Prime Minister Petr Nečas on Wednesday criticized President Miloš Zeman over his remarks over the post-war expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia. During his visit to Austria, Mr Zeman on Tuesday said the expulsion of around three million Germans was justified as 90 percent of them had voted for a Nazi party. He also suggested that for collaborators with an occupying power, the expulsion was less severe punishment than death penalty. Speaking in Prague on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nečas said the president should adopt a more measured tone, and realize that “we live in 2013 and are members of the EU”.
In related news, President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday concludes his two-day visit to Austria, his second foreign trip abroad since his inauguration last month. Mr Zeman visited the Austrian Parliament on Wednesday; at a meeting with Austrian and Czech entrepreneurs, the Czech president spoke about the future adoption of the euro by the Czech Republic, and it would protect the country against speculations with the national currency. Mr Zeman also said the two countries should increase economic cooperation.
A group of 25 MEPs on Wednesday called on top Czech officials to take
action against the destabilization of the country’s Institute for the
Study of Totalitarian Regimes, the news agency ČTK said. In a letter to
the Czech president, prime minister and the head of the Senate, the
deputies expressed their concern over the recent replacement of the
institute’s director, which could lead to the closing down of the
government-sponsored institute, the MEPs said.
Earlier this month, the institute’s overseeing board dismissed its director, Daniel Herman. Critics believe the move was politically motivated by the opposition which wants to change the discourse of the country’s communist past.
Czech judges and attorneys halted the prosecution of 757 people in 415 cases by the end of March on the basis of an amnesty issued in January by then president Václav Klaus, a spokeswoman for the Supreme State Attorney said on Wednesday. Around half of the cases were related to alleged economic crime. The controversial amnesty, which among other things ordered judges and prosecutors to stop cases lasting for more than eight years, came under severe criticism and prompted the Senate to raise high treason charges against then president Václav Klaus at the Czech Constitutional Court.
The Czech Government on Wednesday approved a controversial bill on the Šumava National Park. The draft legislation would, among other things, change the park zones and allow logging in places where it is now prohibited. The bill would also relax the rules for building skiing resorts and hotels. While the Environment Ministry believes the bill would provide better protection for the park against the bark beetle, but critics says it would in effect expose the park’s most precious areas to developers and logging firms.
Around 34 of Czechs want a snap general election, according to a new poll by STEM agency. Meanwhile, 16 percent of those polled said they wanted the current coalition government to continue until the next regular election scheduled for May 2014, and another 12 percent believe the government should continue but changes at some ministerial posts should be made.
The Czech Education Ministry has finalized a draft reform of university education, the news agency ČTK reported. The reform should give universities more autonomy, change the system of their financing and accreditation, and introduce several new fees such as for recognizing degrees earned abroad. The reform will also allow universities to hire experts without the otherwise required academic ranks. The draft reform will now be discussed by university officials. If eventually approved by lawmakers, it could enter into force by mid 2015.
The coalition of the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 group at Prague City Hall is undergoing another major crisis, the news agency ČTK reported on Wednesday. Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, of the Civic Democrats, abruptly ended Tuesday’s session of the council over disputes concerning a planned restructuring of the city hall. Council members for TOP 09 threatened to leave the coalition, and said they would announce their decision by Friday.
Czech Post on Wednesday began distribution new stamps with the portrait of President Miloš Zeman. The president’s portrait on the stamp was based on a photograph by Herbert Slavík. Czech Post has so far produced 10 million pieces of the new stamp which is worth 10 crowns. Previously, it had produced 94 million presidential stamps with the portrait of Václav Klaus, and 260 million with Václav Havel's image.
Czech model Eva Herzigová gave birth to her third son, the news website idnes.cz reported. The boy, named Edward, was born in London on Sunday, an associate of the 40-year-old model told the website. Eva Herzigová and her partner, Gregorio Marsaij, already have two sons, five-year-old George and two-year-old Phillip. Eva Herzigová started her modelling career in 1989, and has worked for Dior, Chanel, Victoria’s Secret and other brands.