Prime Minister Petr Nečas has expressed support for Turkey’s bid to
join the EU. Following talks with the visiting Turkish Prime Minister
Tayyip Erdogan, Mr. Nečas said Prague fully supported Ankara’s ambition
to become a fully-fledged member of the alliance on condition that Turkey
fulfills the respective admission criteria. The Turkish prime minister
welcomed the stand saying Turkey had been standing outside EU gates for
more than 50 years and that the delaying of its admission further was
unforgivable. This was in reference to the view of some EU members that as
a Muslim country Turkey should be offered a close partnership rather that
Talks between the two heads of government also covered business and security matters, among others the role of the Czech armed forces in helping to guard the Turkish border against possible attacks from Syria.
An inspection at Czech primary schools has revealed a serious lack of qualified foreign language teachers. According to the Czech School Inspectorate over a quarter of the language teachers teaching at primary schools around the country lack proper qualification and fail to give students a good grounding in the second language of their choice. The inspectorate says this is a serious problem especially since in line with the new curriculum a second foreign language will be an obligatory subject in the new school year. Students generally pick English or German as a second language, followed by French and Russian.
A Prague court has ordered the justice ministry to pay Jan Šafránek 4.8 million crowns in compensation for a judiciary error that sent him to prison for a crime he never committed. Šafránek was found guilty of rape in 1992 and spent a year in jail before the police uncovered the true culprit. He is suing the state for 32 million crowns. The verdict is not yet legally binding and both sides may appeal.
An internal audit at the Energy Regulatory Office (ERU) suggests former employees may have illegally upped the prices of electricity from solar plants. ERU chairwoman Alena Vitaskova said the audit’s findings indicate that in the years between 2005 and 2011 solar energy prices were not set within the bounds of the law, incurring damages worth tens of billions of crowns. The public prosecutor’s office is looking into the matter. A number of employees who reportedly tried to withhold information and boycott the audit have been sacked.
In related news, a day earlier Tomáš Berdych and Lukáš Rosol won the longest match in Davis Cup history to give the Czech Republic 2-1 edge over Switzerland. The doubles match against opponents Stanislas Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli took a record 7 hours and two minutes; the deciding fifth set alone took 215 minutes. The final score was 6:4, 5:7, 6:4, 6:7, 24:22. The previous longest Davis Cup match dates back to 1982 and lasted 6 hours and 22 minutes: John McEnroe defeated Sweden’s Mats Wilander.
Darina Hájková, the daughter of highly-respected jazz guitarist Rudolf Dašek, has revealed that her father died on January 31 at the age of 79. Ms Hájková told the Czech news agency that a service in his memory will held on February 7 in Prague. As a musician, Mr Dašek often teamed up with well-known flutist Jiří Stivín; music critic Antonín Matzner told CTK that the duo of Stivín and Dašek was the best export item from 1970s Czechoslovakia, adding that Mr Dašek was considered the best jazz guitarist in Europe at the time.
The president-elect, Miloš Zeman, has told the Czech daily Právo that
the flag of the European Union will fly at Prague Castle after he assumes
office. Mr Zeman told the newspaper that he would invite European
Commission President Jose Barroso to attend a special ceremony during
the EU flag would be raised. The step is a departure from that of Mr
Zeman’s predecessor Václav Klaus, a well-known critic of the EU, who
refused such a move.
In the interview, the president-elect also told Právo that he would transfer the agenda of presidential pardons to the Justice Ministry; ahead of the elections, Mr Zeman maintained that he would never declare an amnesty, a reaction – at least in part – to one declared in January by Mr Klaus. The New Years Day amnesty controversially halted, or threatens to halt, a number of major corruption and economic crime cases.
The Czech Republic has defeated Switzerland in their-best-of-five match-up to advance to the quarterfinals of the Davis Cup. Tennis player Tomas Berdych secured the decisive third point against the Swiss team by downing opponent Stanislaw Wawrinka on Sunday afternoon. The match saw four sets played; the final score was 6:3, 6:4, 3:6, 7:6. The final singles match of the day, pitting Veselý against Henri Laaksonen, will have no influence on the outcome.
A 30-year-old skier suffered serious injury on a ski hill near Most on Sunday afternoon after apparently losing control on a jump on a specialized trail. No witnesses saw the accident but the skier was found unconscious below. According to officials, the skier suffered serious trauma to his head, made worse by the fact he had not worn a helmet. Specialists called skiing without a helmet extremely hazardous, explaining that although trails could be covered with fresh powder, the snow beneath was hard-packed and a hard surface for falls.
Nominations for the 20th inception of Český lev, the Czech Lion national film awards, were announced at Prague’s Lucerna cinema on Saturday night. The event, which will be shown live on public broadcaster Czech Television, preceded the actual awards ceremony, which takes place in exactly a month’s time. Members of the Czech Academy of Film and Television chose from among 30 feature films and 15 documentaries that premiered in 2012. Director Bohdan Slama’s film Čtyři slunce (Four Suns) received the most nominations – 12 – including best picture. The four films other nominated for best film are Odpad město smrt, Okresní přebor, Polski film and Ve stínu.
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
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