President Václav Klaus was among several dignitaries who took part in a ceremony on Sunday afternoon marking the reopening after extensive renovations of the National Memorial on Prague’s Vítkov hill. The reconstruction project was carried out by the National Museum, which oversees the memorial, and took two years to complete. The National Memorial will now host a museum of Czechoslovak and Czech history, as well as serving as a venue for cultural events. The imposing building was created in the 1930s in honour of the Czech legionnaires who served in World War I. It was used as a parliament before later becoming a mausoleum for communist party leaders. The National Museum reopens to the public on Thursday, with admission free until the end of November.
If Czech political parties do not agree on a new European commissioner, the caretaker government could nominate Deputy Minister for European Affairs Marek Mora for the post, Czech Television reported. However, speaking on a TV debate programme on Sunday, Czech Foreign Minister Pavel Kohout said Mr Mora’s name had not come up in this regard. Mr Kohout said that in any case there were a few weeks in which to find a suitable candidate, given that the make-up of the new European Commission would probably not be on the agenda at an EU summit in Brussels at the end of next week. The caretaker prime minister, Jan Fischer, has urged political parties to reach agreement on a nominee. Otherwise, he said, his government would choose one themselves.
The Czech government is set to decide on Monday whether to accept the only bid it has received for the national carrier Czech Airlines. Finance Minister Eduard Janota has not said whether he will recommend that the cabinet agree to the offer from the Czech-Icelandic consortium of Unimex and Travel Service. It is the sole bidder, after Air France-KLM dropped out. However, there has been speculation that the bid will be rejected and the troubled company will remain in state hands. The government last week installed the head of Prague Airport, Miroslav Dvořák, as Czech Airlines’ CEO. He has secured an agreement with unions to cut salaries at the airline, which has seen record losses this year.
Czech police have had to stop using hundreds of cells at stations around the country because they do not meet international guidelines, Czech Television reported. The president of the Czech Republic’s police force, Oldřich Martinů, said that the police had to guarantee respect for the dignity of those they apprehend. However, some rank and file officers have criticised the cell closures, saying it could be dangerous not to have offenders behind bars at police stations. Mr Martinů said improvements on sub-standard cells would gradually be carried out, explaining the police did not have resources to modernise all the inadequate cells immediately.
A woman who left her seven-month-old son in a babybox in the Prague district of Hloubětín on Wednesday has come forward saying she wants the child back, the website of TV Nova reported. The founder of the Czech Republic’s network of babyboxs, Ludvík Hess, said the mother had had problems with money and accommodation when she decided to abandon her son. A court will decide next week whether to return the child, the website said. Since the system was launched in 2005, 26 infants have been left anonymously in babyboxes, 13 of them in Hloubětín.
Aneta Vignerová, a 21-year-old model from Havířov, has been named Miss Czech Republic 2009. Heading the panel of judges at Saturday night’s ceremony in Prague was Taťána Kuchařová, a former Miss Czech Republic who went on to become Miss World in 2006. This year’s Miss Czech Republic was broadcast live on Czech Television, the first time in 15 years that the public service broadcaster screened the event.
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.
The Prague rock band Psí Vojáci celebrated 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.
In all Czech final, Iveta Benešová and Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová beat Vladimíra Uhlířová and Renata Voráčová 1-6 6-0 10-7 on Sunday to take the doubles title at the Luxembourg Open. It was the fifth doubles trophy of Benešová’s career; earlier this year she and Záhlavová-Strýcová won in Stockholm. The pair also reached finals in Monterrey and Prague.
It should be quite sunny over the next few days, with temperatures of up to 16 degrees Celsius.