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20-07-2015

Czech foreign minister calls deal between six powers and Iran "an opportunity and a success" but says next half year will tell

The country's foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, has called a deal reached by six powers with Iran last week, agreeing to lift sanctions in return for Iran agreeing to curb its nuclear activities, an "opportunity and success". But he warned that the next half a year would show whether the agreement was being respected. He made the statement in Brussels on Monday after a meeting of all 28 EU foreign ministers. On Monday, the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed the agreement, which aims at preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon. The resolution, co-sponsored by all 15 members, authorises the lifting of sanctions so long as Iran complies with the deal.

Czech Republic to draw on foreign intelligence services in hunt for missing Czechs

The Czech Republic will draw on the support of foreign intelligence services on the ground in Lebanon to help recover the five Czechs missing in Lebanon, foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek said Monday ahead of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. The minister added that an emergency meeting would be convened again on Tuesday. The five Czechs, who have not been identified, disappeared with their Lebanese taxi driver near the border with Syria. It later transpired that the taxi driver’s brother was detained in the Czech Republic last year on suspicion of terrorist links and has since been waiting for a ruling whether he should be extradited to the United States.

More than 30 valuable artworks missing from National Gallery collection

Around 31 valuable drawings are missing from the collection of the National Gallery, the spending watchdog, the National Audit Office announced on Monday. Some of the missing works are by Joseph Lada and František Kupka. A particular interesting case are some missing works by painter Jan Zrzavý, which appear to have been lost some time after they were lent for an exhibition in Amsterdam in 1999-2000. The National Gallery started criminal proceedings regarding the loss as the audit office checks were ongoing, that is at least 13 years after the disappearance probably took place.

First group of Czech military personnel departs for Iceland

The first group of Czech military personnel will depart for Iceland from the Čáslav military airbase on Monday, to prepare conditions for a new Gripen fighter jet mission. Czech-operated jets will guard the airspace above Iceland for the course of one month, taking over from Canada's Air Force. The Czechs, who have guarded Iceland’s airspace before, were asked by NATO to return. Four planes will fly missions, while one craft is being kept in reserve. Activities by Russian planes near Iceland are said to have increased, underlining the need for the country, which lacks its own air force, to protect its airspace.

Ministry to prepare ‘demolition’ plan

The Ministry for Regional Development is preparing a proposal for the use of state or other funds in the demolition of abandoned buildings in problem areas, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka confirmed on Monday. He made the statement while visiting the city of Ústí nad Labem in North Bohemia which has a number of such neighbourhoods, The prime minister outlined possible ways forward, saying the strict demolition of condemned buildings could be paid for by the state and local municipalities; another option is the apparent revitalization of areas following demolition, such as the creation of affordable or social housing, for example, which would involve European funding. The Ústí region estimates that some 250 million crowns would be needed to level problematic buildings.

Czechs consider radical Islam a greater security threat than situation in Ukraine, polls suggest

A majority of Czechs consider the radicalism of the terrorist group Islamic State, which holds large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, a greater security threat than the developments in the geographically closer Ukraine, according to a new poll released by the CVVM agency. According to the poll, 57 percent of those asked said they followed the situation with IS while five percent followed the situation in Ukraine. The survey was conducted in the month of June. A similar poll conducted by the STEM agency suggested that 82 percent of Czechs see Islamic fundamentalism as a threat.

Fire fighters in region of Zlín tackle storm damage

Fire fighters have been tackling damage from storms in the region of Zlín on Sunday, in which strong winds and flooding damaged a personal home. Chateau grounds in Buchlovice remain closed to the public as crews assess tree damage and overall safety. The most-hit region was that of Uherské Hradiště, where fire fighters responded to dozens of calls of fallen trees across roads or personal property.

Renowned violinist Václav Snítil dies at 87

Renowned Czech violinist and university pedagogue Václav Snítil had died aged 87. The dedicated musician, who ranked among the very top violinists in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic in the 20th century, passed away on Sunday after a brief illness, his son confirmed. As a young man, Snítil studied violin under Jaroslav Kocian and composition with Vítězslav Novák.

Pilgrims mark historic exodus at Mikulov festival

Croatian pilgrims travelling in folk costumes and on horse-drawn carts completed a roughly 1,000 kilometre journey from their homeland in Bosnia-Hercegovina to Mikulov in Moravia on Sunday to celebrate the final day of the annual Culture of Nations of Podyjí Festival. The ethnic Croatians were recalling an historic exodus from their homeland 500 years ago. The ethnic Croatians’ ancestors historically fled before the Turks to what is today Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. The festival in Mikulov – significant in the town’s cultural calendar – annually celebrates local minorities’ heritage and culture, from dance and theatre to traditional cuisine.

Tennis: Vaidišová will appear in ITF tournaments

Czech tennis player Nicole Vaidišová, once ranked 7th in the women’s rankings, will appear at ITF tournaments in Plzeň and Prague in August, after also playing in Poland. Last year she returned to tennis after more than four year’s absence, and currently ranks 278. She has not appeared in competition in Prague since 2009. Then, she was romantically involved with fellow tennis player Radek Štepánek, who she later married. Their marriage lasted three years.

20-07-2015