The lower house of parliament on Tuesday backed a proposal to extend the current Kokořín national park by extending the protected area to take in the former disused military base at Ralsko and locality around Doks. The government proposal counts on the protected status taking effect from September and providing an important impulse to regional tourism. Opposition lawmakers from TOP 09 and the ODS parties unsuccessfully called for more debate in committee. The area has around 160 rare species and the presence of wolves was recently signalled by photos taken of one animal.
In ice hockey, Lev Prague has forced the finals of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) to the last of the seven match series after a dramatic win in Prague on Monday night. Lev came from behind to draw the game at 4:4 in the last period and then went on to win 5:4 in extra time against Magnitogorsk. The winner was scored by Canadian Nathan Oystrick. The Prague club will have a chance to become the first non-Russian team to win the Gagarin Cup on Wednesday but will be playing away at Magnitogorsk’s stadium.
In football, Czech international and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech trained with other members of the London club on Tuesday and has declared himself fit to play in Wednesday’s return leg of the Champions League semi-final against Atletico Madrid. Čech strained his shoulder only 15 minutes into the first leg last week and the rest season was expected to be over for him. Chelsea defended in depth to earn a goalless draw in the first leg against the current leaders of the Spanish league.
Czech singer Iveta Bartošová has died after throwing herself in front of train on the outskirts of Prague. The news was confirmed Tuesday to the news server tn.cz by her husband, Josef Rychtář. The 48-year-old enjoyed her first popular success as a singer in the 1980’s and it continued well into late 1990’s with film and musicals, including the hit musical Dracula, later being added to her repertoire. Bartošová won the Zlatý slavík popularity award for most popular female singer in 1986 and then again in 1990 and 1991. She was reported to have been suffering from psychological problems.
Czech head of state Miloš Zeman has said that Czech embassies should employ more economists and fewer career diplomats because the diplomats would do nothing to boost Czech exports abroad. President Zeman was speaking in a wide ranging speech at Prague’s Žofín Forum. He added that only investment in major infrastructure projects could reduce unemployment and increase the country’s competitiveness. The problem was that these were long-term investments and few politicians surmounted their short term electoral perspectives.
Former Czech president and self styled euro realist Václav Klaus has said that the Czech Republic currently has no influence in the European Union. Speaking at a press conference on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the country’s membership of the EU, Klaus said that what little influence the country might have had disappeared with the EU’s Lisbon Treaty. It had handed more powers to big states at the expense of the small, he said. Klaus said current Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka was kidding himself when he pretended Prague had a big role to play.
Minister of the Interior Marcel Chovanec has called for a police investigation into last Friday’s raid on Islamic sites in Prague, according to a report by the news server Aktuálně.cz on Tuesday. The minister is reported to feel that the intervention was insensitive and used excessive force. Members of the special police squad for combatting organised crime raided the headquarters of Prague’s Islamic Foundation and a mosque on the outskirts of the city during Friday prayers. Around 20 people were detained and charges relating to the propagation of hate crime were pressed against one of them. The Islamic community has complained itself about the police raid.
Minister of the Interior Marcel Chovanec has signalled that he wants to open the way to more banks to become the partner of the post office bank, Poštovní spořitelna. At the moment the exclusive cooperation rights are held by ČSOB but its contract expires in 2017. Business daily Hospodářské Noviny reported Tuesday that the minister would allow foreign as well as domestic banks to compete for the right to get access to around 2.0 million clients and a dense network of branches. Part attempts to open up the post office network to other banks have fallen foul to the fact that the post office is heavily reliant on ČSOB software and programs.
The Czech Radio Světluška Endowment Fund which was set up to help the blind and visually impaired is holding its third Night Charity Run in Prague’s Stromovka park on Tuesday evening. The night run, which starts at 9 pm, has two tracks one 3 and the other 5 kilometers long. It is possible to walk or speed walk instead of running. The first 1,000 participants to register will get head lamps for free. The registration fee is 450 crowns.
Czech and Chinese officials have signed a joint proclamation on resetting relations and boosting trade. The two sides say they respect the paths of development they have chosen, will not interfere in each other’s internal affairs and will create favourable conditions to promote trade and investments. The statement, signed in the course of Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek’s three-day visit to Beijing, also states that the Czech Republic respects the territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China and does not support the independence of Tibet. The government’s stance, driven by the need to diversify the country’s business interests and reduce its export dependence on the EU, has come under fire from human rights activists. The Czech Foreign Ministry counters that Prague is only adopting the EU’s common policy line towards Beijing and has emphasized that the joint proclamation contains a passage about respect for human rights.