New EU sanctions against Syria approved at a meeting of the EU countries’ foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, will fall short of brining an end to the ongoing civil war in that country, according to Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. The new, tougher sanctions which include the freezing of assets and a travel ban imposed on people around Syria’s president Bashar Assad, will make little sense without an agreement with Russia, Mr Schwarzenberg told Czech Radio, adding that ending the bloodshed in Syria is a higher priority than ousting the Syrian president.
The European Commission will resume payments into seven Czech operational programmes, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Monday referring to a telephone conversation with European Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn. Payments into 14 out of 17 Czech programmes were put on hold earlier this year over control and auditing issues. After a review of a Czech strategy to remove these problems, the European Commission will renew payments in the coming days, Mr Nečas said. The Czech Ministry for Regional Development said around 900 million euro could be released as part of these programmes until the end of 2012; however, it’s not clear if and when funding of the remaining programmes could resume as well.
The new Czech vehicle registration system again collapsed on Monday when it failed to connect with the country’s database of stolen cars and the European registry of identification numbers. The Transport Ministry, which runs the new system, has blamed the collapse on the police which however rejected any responsibility for the problems. The new registration system has been malfunctioning ever since its launch two weeks ago; the Transport Ministry said it would demand compensation for the problems from the system’s supplier.
Some of the grants provided between 2009 and 2011 by the Czech Education Ministry to support youth activities were given out in violation of the rules, according to a report by the Supreme Auditing Office released on Monday. Some of the grants were not justified while others were provided under terms that were too vague. The report also said that the ministry’s grant system was poorly set up. A deputy of the education minister said all problems would be dealt with by the end of August.
The Czech travel agency Dolce Vita declared bankruptcy on Monday, leaving around 100 of its clients stranded in Tunisia. The agency said, however, the clients’ hotels and return airfare had been paid, and the tourists should return to the Czech Republic by the end of the week. Dolce Vita has become the sixth Czech travel agency to go bankrupt this year.
A deadly traffic accident involving three vehicles (a truck and two cars) claimed the life of one motorist on the country’s D5 highway on Monday morning. Another was seriously injured, two suffered lighter injuries. Traffic in both lanes was temporarily interrupted. The accident happened as the truck drove onto the highway from a nearby petrol station and was struck from behind by the smaller vehicles.
Railway traffic between Prague and Hradec Králové in eastern Bohemia was temporarily suspended on Monday due to maintenance work. The interruption, in effect between 9 AM and 4 PM, will last five days; passengers can instead use buses provided by Czech Railways, a spokesman for the company said. Regular traffic on the line should resume by Friday.
Moravian folklore musician Jan Rokyta died on Sunday at the age of 74, the news agency ČTK reported. Jan Rokyta, a native of Jasenná near Vizovice, in the east of the country, founded the cimbalom band Technik in 1958. He collaborated with Czech Radio for several decades, and organized a number of festivals and folklore events. His band recorded more than 40 albums including Pěsničky, or Songs, sung by the writer and former dissident Ludvík Vaculík.
Organizers of the Sázavafest music festival, held in Benešov between August 2 and 5 have cancelled appearances by the UK bands Kaiser Chiefs and Skindred. In a statement on the festival’s website, the head of the festival said they could not afford the bands due to lack of finances. The organizers said they would announce the bands’ replacements by the end of the month; however, people who do not want to attend the event may exchange their tickets for a 200-crown discount for next year’s edition of the festival.
Police have charged the mayor of a southern Bohemian village with abuse of power, a spokesman for the anti-corruption unit of Czech police said on Monday. The charges are related to a 2007 sale of communal land; the mayor allegedly sold the land to private investors at a low price although he knew the price would go up after changes to the zoning plan. That led to a loss of at least 120 million crowns, the police said. If convicted, the man would face up to 10 years in prison.