Heavy rains caused flooding in parts of southern Bohemia on Sunday. The region’s governor declared a state of danger, the second highest level of alert. Swollen rivers flooded several municipalities; some 400 people have been evacuated while hundreds of households have been cut off from electricity supplies. South Bohemia is the second region of the Czech Republic hit by flash floods in the past few days. On Thursday, parts of northern and central Moravia were flooded; thirteen people died in the floods while the costs of the damages have been estimated at more than two billion crowns.
Meteorologists warn that rains will continue into the next week, keeping the east and southwest of the country on flood warning until Wednesday.
In related news, Prague’s emergency council decided on Sunday to erect anti-flood barriers to protect the city’s historic centre from flooding. A low, level one flood warning will remain in place for the Vltava River until mid-week. The Czech capital was heavily hit by floods in 2002; a new anti-flood system was put in place to prevent any such disaster in the future.
The Czech government is ready to increase the deficit of the state budget in order to help people affected by the floods, Deputy Prime Minister Martin Barták told Czech TV on Sunday. Mr Barták said however that the cabinet would first look into other ways of providing assistance to the devastated areas. The government has so far granted 99 million crowns, or more than 5.3 million US dollars, of relief funds to those affected by floods in northern Moravia and southern Bohemia. Czech army has also sent 1,000 troops to help with the clean-up.
A conference on Holocaust era assets, which started in Prague on Friday, has called for assistance to impoverished survivors of the Shoa. The leader of the US delegation, Stuart Eizenstat, said on Sunday that “ten of thousands” of Holocaust survivors living in the United States, Central Europe and Israel, suffer from poor social conditions. Mr Eizenstat suggested some of the assets from heirless property whose owners died in the genocide should be used to provide assistance to the needy survivors.
The five-day conference is the last major event of the Czech EU presidency. It was launched on Friday by Nobel Peace Prize winner and concentration camp survivor Elie Wiesel. A declaration is to be signed by the Czech EU Presidency and EU Commission concerning education about the WWII genocide of European Jews, care of survivors and preservation of monuments linked to the Holocaust.
The Czech foreign minister, Jan Kohout, has welcomed the NATO-Russia agreement on resuming military cooperation. Mr Kohout considers the agreement, reached at Saturday’s NATO-Russia Council session on the Greek island of Corfu, to be a breakthrough in mutual relations. NATO-Russia relations were suspended last year following the Russian invasion of Georgia. While both sides have different views on the issue, the Czech foreign minister said the agreement would enable further cooperation in combating terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
The leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolánek, has shunned the possibility of forming a grand coalition with Social Democrats after October’s early general elections. Mr Topolák told Prima TV on Sunday that he would only consider such a move as an “emergency solution” and that a grand coalition would be a “defeat of politics”. The Civic Democrat leader said that he would prefer to form a coalition with the new conservative TOP 09 party, headed by the former foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg. Mr Topolánek also rejected allegations that he would like to become the new EU commissioner for the Czech Republic.
The head of the Czech Agrarian Chamber, Jan Veleba, told Czech TV on Sunday that further drops in the prices of milk would force farmers to cull as many as 20,000 cows. Up to 2,000 jobs might then be lost as a result. Mr Veleba said that due to low milk prices, Czech farmers will this year get some 4.5 billion crowns, or more than 240 million US dollars, less than in 2008. Farmers are planning to block Czech motorways on Monday as part of a nationwide protest against low milk prices.
President Václav Klaus told the daily Právo on Saturday that he might return to Czech politics after his presidential term expires in 2013. Mr Klaus said that he was considering coming back “under some new banner”. Political analysts believe that President Klaus might attempt to set up a new party and run in the general elections after having stepped down as the honorary chairman of the Civic Democrats in 2008 over ideological differences with current party leadership.
Passengers of a SkyEurope flight from Naples to Prague returned to the Czech capital on Sunday after having been stranded overnight in Italy. Around one hundred travellers were scheduled to leave Naples on Saturday afternoon but the local airport was closed at the time. A spokesman for SkyEurope said the delayed flight had nothing to do with the company’s financial problems. The Prague-based SkyEurope carrier was granted court protection from creditors earlier this week.
A TV commercial for a contemporary history exhibition at the National Museum in Prague won the bronze Film Lion at the annual Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in France on Saturday. The clip, entitled Munich, was made by the Prague-based EURO RSCG agency. It shows an elderly woman polishing showcases with exhibits, using a glass cleaning spray. When she gets to the showcase holding the Munich Agreement, she spits on it instead. Experts say the award is the biggest success for Czech advertising in the last five years.
The Munich Agreements, signed in September 1938 by leaders of Nazi Germany, Italy, France, and the UK, forced Czechoslovakia into ceding parts of its territory to the Third Reich.
Some 800 fans paid tribute to the late singer, Michael Jackson, in Prague’s Old Town Square on Sunday. They lit candles, laid flowers and played some of Michael Jackson’s biggest hits. Michael Jackson’s Prague concert in 1996 attracted some 120,000 people; it was one of the biggest live acts ever held in the country.
Ondřej Polívka won the European Championships in the modern pentathlon in Leipzig, Germany, on Sunday. The 21-year-old Czech took gold in his first ever appearance at the European Championship’s individual event. It’s the second gold medal for the Czech Republic in the modern pentathlon in seven years.
The start of the week will see overcast skies, with rain showers and storms. Highest day temperatures should not exceed 26 degrees Celsius.