Czech archaeologists say that a burial site of the pharaohs where they are excavating not far from Cairo, Egypt, has been put under army guard. The move has been taken to stop the site being pillaged and vandalised according to excavation team leader Miroslav Bárta. Objects at the site were attacked on Monday with the extent of the damage still to be ascertained, he said. The attacks came during unrest in the country and demonstrations calling for the current rulers to step down. Czech archaeologists have been working at the site for more than 50 years.
The Supreme Administrative Court has given a member of a Czech-Austrian noble family the opportunity to reopen property restitution claims according the Czech News Agency. The agency says Alžběta Pezoldová succeeded in three appeals against earlier rulings by a Prague court and can proceed with her claims. Those claims centre on property around Plzeň, Klatovy and Jindřichův Hradec. Mrs. Pezoldová belongs to one wing of the Schwarzenberg noble family through adopted grandfather Adolf Schwarzenberg. She has fought a long battle for the return of property taken by the Nazis and then by the Czechoslovak state after WWII.
The Ministry of Transport has rejected plans to turn the country’s main motorway between Prague and Brno into a three lane highway for a large part of its length according to the news server Aktualne.cz. Instead of adding an extra lane along a 160 kilometre stretch of the motorway the existing lanes will be widened, it said. The Ministry of Transport eventually decided that the 50 billion crown cost of an extra lane in each direction was too high compared with the cheaper reconstruction option billed at around 20 billion crowns. The major reconstruction is set to start in 2017.
Czech doctors confirmed their negotiating stance with the government at a meeting on Tuesday over their demands for higher pay and whether to end a campaign by doctors to quit their posts. Talks between the two sides stalled on Monday. Doctors outlined two basic demands: that a promised 2.0 billion cash injection promised by the government goes exclusively to doctors and that all those who want to return to hospitals where they have given notice will be allowed to do so. Those demands were confirmed at Tuesday’s meeting which rejected some calls for a more radical stand. Around 4,000 doctors, a quarter of the total working in hospitals, have handed in their resignations in a campaign for higher pay. Doctors say the ongoing campaign of resignations will only be called off if their demands are met. Meanwhile other health workers, such as nurses, are claiming a slice of the promised 2.0 billion cash injection. Doctors’ representatives are due to meet with the government again on Thursday.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on Tuesday came out in support of under fire health minister, Leoš Heger. He said that the health minister had offered all he could to meet doctors’ demands. He described the full demands as going beyond what was possible to meet from the current state budget. The foreign minister was speaking as the head of the TOP 09 political party. Party chiefs on Tuesday gave their backing to Mr. Heger who is also a member of the party.
The two junior parties in the Czech government coalition have stepped up the pressure on Minister of Defence Alexandr Vondra to explain an inflated contract when he was previously in government. The contract relates to audiovisual aids contracted for the Czech EU presidency in 2009 which Mr. Vondra was largely responsible for as deputy prime minister for European Affairs. Mr. Vondra has blamed a junior official for the contract placed without the required tender and which according to some estimates cost 10 times what it should have. Representatives of the TOP 09 party and Public Affairs called for the police to be brought in to investigate on Tuesday. Mr. Vondra has said he will step down if he is found responsible for any wrongdoing.
Solar power capacity totalling 1,820 MW was licensed and connected to the Czech grid last year, the Energy Regulatory Office said on Tuesday. The total means that the Czech Republic’s solar power capacity almost quadrupled over the year. At the end of 2009, capacity stood at 463 MW. The final figure for the 2010 Czech solar power boom comes in slightly ahead of the regulator’s original estimate of 1,650 MW for installed capacity, thanks in part to the inclusion of some facilities hooked up to local distribution grids. The Czech government was forced during 2010 to put a brake on the solar surge by steadily paring incentives for solar power. Nonetheless, one estimate is that the country will pay out by 2020 the equivalent of the construction cost of four nuclear power reactors in total support for solar capacity.
The Czech Republic has been placed in 16th place out of the European Union’s 27 for its use of new technology and innovation. That ranking below the EU average puts the country in the bracket of modest users of innovation. Two of the EU’s intake of new members from central and eastern Europe, Slovenia and Estonia scored better than the Czech Republic. The best ranked countries were Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Germany.
The Czech state ended January with a surplus of 10. 6 billion crowns, down from the 13.1 billion in January 2010, according to the Ministry of Finance. Income for the state coffers was around 5.0 billion lower than a year earlier in spite of increases in the sums brought in from Value Added Tax and excise duties. Central government spending slipped by 3.0 percent to 82 billion crowns although payments in social benefits and pensions rose.
In tennis, the two times winner of junior titles in the Australian Open Jíří Veselý has been named in the Czech squad for the first round Davis Cup match against Kazakhstan in March. The 17-year old who won both the boy’s singles and doubles titles in Melbourne has a chance of supplementing the Czech first choice players Radek Štěpánek and Tomáš Berdych. The Czech team reached the finals of the Davis Cup in 2009 losing to holders, Spain.
The coming days should continue partly cloudy with daytime temperatures creeping just above zero degrees Celsius. Night time lows may reach minus eight.