The chairman of the Senate foreign affairs committee says he believes the United States will never build a radar base in the Czech Republic. Jiří Dientsbier, who was Czechoslovakia’s first post-communist foreign minister, said on Sunday that the Obama administration had indicated it would drop plans for an anti-missile defence shield that would include a radar base in central Bohemia. Speaking on a TV debate programme, he also said US Vice President Joe Biden had always been against the successor to the so-called “Star Wars” programme of the 1980s. Mr Dientsbier said the global financial crisis could make a good pretext for abandoning the project.
Opinion polls have consistently suggested that around two thirds of Czechs are opposed to the planned radar base. Prague and Washington have signed treaties on the radar, though the lower house of the Czech Parliament has not yet voted on the matter.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, attacked the climate change campaigner Al Gore in Davos on Saturday. Mr Klaus reiterated his belief that global warming did not exist, adding that he was sorry people like Mr Gore were, unlike him, not ready to listen to competing theories. He said environmentalism and “global warming alarmism” challenged our freedom, and the former US vice president was an important person in that movement.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, the Czech president also said he was more worried about the consequences of the global financial crisis than the crisis itself. Mr Klaus, an economist by profession, said he was afraid the crisis would be misused to radically curtail the functioning of the free market.
Workers from 12 countries can begin applying for new green cards for the Czech Republic from Sunday. However, with unemployment rising in the country, it is unclear how many foreign workers will avail of the joint work and stay permit scheme, which requires that employers prove unable to find a Czech or EU citizen to fill a position for a period of 30 days (the first 30-day period has just ended). Among countries whose citizens can take part are Ukraine and former Yugoslav states. Vietnam and Mongolia, whose citizens have been coming to the Czech Republic in increasing numbers in recent years, have not been included in the green card scheme.
Rebel members of the smallest party in the governing coalition the Greens have set up a group called Democratic Challenge. The faction, who are opposed to the leadership of Greens chairman Martin Bursík, was set up by Dana Kuchtová, a former education minister who was forced to resign in September 2007. Ms Kuchtová said she hoped the party would return to operating democratically. For his part, Mr Bursík said he was sorry he had not been able to stop his opponent setting up the group.
The Czech branch of a music industry umbrella organisation has reduced the number of sales artists need to attain a gold disc. Six thousand rather than the previous 7,500 sales are now enough to earn musicians the accolade, a spokesperson for the Czech office of the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry said. The number has been lowered because of a decline in CD sales of around 10 percent year-on-year. Sales of 12,000 CDs are rewarded with a platinum disc. Selling 30,000 copies of an album is considered very successful on the Czech market.
The ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr has pulled out of the Czech Republic’s squad for the forthcoming Swedish Games because of illness. Tickets for the Czech Republic’s opening game at Prague’s O2 Arena this Thursday sold out on the news that Jágr had agreed to play in his first international tournament since 2006.
A Viennese-style Ball at the Opera was held at Prague’s State Opera on Saturday night. Among the guests were the Czech-born businesswoman Ivana Trump and Ian Gillan from the rock band Deep Purple. The first such Ball at the Opera was organised in Prague in 1948, while the last one – prior to Saturday – took place 14 years ago.
Forecasters have warned of strong winds in the Czech Republic over the next couple of days days, when it should also be cloudy with rain or snow. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 5 or 6 degrees Celsius.