Shadow Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has criticized Prime Minister Petr Nečas’s visit to Israel. He said that the visit was “unfortunate and wrong.” He added that no representative from any of the EU’s member states would consider paying a visit to either Israel or Palestine ahead of a UN vote on Palestine’s plea for independence. Mr. Zaorálek also slammed the Czech Republic’s overall foreign policy, which he says is not balanced and will ultimately lead to the country’s isolation. The Czech prime minister is in Israel for a two-day official visit, accompanied by four of his cabinet ministers as well as by a number of Czech business people and entrepreneurs.
Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger says that Austria will use any means available, be they legal or political, to prevent the Czech Republic from constructing new nuclear power plants. Mr. Spindelegger’s statement came on Friday; he added that energy policy needs to be understood in a European context. Austrian Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich slammed the Czech Republic, stating that the country has not “learned its lesson from the disaster in Fukushima.” The statements from cabinet officials back efforts of local politicians in the South of the country to fight the Czech Republic’s energy policy development plan, which includes the construction of further nuclear plants as well as the completion of the nuclear power plant at Temelín.
Hundreds of people said their last farewell to Czech ice hockey star Jan Marek, who was killed in the tragic Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash last week, in the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in his native Jindřichův Hradec on Friday. The farewell ceremony was open to the public for two hours. Hundreds of fans crowded into the church to lay down flowers and sign a book of condolences. At noon, a memorial service was held for close friends and family only. It was broadcast live for those who could not attend it.
Jan Marek was one of three Czech ice hockey players who lost their lives when a Yak-42 plane caught fire shortly after take-off from the Russian Yaroslavl airport. All forty-three players were killed in the crash.
The legendary Czech film director Otakar Vávra died late on Thursday at the age of 100. Mr Vávra made over 50 movies in his long career spanning over five decades; he shot his first feature film in 1936. His most acclaimed movies include Kladivo na čarodějnice, or Witches’ Hammer from 1970 in which he drew a parallel between the witch hunts of the 17th century and the situation of Czechoslovakia after the Soviet occupation, and the 1966 lyrical film Romance for Bugle. Mr. Vávra’s critics however note he always served the regime of the day; the director received awards before the war, during the Nazi occupation, during the Soviet occupation as well as after the fall of communism when President Václav Klaus presented him in 2004 with the Medal of Merit.
Far-right extremists will meet again on Saturday in the North Bohemian town of Varnsdorf, for a protest gathering against the local Roma minority. Police estimate that up to 100 extremists may travel to the event and are planning to deploy a minimum of 300 officers at crucial spots around town.
Last week, the Workers Party for Social Justice organized protest events in three locations throughout the region, where a series of racially-motivated gatherings have taken place over the past few weeks, with tensions between ethnic Czechs and Romanies escalating. Last Saturday, locals joined extremists in a spontaneous departure from the route of the march and attempted to attack a Romany housing unit.
Despite the current debt crisis, the integration of Balkan countries into the EU and their efforts to become member states remain important. Leaders from the Vysegrad Four announced their position on the issue following a meeting in Prague on Friday. The chairmen of parliaments from the four Vysegrad countries, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, called on EU member states to abide by the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties. Balkan integration is a key issue for Hungary, the head of the country’s national assembly László Kövér said. The chairman of the Czech Senate, Milan Štěch, said that integration of Balkan states into the union is one of the foundations for peace in the region.
The Czech Trade Inspectorate has uncovered fifteen incidents of discrimination against consumers. In one case, racial discrimination occurred when a landlord refused to rent out an apartment to a Romany woman. Other forms of unacceptable behavior towards consumers were for example offering the same service at two different rates, which happened most often in the realty and hospitality sectors. The inspection authority performed a total of 447 checks in the first half of this year. Nearly 200 offences were registered, with the total fines for that period approaching one million Czech crowns.
Six Czech tourists who were injured in a tragic bus accident in Northern Greece will be returning to the Czech Republic on a charter flight on Saturday morning. Four relatives of the injured persons will be travelling on the same flight. Another five will remain in the care of doctors in Greece, where a bus carrying Czech tourists collided with another vehicle on Wednesday afternoon. The bus was on its way back from a tour of Greek monasteries. Two people were killed instantly in the accident, another man died at hospital.
European Mobility week, a campaign aimed at promoting public transport and other modes of transportation such as cycling and in-line skating has kicked off in over sixty Czech cities. Municipalities have prepared discussions, exhibitions, and other events; in some, car traffic will be limited for several hours. In Prague, the main event is scheduled for Saturday, when the street Smetanovo nábřeží, which runs along the Vltava river, will be closed to traffic. Pedestrians will be able to try out new electric vehicles. In Brno, concerts as well as an in-line skating events are planned for the same day.
A court in Hradec Králové on Friday dealt a 14-year prison sentence to a woman who was tried for murdering her new-born and burning its body to get rid of the evidence. The 35-year-old gave birth to the baby in June of last year. She claims that it was born dead. Police became aware of the murdered new-born during an investigation of petty crimes in the Pardubice region, where the woman lived at the time.
The weekend will bring sunny to cloudy conditions with daytime temperatures of up to 24 degrees.