The chief of the Czech army’s general staff, Petr Pavel, has warned that the military is seriously underfunded. Addressing a conference in Prague marking the 15th anniversary of the country’s accession to NATO, General Pavel said the army was below sustainability levels; if the situation is not promptly addressed, the army will lose some of its capabilities, according to the chief of the general staff. This year, the Czech military is set to receive around 43 billion crowns which is some 12 billion less that it needs, according to army officials.
Two Prague restaurants, the Degustation Bohême Bourgeoise and the Alcron, have retained their Michelin stars, according to the 2014 edition of the Michelin guide to Europe released on Wednesday. Both restaurants first received one Michelin star in 2012, a rating they retained last year as well. No other eatery was added to the prestigious list this year; however, five Prague restaurants – Divinis, Aureole, Sasazu, Aromi and Sansho – received the lower Bib Gourmand rating this year from the French company.
The Czech Republic on Wednesday marked the 15th anniversary of its membership of NATO. Addressing a conference at Prague Castle, President Miloš Zeman criticized the country's low defence spending, and said the ongoing crisis in Ukraine should speed up the establishment of a joint EU defence force. A special guest at the Prague conference is former NATO Secretary General George Robertson, who led the security alliance during the Czech Republic’s first years as a member. Czech Minister of Defence Martin Stropnický wrote on Wednesday that NATO membership was the main Czech goal after the collapse of communism and was a significant and symbolic sign that the country had been accepted as part of the West. The Czech Republic joined alongside Poland and Hungary at a ceremony in Independence, Missouri.
The US House of Representatives has passed a resolution recognising former Czech president Václav Havel’s contribution to the fight against communism, to the Velvet Revolution of November 1989, and entry of the Czech Republic into NATO. The resolution will also result in a bust of Havel joining those of a select few foreign and US leaders in the Congress building. Only three foreign statesmen have previously received such recognition. Havel was already awarded the US’ highest civil award, the medal for freedom, in 2003.
In ice hockey, Czech coach Miloš Řiha has unexpectedly been sacked from his job as trainer of the Continental League team Avangard Omsk. The Russian team said that Řiha did not turn up to lead the team’s training session on Monday. Řiha said that he was ill. The Czech trainer moved to Omsk after leading HC Pardubice in the 2012-2013 season. He previously trained Petrograd and Spartak Moscow during an eight year stint in the Russian league and was named the best trainer in that league in 2011.
Czech Winter Olympics snowboardcross gold medallist Eva Samková has been seriously injured during training for a world cup event in Switzerland. Samková badly damaged her ankle, one arm, and was severely concussed after falling badly at the end of a jump. She was taken to hospital by helicopter. Samková was training in her first event since the Sochi games. Her coach said that organizers had been warned about the danger of the jump where Samková and other competitors were injured.
Czech president Miloš Zeman has dismissed any resurrection of US plans to construct an anti-missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland by saying it would be ineffective. Zeman’s spokesman said that the head of state was standing by his long held views on Czech participation in a US anti-missile defence system. Republican Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain suggested the US revive its plans for a radar station in the Czech Republic and anti-missile base in Poland as reaction to Russia’s intervention in the Ukraine crisis. The plans developed under former president George W Bush were quickly dropped by successor Barack Obama soon after he became president. Moscow frequently protested the proposed siting of the missile defence system in Central Europe saying that it was aimed at undermining its defences and not a move to counter so-called ‘rogue states’.
Members of the Czech NGO Dekomunizace have raised a giant banner at City Hall in Liberec, north of Prague, casting Russian leader Vladimir Putin as Adolf Hitler - complete with the Nazi dictator’s moustache and medals on his overcoat featuring the swastika and the red star. The banner was hung close to a memorial remembering nine in Liberec who were killed during the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Dekomunizace, dedicated to casting light on crimes committed by the former regime, made clear it was protesting Russia’s recent invasion of Crimea and intervention in Ukraine’s domestic politics. The banner was raised with permission by City Hall; the police, however, began to investigate after charges were filed.
Brno Christian Democrats say they will push for an amendment requiring parents to register their pre-schoolers at nursery schools in the same district as their home address. Local district mayor Klára Liptáková pointed out that a loophole in legislation currently allowed parents to register their children at schools in neighbouring districts or further, afield, taking up spots which would otherwise go to local children. Generally, placement in nursery schools can be limited; the aim, officials said, was to ensure a better balance so that some facilities were not overburdened while others had trouble filling classrooms. The mayor and other Brno Christian Democrats plan to address their party MPs.
The British Embassy and Prague City Hall are discussing possible sites for a new monument commemorating Czechoslovak pilots who served in Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II, the British Ambassador to Prague Jan Thompson has said. The statue, a winged lion to be cast in bronze, was funded by the British community and will be unveiled in a special ceremony on June 17. Eighty-eight Czechoslovak airmen fought in the Battle of Britain; over the course of the war, a total of 2,500 Czechoslovaks served in the RAF.