The caretaker prime minister, Jan Fischer, says if the two biggest parties do not agree on a new Czech European Commissioner within two weeks, his government will choose one. Speaking in an interview in Saturday’s Lidové noviny, Mr Fischer said he would prefer it if the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats could reach a deal on a candidate. However, that appears unlikely: the former are backing current social affairs commissioner Vladimír Špidla, while the latter support Alexandr Vondra. Prime Minister Fischer has indicated that if there is no alternative, he will put forward somebody whose approval by the European Parliament might be relatively smooth; that could favour Vladimír Špidla, Lidové noviny said.
The make-up of the next European Commission was to be discussed at an EU summit in Brussels next week. However, that meeting is likely to be dominated by efforts to have the Lisbon treaty approved by the Czech Republic and the new Commission will be on the agenda at a later date.
The remains of an unknown Czech soldier who died at the Battle of Zborov in 1917 have been returned to Prague. Speaking at the city’s airport when a Czech army plane carrying the remains landed, Prime Minister Jan Fischer said the foundations of the Czechoslovak state had been laid by the legions who fought in World War I. Defence Minister Martin Barták said the Battle of Zborov had been a great success thanks to the courage and military expertise of the Czech legionnaires, despite the fact they were facing forces that were better armed and equipped. On May 8, the anniversary of VE day, the remains will be interred in a restored tomb of the unknown solider at Prague’s Vítkov national memorial, alongside the remains of a soldier who fell at the Battle of the Dukla Pass in 1944. The Vítkov national memorial is being reopened on Sunday after extensive renovations.
Czech President Václav Klaus is planning to bring out a new book in the middle of next month, the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes reported. Kde začíná zítřek (When Tomorrow Starts) is expected to offer an appraisal of political and economic developments in this country since the Velvet Revolution. Mr Klaus has published dozens of books, including two questioning the theory that mankind is responsible for global warming. Mladá fronta Dnes wrote that his latest volume was likely to meet a stormy reception, as the president’s interpretation of events in the Czech Republic could differ strongly from those of other participants.
Civic Democrats deputy-chairman Petr Gandalovič says the party’s leader, Mirek Topolánek, should seek a vote of confidence at a party conference next month. Mr Gandalovič told Czech Radio that if Mr Topolánek says he wants a stronger mandate from the Civic Democrats, he should confirm that mandate in some way. He said he would put himself forward for the chairman’s post if Mr Topolánek did not receive such a mandate. Just a few days ago the Civic Democrats leader said November’s party conference would concentrate on policy and would probably not feature leadership elections.
Mr Topolánek has dismissed a possible challenge from Mr Gandalovič, saying he was neither a new face nor a real challenger. The former has headed the right-of-centre Civic Democrats for seven years and was prime minister between 2006 and earlier this year.
Four fifths of Czechs would like to see the country’s Temelín and Dukovany nuclear power stations completed, suggests a poll carried out this week by the internet-based polling agency SANEP. Finishing construction of both nuclear plants is part of a draft long-term energy plan put forward by the government recently. Two thirds of respondents said they would welcome more nuclear power stations in the Czech Republic. Temelín and Dukovany currently produce around one third of the country’s power.
Turnstiles are set to return to the Prague metro system, 25 years after they were discontinued, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The city’s transport authority plans to invest around CZK 3.5 billion on the new system, which should be in place throughout the city’s underground rail network in 2011 or 2012, the newspaper said. In the past entrance to the metro cost one crown, paid in the form of a coin inserted into a turnstile. The modern equivalent will make use of tickets, SMS tickets and electronic cards.
A gallery in Brno has cut short an open-air exhibition on the Moravian capital’s main square náměstí Svobody after exhibits were damaged two nights in a row. Two of six glass spheres housing designs in a travelling show put together by Denmark’s Index:Award were broken on Thursday night, before vandals smashed two more on Friday night. A representative of the Dům umění města Brna said the attacks were a disgrace. The perpetrators of Thursday night’s damage, two young men, apologised to the gallery and offered to cover the costs of the damages; they were drunk and attempted to take pictures of one another lying on the glass spheres.
Three thousand people attended a five-hour-plus marathon of TV advertisements at a multiplex cinema at Prague’s Slovanský Dům on Friday night. Noc reklamožroutů (Night of the Ad-Eaters) this year featured over 500 adverts from various decades and different parts of the world. The event is being repeated in Brno next weekend.
The Prague rock band Psí Vojáci are celebrating the 30th anniversary of their foundation with a concert at the city’s Akropolis on Saturday night. The group were founded by singer, pianist and songwriter Filip Topol when he was just 13 years old. They had trouble with the authorities and were only able to appear at illegal underground events in the early 1980s, but later became a big draw on the Czech rock circuit following the fall of communism.
The next few days should see sunny spells and temperatures of up to 16 degrees Celsius.