Members of the Civic Democratic Party have criticised TOP 09 deputy leader Miroslav Kalousek and others from fellow-coalition member TOP 09 for threatening to walk out unless the education minister Josef Dobeš – or his controversial aide Ladislav Bátora – resigns. On Friday several of them - including the head of the Civic Democrats’ deputies club Zbyněk Stanjura – echoed earlier statements by the prime minister, saying it was unacceptable for a single state official to “paralyse the functioning of the government”.
Mr Bátora became an issue for coalition members TOP 09 after insulting its chairman, the Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, on facebook where he called him a “poor little old man”. TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek said earlier that none of the party’s ministers would attend government sessions until either Minister Dobeš or Bátora himself stepped down. The latest is not Mr Bátora’s first brush with controversy: the official, who also heads an ultra-conservative civic association, recently made headlines for vocal opposition to a gay pride festival in the capital.
In related news, Education Minister Josef Dobeš, who sent an apologetic text message to the foreign minister earlier this week, has further distanced himself from Ladislav Bátora. The minister said on Friday that he had given the HR head precise instructions on future public conduct and made clear that if the advisor failed to heed them he would be replaced.
Also in related news, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has denied fresh allegations by coalition members Public Affairs that steps taken by TOP 09 in the Bátora case are only an excuse to stall the approval of tax reform at the government’s next meeting. The party pointed especially to the introduction of new taxes on gambling. The head of Public Affairs Radek John maintains that if the reforms are not passed by the end of the year, the government will lose seven billion crowns in potential revenues. The finance minister responded on Friday by saying that he was in no way against the proposal which was from his own ministry, and said he would not mind if the reforms were agreed by the cabinet even in his absence. He also suggested he may send a deputy minister to the next cabinet meeting in his stead.
Local municipalities in the Šumava area have said they will hold a “happening” on Sunday, expressing support for the Šumava National Park management – at odds with ecological activists who for weeks this summer held blockades to try and prevent continued logging. Activists have chained themselves to trees in protected areas of the park (between five to 10 remain) to prevent loggers from felling trees or stripping bark – steps they say are illegal. The move has been commissioned by the park’s management to try and prevent further devastation by the bark-beetle. Representatives organising Sunday’s event say that they expect several hundred people to take part.
Waste production in the Czech Republic in 2010 dropped by half-a-percent year-on-year to 24.1 million tonnes. But municipalities accounted for 3.3 million tonnes of waste – the equivalent of 317 kilos per head, a rise of 2 kilograms per inhabitant. Year-on-year communal waste rose by one percent. The numbers were released by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. In the long-term, more and more Czechs are recycling: back in 2002 roughly six percent of all gathered communal waste was set aside for recycling; in 2010 the number was 16 percent. Dangerous waste materials, meanwhile, dropped by 10 percent last year due to changes in industry.
The highly-respected Czech philosopher and priest Tomáš Halík will be presented an award for Europe’s best theological book for 2009/2010 at an international convention of theologians in Vienna next week. ČTK announced the development on Friday saying it is the first time the award will go to a writer from “Eastern” Europe. Mr Halík’s book is entitled “Patience with God” and has been translated into Polish, German and English. Last year it was named a book of the month by the US Catholic Book Club.
The famous Spanish tenor and conductor Placido Domingo will perform in the Southern Bohemian town of Česky Krumlov on Saturday. His concert will be the highlight of the International Music Festival Český Krumlov’s 20th anniversary edition. Organizers expect some 7,000 people to attend. The opera star said at a news conference in Prague on Thursday that he regards singing in the quaint Czech town a challenge and that he was very much looking forward to it. The singer is a 12-time Grammy winner and has performed both in the baritone and in the tenor range. He garnered international fame as one of the Three Tenors with José Carrera and the late Luciano Pavarotti.
Football club Sparta Prague lost 2:0 in the first-leg against Romania’s Vaslui – a preliminary round match-up for the Europa League. Temwanjera opened the scoring against the visitors in the 13th minute, a play in which Sparta goalkeeper Blažek was crashed by Gerlem. The Sparta goalie had to be treated for potential injury and looked shaky on Vaslui's second goal, also in the first half, when he mishandled the ball into his own net. In the second half he was replaced by Švenger. Sparta’s loss on Thursday was the Czech club’s first on Romanian soil since 1982.
Czech road-racing cyclist Roman Keuziger – who broke his arm during this year’s Tour de France has resumed training even though he still has a cast on his left hand. The rider, who has had finishes in the top 10 in the Tour de France in the past but fared poorly this year, announced on his website that he had gotten back in the saddle and despite initial discomfort was now riding three hours or so per day. Kreuziger rides for Team Astana and is training in the area of Plzeň in the Czech Republic.
Conditions over the coming days are expected to be mostly sunny, with daytime highs of around 25° Celsius.