Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said on Monday in his view there is no bigger task before the EU than helping to find a peaceful resolution to the continuing conflict in Ukraine. He made the comment following a meeting in Solenice with Ukrainian children of Czech ethnicity from the province of Volyn. Some 30 children, the first group of three, will spend two weeks in the Czech Republic learning the language and other activities. According to the foreign minister, arms for Kiev suggested by some EU members would only threaten to escalate the conflict. He made clear the Czech Republic has from the start backed diplomatic steps to try and resolve the crisis.
A tripartite meeting of union leaders, government officials and employers failed to reach a consensus on Monday on any variant of relaxing brown coal mining limits. Representatives first want an evaluation of the potential social, economic, and safety impact before they return to the table. That could be by the end of June. The news was confirmed in the afternoon by Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek. Unions and employer representatives are calling for an easing of limits but it has not received backing from all within the government; most notably, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš is against.
Organisers have revealed details ahead of this year’s 22nd Febiofest international film festival to be held in Prague in March. Guests this year will include John Madden, the director of the Oscar-winning Shakespeare in Love, actor Jeroen Krabbé (known for roles in The Fugitive and Kafka), and Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher. American actress of Czech descent Kim Novak, 81, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller classic Vertigo and many other films, will receive the Kristián for her lifelong contribution to world cinematography. Her attendance this year was announced in January.
Police on Monday began preparing munitions from a damaged munitions site near Zlín for transfer to a new site in Kvetná in the Svitavy area. Each item loaded must be checked individually by officers. The first truck is expected to depart by Monday afternoon or evening. The original depot in Vrbětice, part of Vlachovice near Zlín, was damaged by a massive explosion in October of last year which killed two and led to dozens of uncontrolled blasts in the days and weeks which followed. It is estimated by the police that the transfer of all munitions from the defunct site will take several weeks.
Social Democrat senator Zdeněk Škromach says he is giving serious consideration to running for president of the Czech Republic in three years’ time. In the past, the long-time politician joked about running but on Monday he confirmed he was ready to do so if he received broad support from within his party. He told reporters in Brno, however, he was by no means launching an early pre-election campaign, recalling the bid by former interim prime minister Jan Fischer who he had said had run out of steam at the finish line. Mr Škromach has long ties to the current head-of-state Miloš Zeman: he was one of several party members who met secretly with the president after the last elections, a wing which allegedly tried to side-line current Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. As a result, he resigned as deputy leader.
The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by a former police officer convicted to 16 years in prison for murder. The court found there were no grounds for an appeal; last August the former officer, Miloš Babyka, stabbed his wife to death; he fled and spent a week on the run in the Plzeň area before he was caught.
Police in Olomouc announced on Monday they were searching for a 33-year-old colleague last seen last week. No word had been heard since Thursday and the police have asked the public for help, the Czech News Agency reports. The missing policeman, named Martin Mészáros, is of medium build, 1m 68cm in height. He has grey eyes and a shaved head. Anyone with information potentially related to the case has been asked to contact the police.
The Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic released statistics for 2014 on Monday, showing that 114 people died as the result of fires in the country last year – three more than in 2013. Of those, 52 people died in fires in their homes. Related damage was estimated at roughly 2.2 billion crowns. The head of the rescue service, Drahoslav Ryba, confirmed that in 2014 firefighters responded in more than 100,000 instances; a little less than 17,000 cases where they responded were fires. The most common causes of fires were technical failure, negligence and arson.
Nearly 6.000 people went to see the Vysehrad Codex, a unique Romanesque manuscript, which was temporarily on display in the Mirror Chapel at Prague's Clementinum during the weekend. The illuminated latin manuscript was written in 1085 to mark the coronation of the first Czech king, Vratislav II, and it is listed as a national cultural heritage. It was last displayed to the public in 1969. Thousands of people have also visited the Prague Castle Riding School to see the Bautzen Manuscript, the oldest existing version of the Dean Cosmas' chronicle from the early 12th century. The Bautzen manuscript will be on display until Monday evening.
The Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková won a 3000-metre race, part of the World Cup series, in Norway's Hamar on Saturday. The speedskating champion finished ahead of Carlijn Achtereekt and Ireen Wüst of the Netherlands. After Saturday's win, Sáblíková leads the World Cup rating with 430 points.
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