Czech President Václav Klaus expressed his opposition to the idea of a no-fly zone being introduced over Libya, ahead of Friday’s emergency EU summit about the troubled North African country. Fighting continues there between rebels and supporters of the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Speaking to journalists ahead of the summit, Mr Klaus said a no-fly zone was ‘regular war’, suggesting that a tough message by the EU on Friday calling on Mr Gaddafi to step down immediately was needed instead – including that there would be no dealings or compromise with the regime. Later on Friday, all 27-member EU states agreed that Mr Gaddafi must surrender power. The BBC quoted German Chancellor Angela Merkel as saying that anyone who waged war against his own people was “no partner” for talks with the European Union.
The idea of a no-fly zone may still gain traction but reportedly requires more planning. The idea has been heatedly discussed by officials in recent days as a possible option to help stop attacks by Mr Gaddafi’s forces. They have continued to bomb targets, including a refinery and residential area on Friday, sources said.
The Council for Research, Development and Innovation has said that the two last governments spent hundreds of millions of crowns on research projects (wrapping up in 2009) which ended without results or with results which were not officially recognised. According to a report by the government advisory body just released, some 514 million crowns (out of a total of 2.8 billion) were spent on projects which proved ineffective. The council, which is headed by the prime minister, pointed to the Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs and the Environment Ministry as responsible for a large percentage of controversial projects and warned that the latest results needed to be taken into account when the government proposed state spending on R&D for 2012. The centre-right cabinet headed by Prime Minister Petr Nečas, is to discuss the report next week.
Former Czech president Václav Havel has told a Czech newspaper he does not believe Parliament will approve a law opening the way for direct presidential elections, despite a pledge by the current ruling coalition to push for changing the system. Mr Havel told Hospodářské noviny, in an interview conducted prior to his current hospitalisation, that he strongly favoured the head-of-state being elected by the people because it would give the president a different kind of legitimacy. However Mr Havel stressed he was sceptical about the possibility that a direct election would be introduced. In his view that would mean that Parliament would lose a significant privilege. Under the current system the Czech president is elected to a five-year term in a joint session by legislators from the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
Foreigners who are not fully fluent in Czech, but who live in the Czech Republic will receive special explanatory notes in their mother tongue in order to fill in the Czech-language sheet in the upcoming national census, spokesman Ondřej Kubala said on Thursday. Foreign nationals living in hotels, boarding houses or dormitories are to be counted in the census as well. According to the official, the notes will be available in eight languages, including Vietnamese, Ukrainian, Romany, English and Russian. Ukrainians constitute the most populous group of foreigners in the Czech Republic - over 124,000 people; 46,840 have permanent stay permits. The Vietnamese community is also large: there are 60,301 Vietnamese with a legal stay permit, 36,634 of whom have permanent residency. Mr Kubala stressed that the census "applied to everyone," including foreigners. However, the latter would fill in fewer data, he said.
Visitors paid their last respects to Věra Jirousová on Friday at Prague’s Strašnice crematorium. Ms Jirousová, a poet, art historian, signatory of the Charter 77 human rights charter and an influential member of Czechoslovakia’s underground arts scene, passed away in late February at the age of 67. Visitors at the ceremony on Friday included members of the influential rock band Plastic People of the Universe, with whom Ms Jirousová collaborated, as well as her ex-husband Ivan Jirous, also a poet. Other guests included Ivan Havel, young politician Matěj Stropnický and the Green Party’s Kateřina Jacques. Věra Jirousová was remembered by a former deputy interior minister who spoke at her funeral as someone who had “lived in poetry and images”.
A 27-year-old woman in the west of the country - who attempted to kill her own five-year-old daughter last year by giving her antifreeze to drink – has been handed an extraordinary sentence of 25 years in prison. The ruling was handed down on Friday by the regional court in Plzeň. The state prosecutor had asked for a tough sentence between 20 and 30 years behind bars. The defendant in the case, the court found, bought car antifreeze last August and carefully planned to poison her child, mixing the substance with tea. The little girl fell severely ill and was only saved due to the diligence of doctors, who were able to treat her after the mother had a change of heart and called for help. The judge presiding over the case stressed it was just short of a miracle the child had survived and stressed it was not the mother but healthcare specialists who had saved her life.
Police apprehended two Romanian nationals wanted by Interpol on Thursday at Prague’s Ruzyně international airport. One of the men is a 37-year-old fugitive wanted for double-murder, and had been avoiding a sentence of 21 years in prison. His 41-year-old accomplice is believed to have violated a ban from 2007 blocking him from visiting the Czech Republic. The duo reportedly had false identification.
The Danish children’s toy company Lego, which runs a production facility in Kladno near Prague, has said it will add two new halls soon in the aim of raising production by 60 percent and creating an estimated 200 new jobs. Lego already employs 1,100 people in the Kladno area. The head of the Kladno branch Carsten Rasmussen said on Friday that the construction of the additional space would cost 1.2 billion crowns. Lego would like to open the new halls by next May. The mayor of Kladno, Dan Jiránek, who negotiated with the firm, said that the town would have to invest around five million crowns for new sidewalks, streetlamps and bus stops.
News website idnes has reported that the seminal 1980s and ‘90s pop band Depeche Mode have commissioned a new video which is being shot at locations around the Czech Republic to be set to one of their most famous singles Personal Jesus. Idnes wrote on Thursday that key locations were areas in the Plzeň region, including Rabštejn nad Střelou but stressed that the band – which includes lead singer David Gahan – was not taking part in the filming. Depeche Mode have a strong fan base in the Czech Republic dating back to the 1980s; they performed two concerts in Prague within several months of each other in 2009/2010 – one being an outdoor performance at Prague’s Slavia football stadium.
Top league-leaders Plzeň will host Sparta Prague on Saturday in what is promising to be a key match-up in the second half of the football season. Plzeň lead the table by a mere two points, Sparta would like to take three points from the match with a win to lead the table for the first time. Both sides say the game does not have to decide anything in the long run, stressing there are still ten rounds to go. All the same football viewers are expecting a thrilling match-up, saying the potential winner could gain at least something of a psychological edge going into upcoming matches.
The start of the weekend should see some clouding over mixed with sunny periods. Daytime temperatures will range from between 0 to 12 degrees Celsius in places.