of Czech national squads that finished second at Euro ‘96 and third at Euro 2004, will be one of many fans in Wroclaw cheering on the Czech team. The former player, a VIP guest, signed autographs for football fans in Poland, saying he had gladly accepted an invitation to attend. The legendary midfielder stressed, that he was staying out of the Czech team’s way ahead of the matches, not wanting to interfere. Asked by Czech news website idnes to name the country with the best chance of winning the tournament, the player named Germany, which he said boasted a new generation of exceptional players.