The Czech Republic will not for the present time take an active part in a NATO military operation to enforce a UN arms embargo on Libya, although it welcomes NATO involvement, Czech Defence Minister Alexander Vondra said following a NATO ambassadors meeting in Brussels on Tuesday. The North Atlantic Council, NATO's decision-making body, agreed on implementing the arms embargo from the sea but stopped short of a bigger commitment. Ambassadors of the 28-nation military organisation met in Brussels to seek a compromise over a role for NATO in the international campaign amid divisions between member states.
The opposition Social Democrats have initiated a debate in the lower house of Parliament on possible Czech participation in a military operation against the Gaddafi regime, should NATO decide to take a more active role in the coming days. Social Democrat MP and lower house deputy chair Lubomir Zaoralek said the Czech Republic could offer its anti-chemical warfare specialists.
On a working visit to neighbouring Austria, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas has told officials the two countries should respect each other’s decisions on nuclear power. The Austrian visit was overshadowed by heightened concerns over nuclear safety in the wake of radiation leaks in Japan following a massive earthquake and tsunami. Responding to calls for the closure of Europe’s oldest plants, Mr. Nečas called for a rational debate saying the Czech Republic was ready to learn from the Japanese disaster, but was against making hasty decisions. He stressed that nuclear safety had always been and would remain a top priority and pointed out that both Czech nuclear power plants fully adhered to Europe’s strict safety norms. Nuclear-free Austria has long pushed for the closure of the Czech power plants, particularly Temelin located close to its borders.
Over three thousand senior citizens and people with disabilities gathered in Prague and Brno on Tuesday to protest against the government’s social welfare reform plans. The demonstration was called by the National Council for People with Disabilities which claims that the proposed measures will lower the living standard of those who most need support and will reverse much of what has been done to help disabled citizens lead an active and fulfilling life. One of the most controversial measures is a new set of criteria according to which benefits would be allotted. The government says it will make the system simpler and more effective, those concerned say it will rob them of the benefits they have, leaving them isolated and home-bound.
Defence Minister Alexander Vonda went before Parliament’s defence and security committee on Tuesday to explain the recent raid at Czech television by a military police commando. The special unit had a court order and was reportedly searching for a classified military intelligence file that one of the editors had previously acquired. The incident evoked widespread condemnation from politicians across the political spectrum and resulted in the head of the military police and two commanders being suspended from office. Although the defence minister has criticized the demonstration of force as plain stupid he maintains that the leak of classified information from the Czech Defence Ministry must be investigated. Czech Television has filed criminal charges against the military police over the incident.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel made his debut as a filmmaker as his movie “Leaving”, based on his own play, premiered in Prague on Tuesday. The screening took place at the Lucerna cinema in Prague's historic centre, built by Havel's grandfather, an architect and entrepreneur. The film, due to hit cinemas across the Czech Republic on Thursday, is based on a play written by Havel after he ended his career as president. It tells the story of a leading politician who, as he prepares to leave power, sees his world collapse amid treachery and a merciless confrontation with an unscrupulous successor.
The 41-year-old suspect in the rape and murder of nine-year-old Anička in Prague last October remains in serious condition after attempted to hang himself in a Pankrác prison holding cell. He was transported to Prague’s Military Hospital where doctors are keeping him in an artificial sleep. They say that he has a swelling of the brain which could leave him permanently damaged and possibly bring on amnesia. The man was last week charged with the murder and rape of the child after police discovered her body buried in the district of Trója, near where she was last seen alive. Her disappearance, which shocked the country last autumn, led to extensive searches over the last five months by the police.
Tomas Martinec is the new head of the anti-corruption police, the CTK news agency reported on Tuesday. He replaces Libor Vrba who stepped down in February. No official selection process was held, on the argument that Martinec had the same professional rank and has extensive managerial experience.
Boxing legend Mike Tyson is expected to arrive in Prague on Wednesday for a three day visit that will include an appearance at the gala event Heroes’ Gate 3 and a visit to a Prague hospital to help raise money for sick children. It will also be possible to pay to take part in two one-and-a half hours of training with the former champ. Tyson’s planned visit to Prague last autumn failed to take place due to financial and technical problems.
An elephant calf born in Ostrava Zoo ten days ago is making a fast recovery after the mother started nursing her young. Zoo keepers feared for its life after the mother not only refused to nurse her firstborn but was openly aggressive in its presence. It is the first elephant calf born in captivity in the Czech Republic.
The coming days should be warm and sunny with day temperatures between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius.