The head of the Roman Catholic church in the Czech Republic, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, has called on people to not vote for politicians who brought down the last Czech government. By implication he was referring to the country’s two biggest left-wing parties, the Social Democrats and the Communists, and a handful of rebels from the Civic Democrats and the Greens; they supported a no-confidence vote in the government less than half-way through the Czech presidency of the EU, a move which Cardinal Vlk described as irresponsible.
For their part, the Social Democrats said the prelate’s comments were unfortunate, unprecedented in the modern history of the Czech Republic, and incompatible with the mission of the church, arguing that they were linked to a legal dispute over former church property.
Czechs go to the polls on Friday and Saturday in the country’s second elections to the European Parliament. Over 30 parties have put forward candidates for the Czech Republic’s 22 seats.
Czech President Václav Klaus says he will vote in the elections to the European Parliament, despite having earlier this week suggested they would be a waste of time. Mr Klaus told Czech Radio that there were new parties standing who regarded the future direction of the EU as important. The president also said that while the country’s two biggest parties the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats disagreed about domestic issues, they had similar views on Europe. An active opponent of the EU’s Lisbon treaty, Mr Klaus said the European elections could represent something of a referendum on the document, after Czech voters were denied a real referendum on the matter.
In Paris on Tuesday the Czech president described the elections as unnecessary. His comments have led to a war of words with France’s foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, who said Mr Klaus was trying to “demolish” Europe. In reaction, the latter said in a statement issued on his website on Thursday that Mr Kouchner was trying to demolish democratic discussion.
A second case of swine flu has been detected in the Czech Republic. Tests confirmed that a woman who flew to the country from Arizona in the United States had the respiratory disease, the health ministry said on Thursday. The woman was taken to hospital last Friday, before being released two days ago. Ten days ago the country’s first case was confirmed; a pilot who flew from New York was believed to have contracted swine flu in the city. One hundred and seventy Czechs have been tested for the A(H1N1) virus to date, of whom 160 have tested negative, two positive and the rest are waiting for results.
Czech Interior Minister Martin Pecina, representing the Czech presidency of the European Union, said an agreement reached on Thursday on information-sharing would allow EU states to accept up to “several dozen” detainees from America’s Guantanamo Bay prison. Mr Pecina said, however, that the Czech Republic did not plan to accept any. The EU’s decision to share information on former detainees should help US President Barack Obama to close the much-criticised prison.
There was a 60-percent year-on-year rise in the number of bankruptcies in the Czech Republic in the first quarter of 2009, according to a study carried out by Cribis, a company which operates in the field of credit banking information. Around half of the 700 bankruptcies reported concerned individuals.
Former Czech prime minister Mirek Topolánek denies that there are photographs of him naked at the home of the Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi. An Italian newspaper quoted a lawyer for Mr Berlusconi as saying his client had initiated proceedings to prevent the publication of paparazzi photos shot at his villa because at least one featured Mr Topolánek naked in the garden, while there as a guest of the Italian prime minister. Mr Topolánek told Prima TV he ruled out the existence of such photographs, while his partner Lucie Talmanová said she expected an apology from the Italian media.
Two far-right groups the Workers’ Party and the National Party appear to have obtained registration at the interior ministry under false pretences, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. It said police were investigating the possibility that they used membership applications bearing fake signatures during the registration process. A lawyer told the newspaper it would be difficult to ban the far-right groups over false signatures. However, the interior ministry said that could prove useful if moves are made to outlaw them in future. A Czech court earlier this year turned down a government request to bar the Workers’ Party. The National Party was recently in the news over a pre-election advertisement promising the “final solution to the Gypsy problem”.
A new classical music festival entitled Radio Autumn will take place in September, the director of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra Jan Simon said on Thursday. Mr Simon said audiences were used to attending concerts at that time of year during the Prague Autumn festival, which no longer exists. Radio Autumn will be largely financed by the former main sponsor of Prague Autumn and will receive no funding from the Prague authorities or the culture ministry.
Tomáš Huebschmann will captain the Czech national football team in a friendly against Malta in Jablonec nad Nisou on Friday. The 27-year-old Shakhtar Donetsk defender last played for the Czech Republic four years ago, but is judged the most experienced player in a largely untried squad selected by coach František Straka. Straka was appointed in May; it is not clear if he will be kept on following the election of a new Czech football association executive later this month.
There should be bright spells with rain in places over the coming days, with temperatures of up to 17 degrees Celsius.