Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the news website idnes.cz on Saturday there was no resolution in sight to his ongoing row with the president, Miloš Zeman, over ambassadorial appointments. The dispute broke out last month when President Zeman proposed the wife of Václav Klaus, Livia, as the ambassador to Slovakia and former Czechoslovak astronaut Vladimír Remek, to the Czech mission in Moscow. The nominations were rejected by Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg who maintained it was his role to nominate ambassadors who are only then appointed by the president. On Saturday, Mr Schwarzenberg said there was no development in the row which could take “a year or two” to resolve.
In an interview for the Austrian weekly Profil, Czech President Miloš Zeman criticized EU’s numerous regulations. The European Union should not regulate light bulbs, smoking and alcohol, Mr Zeman said. The Czech president also voiced his objections to EU’s bailout for Greece and Cyprus, and reiterated that the Czech Republic should soon adopt the euro.
The Czech government is going to back a motion in the lower house to
establish a remembrance day of the victims of Romany Holocaust, the news
agency ČTK reported on Saturday citing government documents. A group of
MPs from several parties want to introduce March 7 as the Remembrance Day
of the Victims of Romany Persecution during WWII; on that day in 1943, the
first transport of Bohemian and Moravian Romanies was sent to the Auschwitz
extermination camp. In total, nearly 9,000 Romanies were murdered in the
Holocaust, nearly 90 percent of their pre-war population.
All ministries have expressed consent with the idea; however, the Foreign Ministry noted Holocaust victims are remembered on January 27. Should a special day be established to honour Romany victims, the ministry said, it might be necessary to also remember victims from other ethnic or social groups persecuted during the war.
The anti-corruption unit of the Czech police has launched investigation of IT contracts at the Agriculture Ministry. The police have moved on the basis of a criminal complaint, filed by the country’s Supreme Auditing Office earlier this year. The auditors say that between 2005 and 2011, the ministry spent around one billion crowns on technologies and equipment it did not need, and bought them without a tender as required by law.
A draft agreement on transferring prisoners between the Czech Republic and Vietnam is being discussed by Czech government ministries, a spokeswoman for the Justice Ministry said. Under the bilateral agreement, Vietnamese national sentenced to jail in the Czech Republic would serve their sentences in Vietnam while Czechs imprisoned in Vietnam would be transferred to the Czech Republic. After the document is reviewed by relevant ministries, it will be discussed by the Czech government, the spokeswoman said.
The senior coalition Civic Democrats have backed Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, of TOP 09, in his row with the president over ambassadorial appointments. In a reference to President Zeman’s efforts to take over the appointments, the Civic Democrat leadership on Friday said they rejected any extraordinary procedures, and did not want the country to move towards a semi-presidential system. Mr Zeman and Mr Schwarzenberg, formerly rivals in the presidential vote, have clashed over the president’s picks of ambassadors in Russia and Slovakia.
An anti-government protest, organized by trade unions and anti-government activists in Prague on Saturday, only drew several dozen people, the news agency ČTK reported. The organizers they were expecting up to 6,000 people to show up. This is another failed protest against the government in less than a month; on April 7, an anti-government group was planning to topple the cabinet but only around 500 turned up for the rally.
Two baby polar bears in Brno Zoo were named Kometa and Nanuk on Saturday, the winning names of an online poll. The bears were born last November as their mother Cora’s second pair of cubs. The zoo is planning to keep them for a year before exchanging them for other animals. The bears have been a huge attraction for visitors; last weekend, some 8,000 people came to see them.
Plzeň beat Jablonec 3:1 in the 25th round of the Czech top football division on Saturday, gaining a two-point lead at the top of the league table over Sparta Prague. Plzeň were losing after Jablonec’s Čízek hit in the 28th minute but equalized before the break, and added two more goals in the second half. Sparta Prague meanwhile drew 2:2 against Jihlava on Friday. There are five more rounds to be played in the Gambrinus liga.