The great Italian composer of film scores, Ennio Morricone, performed to a sold-out crowd at Prague’s O2 Arena on Sunday night. The seated audience of 12,000 gave Morricone, 85, a standing ovation at the end of a two-hour performance that featured many of his most famous composition from movies such as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in America and The Untouchables.
The two biggest parties in the coalition government, the Social Democrats and ANO, are at loggerheads over who to nominate for the post of the Czech Republic’s European Union commissioner, iDnes.cz reported. ANO is pushing Pavel Telička, who was briefly an EU commissioner in the period after the Czech Republic joined the bloc in 2004. The Social Democrats have rejected Telička’s nomination but have not yet put forward a candidate of their own. iDnes.cz suggested that the new government, which is pro-European, would prefer a more distinctive EU commissioner than the Czech Republic’s current representative, Štefan Fülle.
The Czech Republic presently has the worst record in drawing of EU funds of the entire 27-member block, the Czech Minister for Regional Development Věra Jourová told journalists following Monday’s cabinet meeting. Ms. Jourová said that in the period between 2007 and 2013 the Czech Republic had placed bottom of the EU list due to a lack of know-how in securing grants and a reputation of abusing funds. Last year alone the country failed to draw the equivalent of 10 billion crowns of potentially available money, out of an overall 16 billion left untapped. The minister said that this year the Czech Republic could fail to draw as much as 24 billion crowns, with the biggest problems at the environment and education ministries.
Addressing a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said the European Union must be ready to impose sanctions on Ukraine if President Yanukovych persists in using brute force against political opponents. The Czech Foreign Minister said it was unacceptable to see human rights being blatantly violated on the borders of the European Union and stressed it was essential to take action before the situation got totally out of control. He said the Soviet-style authoritarian rule implemented by President Yanukovych was close to what his own country had experienced in the past and urged the EU to use all tools at its disposal to bring the crisis to an end. Sanctions on Ukraine have become a point of divergence between the EU and the United States which is in favour of tougher action.
Eurostat deputy chairwoman Marie Bohatá has confirmed that she is leaving the post in June of this year after ten years in office, the daily Hospodářské Noviny reported on Monday. The paper speculates that the former Czech interim prime minister, Jan Fischer, may make a bid for the job. Like Ms. Bohatá, Mr. Fischer headed the Czech Statistics Office and he also served as vice-president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Mr. Fischer is reportedly also being considered as Czech ambassador to Luxembourg.
A 52-year-old priest from Havlickuv Brod has been arrested and charged with rape, child abuse and pornography. He remains in detention at the Hradec Kralove jailhouse. The priest is suspected of having raped a 37-year-old woman and sexually abused a 13 year old girl whom he also used to make child porn photos. The woman who reported the case said she had been raped on several occasions and had been under severe psychological pressure from the priest. If convicted the man could face up to ten years in jail.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, says he aims to fill vacant ambassadorial posts as soon as possible. He made the comments on a TV debate show on Sunday. The Czech Republic is currently lacking 11 ambassadors while the terms of another 32 are due to end before the end of this year. Mr. Zaorálek refused to rule out the possibility of Jan Fischer, a former interim prime minister and interim finance minister, becoming Czech envoy to Luxembourg. Mr. Fischer was for two years vice-president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is based in the country.
The Czech Republic’s Fed Cup team will have to complete their first round tie against Spain on Monday, after rain caused complications in Seville. Only one rubber, in the singles, was played on Saturday and Sunday, with the Czechs’ Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová losing to Clara Suarez. The leading Czech women’s player Petra Kvitová pulled out due to illness.
Over 1,000 people watched a free live screening of Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka live from the New York Metropolitan Opera on a Prague square on Saturday evening. Rusalka was the first Czech opera to feature in the popular series, which is beamed to cinemas and other venues around the world. A spokesperson for the company that runs such projections in the Czech Republic, Aerofilms, said the technical quality of the screening on Náměstí Republiky was below that achievable in a cinema but that they had attempted to create the best possible conditions for the open air event.
A senior Christian Democrat says the leaders of his party, the Social Democrats and ANO should meet early next week to discuss a joint position on a Communist-tabled vote to remove a law preventing those who collaborated with the pre-1989 secret police from holding high office. Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka said on a TV debate show on Sunday that the other parties in the government had promised his Christian Democrats they would seek to preserve the current legislation. However, the Social Democrats and ANO have said they will not instruct their deputies on how to vote on the matter. The Christian Democrats said on Friday they would quit the coalition – which is set to seek confidence on February 18 – if the bill made it into a second reading.
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