The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to decide on Monday how to respond to a warning from the North Korean authorities on Friday that embassies in Pyongyang should consider evacuating their employees in view of current tensions with South Korea. While no foreign embassies have to date announced plans to evacuate, a Czech Foreign Ministry official said on Sunday that it had been monitoring the situation over the weekend with a view to deciding on a course of action. The Czech Republic closed its embassy in Pyongyang in 1993 and reopened it in 2004, when Czech diplomats offered North Korea help in overcoming its international isolation.
Around 500 people took part in an anti-government demonstration on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Sunday. The protest was organised by the south-Moravia based Holešovská výzva (Holešov Appeal), an umbrella group formed about a year ago that demands the resignation of the coalition government of Petr Nečas and other changes. They named their demonstration Twilight of the Godfathers, indicating their wish to see the end of alleged mafia involvement in Czech politics.
The minister of labour and social affairs, Ludmila Müllerová, says her ministry will this year lack billions of crowns needed for social welfare payments. Speaking on a TV debate show on Sunday, she said she would ask the Ministry of Finance for increased funding. However, the minister of finance, Miroslav Kalousek (who is also from the TOP 09 party), said he could find no extra money for the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. Mr. Kalousek said Ms. Müllerová would have to find the money needed within her own department, which receives the greatest amount for outlays of any ministry.
The number of apartment buildings and districts inhabited by the poor in the Czech Republic is on the rise, the Czech News Agency quoted the head of the government’s social integration agency, Martin Šimáček, as saying on Sunday. While there were an estimated 330 ghettos in the country in 2006 and 400 in 2011, that number is now higher, said Mr. Šimáček, adding, however, that precise figures will not be available until next year. He said many poor people have been forced to move from apartments to hostel-style accommodation due to indebtedness.
The Czech Republic have reached the semi-finals of the Davis Cup after opening up an unassailable 3:1 lead over Kazakhstan in Astana. The Czech team – without the country’s men’s number one, Tomáš Berdych – won the first two singles rubbers on Friday before losing in Saturday’s doubles to allow the hosts back into the tie. However, Lukáš Rosol calmed Czech nerves by beating Evgeny Korolev 7-6 6-7 7-6 6-2 on Sunday. The Czech Republic are the defending Davis Cup champions after taking the trophy in Prague at the end of last year, while the country also holds the Fed Cup.
Viktoria Plzeň are still heading Czech soccer’s first division after a 2:1 home win over relegation-threatened Teplice on Sunday. Plzeň are only ahead of rivals Sparta Prague, who also have 47 points after 22 games played, thanks to a goal difference of two. Sparta beat Olomouc 3:0 away on Saturday.
The wintery weather the Czech Republic has been experiencing lately is evidently coming to an end, with temperatures set to gradually increase. The Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute said in its regular monthly forecast that the average daily temperature over the next four weeks should get close to 9.4 degrees Celsius, which is the norm for the time of year. The third week of April should be the warmest of the month.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg, has raised the possibility of a deal with President Miloš Zeman on the appointment of ambassadors, an issue on which the two men have been at loggerheads. In a newspaper interview, Mr. Schwarzenberg said he would propose Communist Party MEP and former cosmonaut Vladimír Remek, who enjoys Mr. Zeman’s support, for the post of envoy to Moscow, if the president approved his suggestions for other ambassadorial positions. In a separate interview, the foreign minister said former defence minister Alexandr Vondra would make a good ambassador to Israel. However, he has insisted that former first lady Lidia Klausová, who Mr. Zeman is pushing, is not qualified to become Czech ambassador to Bratislava.
The Ministry of Transport has played down a report in Mladá fronta Dnes suggesting that it is proposing the creation of central register of bicycles in a bid to reduce the number of thefts. A ministry official said on Saturday afternoon that the idea was only aimed at fostering debate on the issue of bicycle thefts. The prime minister, Petr Nečas, had said earlier in the day that a register of that type, which would cost around CZK 20 million, would only increase bureaucracy. Last year nearly 8,000 bicycles were stolen in the Czech Republic, where the total number of bikes is around 4 million, Mladá fronta Dnes said.
A 56-year-old woman died from methanol poisoning in a hospital in Orlová, north Moravia on Friday. She was the 25th victim of methanol poisoning in the Moravia-Silesia Region, while over 40 people have died around the Czech Republic since the first such death last summer. The Ministry of Health imposed a ban on sales of all spirits for a two-week period in September in a bid to deal with a health crisis stemming from illegally-produced poisonous booze. Police are still warning against the consumption of old bottles of spirits and of alcohol of uncertain provenance lacking the correct stamps.