The European Union will take appropriate steps if the pre-election struggle in Bulgaria threatens the position of the Czech state-owned company ČEZ in the country, the head of the head the European Council Herman Van Rompuy pledged on Thursday during a meeting with Czech President Miloš Zeman. Hynek Kmoníček, the head of the presidential office’s foreign affairs dept. revealed the news a day after the two men met at Prague Castle. "We would like the EU to fulfil its role of the top supervisor on EU standards," Mr Kmoníček told the Czech news agency. ČEZ´s problems in Bulgaria, the CTK noted, began after Bulgarians´ mass protests against high energy bills. Demonstrators demanded the nationalisation of the distribution companies in the country that are owned besides ČEZ by another Czech firm, Energo-Pro and the Austrian EVN. The protests resulted in fall of Boiko Borisov´s right-wing government.
Ecological activists from Friends of the Earth have awarded the country’s environment minister, Tomáš Chalupa, this year’s Ropák (Oil Guzzler) anti-award for most damaging environmental policies. The organisation said the minister had been chosen for the distinction for a controversial bill on the protection of Šumava National Park, for supporting the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant, and allegedly failing to act in the protection of the environment. The minister responded by saying that receiving the award meant he was doing something right and not succumbing to what he called “green hysteria”. The Ropák anti-award takes its name from a fictional creature (invented by Czech filmmaker Jan Svěrák) which survives on industrial waste. This year was the 21st time it was awarded.
Two bodies were found in the Vltava River on Friday, one near Palacký Bridge and the other near an electric power plant at Štvanice. The criminal police have begun investigations into both deaths. The body found by the bridge is that of a 40 to 50 year-old man whose identity remains unknown. The police have released no details about the second person, whose body proved difficult to retrieve.
Prague City councillors on Friday agreed on an out-of-court settlement with insurance companies over the renovation of the industrial palace at Prague’s exhibition grounds. One wing of the palace was destroyed by fire several years ago. Under the agreement, the city will receive 280 million crowns compared to the 1.2 billion crowns or so the city was asking for before. The settlement comes after a court ruled that Prague had no right to compensation in the deal, as the site during the time of the fire, was leased to a private company.
A new study obtained prior to release by the Czech news agency, suggests
that in terms of structure psychiatric institutional care in the Czech
Republic most resembles systems in the former Soviet Union and the
setting it apart from current practices in western Europe, where the trend
has been towards community care and other support systems. The study was
conducted by specialists from the Prague Psychiatric Centre: care across
European countries was examined.
In Italy, for example, many mental hospitals were closed or reduced in size. In the Czech Republic similar steps could only be taken following the introduction of alternative systems to prevent the mentally ill from ending up on the street or in prison, specialists suggested. Currently, Czech psychiatry receives 3.5 percent of the annual healthcare budget; that is to be boosted to five percent after reforms are introduced. The European average is eight.
The driver of a French bus which crashed on a motorway west of Prague on April 8 has died bringing the death toll in the accident to two. A 15-year-old schoolgirl died in the crash and 23 other school children were injured. The bus was headed for Prague when it careened off the motorway near Rokycany, some 80 km west of the Czech capital, shortly after 5am. The police were investigating the accident as a possible case of negligence resulting in death. The case is now likely to be closed.
Prague Civic Democrat councillor Boris Štastný has announced his decision to resign his seat on the city council. Mr. Štastný said he was leaving in protest against the present style of management and what he described as guerrilla warfare tactics used by rival Civic Democrats and TOP 09 on the council. Boris Štastný is a long-term critic of Prague mayor Bohuslav Svoboda accusing him of letting the city fall into debt and making incompetent decisions. He said the two-party coalition was no longer functional and he was no longer willing to accept co-responsibility for the shady deals being made.
On a working visit to Prague the president of the European Council, Herman
van Rompuy said the EU had weathered the worst of economic crisis and the
future of the euro was no longer at stake. He said the EU must now focus on
jump starting the economy and creating thousands of new jobs in order to
secure the return of financial stability. Prime Minister Petr Necas said
that, while it was in the Czech Republic’s best interests to help the
euro zone’s recovery, Prague was in no hurry to exchange the crown for
the euro and such a decision would have to be made on the basis of a
national referendum. Mr. Van Rompuy assured his host the European Council
would not pressurize Prague on the matter, adding that since the Czech
Republic did not fulfil the respective critieria for euro zone membership
it was not an issue of the present day.
Mr van Rompuy also met with the Czech president, Miloš Zeman. The European Council president’s visit comes some three weeks after the head of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, attended the ceremony of hoisting the EU flag at Prague Castle.
Communist Party MEP Miloslav Ransdorf who has a 17 million crown debt has been unable to a visit from the bailiff and the confiscation of his real estate in Prague. His nine million crown house in Prague’s Libuse district and flat in Zabehlice are to be auctioned off on June 26th. The MEP allegedly owes money both to financial institutions and close friends.
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