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.
Workers renovating a house in Dolní Vilémovice (where Jan Kubiš – a British-trained paratrooper during World War II was born) recovered several unique items including letters, part of a military uniform, and photographs, Prague’s Institute of Military History revealed. Jan Kubiš and fellow soldier Jozef Gabčík pulled off a daring attack against acting Reichsprotector and ‘Hangman of Bohemia’ Reinhard Heydrich in 1942. Heydrich died several days later of his wounds. Kubiš, Gabčík and another five paratroopers were later surrounded at the Church of St. Cyril and St. Methodious on Resslova Street and paid with their lives for the assassination. Kubiš was wounded and died in hospital; the others committed suicide to avoid capture. The items in Mr Kubiš’s home were found under a stair that had rotted through.
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.
Two-time ice hockey world championship gold medal winner Tomáš Vokoun, a goalie who plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins, has told the news website idnes he will no longer play for the national squad. Vokoun led the Czech team to an unexpected victory against Russia in the final in Germany in 2010. Before that, he won his first gold in Austria in 2005. Vokoun told idnes that the Czech Republic had plenty of talented up-and-coming goalies and that it would be unfair of him to take a place on the roster. Vokoun did not play in the championship last year due to injury and missed the year before that when he sought a new contract in the NHL.
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.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has criticized Switzerland’s decision to
extend the validity of quotas for long-term residence permits granted to
citizens from eight EU countries including the Czech Republic. In a
statement issued on Thursday the Czech Foreign Ministry said the move was
discriminatory and called for the matter to be addressed on a European
level. The Swiss authorities announced the decision on Wednesday, bowing to
growing unease about immigration from poorer neighbours.
The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton also said she regretted the Swiss action, adding that it was contrary to the 1999 treaty signed with Switzerland on the free movement of people since the quotas differentiate between countries. Under the terms of the treaty non-EU Switzerland may invoke a "safeguard clause" which allows temporary caps on work permits if the annual influx exceeds a certain number.
The Czech Senate on Thursday approved four new Constitutional Court judges, accepting all the nominations proposed by President Miloš Zeman. The new judges are Jaroslav Fenyk, Jan Filip, Vladimir Sládeček and Milada Tomková. There were three vacancies in the 15-member court to date and another seven seats are to be vacated by the end of the year. Ahead of the vote President Zeman urged the upper house to vote prudently saying the Constitutional Court was on the brink of collapse and must be stabilized. The head of state has promised to submit four more candidates in June.
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.
Trade unions and employers on Thursday failed to agree on a planned minimum wage increase in 2014, leaving the decision in the hands of the government. While trade unions demanded a 600 crown raise, employers would not go higher than 400. Social Affairs Minister Ludmilla Mullerová said she would present both options to the cabinet for a final decision. The minimum wage is currently 8,000 crowns before tax and has not been raised since 2007.