The Czech Republic and other European states share a view of the conflict between Palestine and Israel, but they cannot reach agreement on how to achieve peace in the Middle East, the Czech minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg, said after a meeting with his Palestinian counterpart, Riyad al-Maliki, in Prague on Tuesday. Mr. Schwarzenberg said he agreed with his visitor that Palestine should become a real state, but said the two differed on tactics. The Czech Republic is commonly considered an ally of Israel and in December was the only EU member to vote at the UN against granting observer status to the Palestinians.
The number of native speakers teaching English or other languages in Czech schools has fallen dramatically since the 1990s, iDnes.cz reported on Tuesday. The news website said that young foreigners are less interested in spending time in the Czech Republic, while schools cannot afford them and are also more selective when it comes to hiring. An annual report from the national schools inspection agency says the share of native speakers in schools today is “almost imperceptible” compared to the 1990s. However, some 3 percent of English teachers are native speakers, as are 5.5 percent of German teachers.
The percentage of senior citizens in Czech society is on the rise. However, it is still below the EU average. That is according to a Eurostat study quoted by the Czech News Agency. The survey, carried out between 1992 and 2012, found that the portion of over 65s in the Czech Republic grew from 19.1 percent to 23.4 percent over the decade in question. However, the EU average climbed to 26.8 percent in the same period.
Prague’s Aero cinema is planning to show a series of films from 1998 as part of events to celebrate the 15th anniversary of its establishment. Between April 4 and April 7, the arthouse cinema in the city’s Žižkov district will be screening movies such as The Big Lebowski and Run Lola Run. Its organisers also run the capital’s Oko and Světozor picture houses, while the company Aerofilms is a significant distributor on the Czech market.
The Czech international soccer goalkeeper Petr Čech has received plaudits for a remarkable save he made for Chelsea in an FA Cup victory against Manchester United on Monday. With Chelsea leading 1:0, Čech somehow managed to paw away a close-range header from Javier Hernandez for one of the saves of the season in England. Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson described it as “incredible”, while numerous pundits have praised the Czech’s reflex stop.
Forecasters are warning of further heavy snows in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. Between three and 15 centimetres are expected to fall in half of the country’s regions, chiefly in the east of the country, with up to 25 centimetres of fresh snow expected in mountainous areas. Heavy snow on the holiday weekend disrupted road and rail transport in the eastern Czech Republic.
Several dozens international experts have approached the Czech environment minister, Tomáš Chalupa, over a controversial bill on the Šumava National Park, the news website idnes.cz reported on Monday. The signatories of the letter, which include heads of national parts in Austria, Italy and Switzerland, as well as university professors and other experts from Germany, Poland, Portugal, and other countries, warn against the planned removal of the strictest level of protection from some of the core parts of the Šumava National Park. The letter had reportedly arrived at the ministry at the end of last year. The bill has also come under criticism from Czech wildlife experts
The Czech army on Monday began a military training mission in Mali, as part of an EU mission to the West African country. In the first stage, 34 Czech troops will guard an army base in the capital Bamaku before taking part in a training programme for the Malian military. Their mission is expected to last 15 months; most Czech troops participating in the mission are from the 43rd Airborne Battalion in Chrudim which has gone through missions in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and other places.
Several changes to the health care system come into effect on Monday, April 1. Medical marihuana is now legally available in the Czech Republic for patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious conditions. They will be able to get electronic prescriptions for cannabis from their doctors. All medical marihuana will be imported; the authorities will only allow Czech firms to grow medical marihuana in a year’s time. The changes to the health care system also include a new regulation of organs transplantations; Czech patients can now receive organs from foreign nationals who die in the Czech Republic.
Snow on Monday continues to disrupt traffic in parts of the Czech Republic. Some roads in the northeastern Moravian-Silesian region are covered with ice; however, most major roads and motorways have been cleared. Bad weather has also caused problems on the rail where several local routes had to be closed for traffic. The police have registered dozens of car accidents over the last 48 hours; more problems are expected later on Easter Monday when many people are returning home from family visits.