- Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said that a Czech contribution to an EU debt crisis scheme will likely be far lower than expected.
- The Czech government has agreed that a referendum on joining the EU fiscal pact will be held either separately or together with a referendum on entering the Eurozone.
- The Czech Republic plans to continue its practice of voluntary surgical castration for sex offenders despite harsh criticism from international human rights groups.
- Czech MEP Oldřich Vlasák has been elected one of the European Parliament’s 14 vice presidents.
- A woman who was attacked by a group of Romanies on New Year’s Day in the North Bohemian town of Varnsdorf has died in hospital.
Prime Minister: Czech contribution to EU debt crisis scheme likely far lower than expected
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Wednesday that the Czech central bank would most likely not channel 3.5 million euro (about 90 billion Czech crowns) through the International Monetary Fund as part of a European Union scheme aimed at fighting the debt crisis in the Eurozone. EU leaders had requested that Prague commit that amount at a summit last month. The Czech contribution –which is in effect a loan – will be “very significantly lower” since the majority of the government are opposed to contributing the sum requested, the prime minister told reporters. The actual amount the Czech Republic is willing to contribute will be announced by the Czech finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek, in a week from now.
At a last-ditch summit in Brussels in December, EU leaders drafted a plan under which European central banks would channel a total of 150 billion euros through the IMF in exchange for fresh pledges of fiscal probity from European governments.
Czech government wants referendum on EU fiscal pact
The Czech government has agreed that a referendum should be held on the Czech Republic’s possible participation in a new European Union treaty aimed at tightening budgetary controls in the Eurozone. The Civic Democrats, who lead the government, on Wednesday pushed the policy through in conjunction with Public Affairs, the smallest party in the coalition. TOP 09 deputies were opposed to the idea. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said a referendum on signing up to the pact could be linked to a second referendum on adopting the common European currency. He also said the cabinet would need the authorization of the president before it could negotiate or sign the treaty. President Václav Klaus has been critical of the pact and has said he will refuse to put his signature to it. Mr. Nečas said the government would only adopt a definitive position on the matter once a final version of the EU document has been produced.
Czech Republic to continue practice of voluntary castration for sex offenders
The Czech Republic will continue its practice of voluntary surgical castration of sex offenders, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told reporters on Wednesday. The practice, which has come under fire from international human rights groups, was not a violation of human rights and under certain circumstances could be a viable alternative to life-long detention, the prime minister said. He added that such a procedure always requires the approval of the sex offender and that only very few decide to undergo castration. The fact that surgical castration is still an option in the Czech Republic, one of the few countries to conserve it, has been criticized by the Council of Europe.
Czech MEP to take up vice-president post in European Parliament
Czech MEP Oldřich Vlasák has been elected one of the European Parliament’s 14 vice presidents. Mr. Vlasák, a European Conservatives and Reformists group member from the Czech Civic Democratic party (ODS), will be serving a 2.5 year term. Upon being elected on Wednesday, he said his main focus of interest would be the strengthening of Euro-Atlantic ties as well as improving the efficiency of the European Parliament. Czech Social Democrat Libor Rouček, who has held the post for 2.5 years, did not seek re-election due to an agreement under which the socialist faction in the European Parliament gave up two seats in exchange for German socialist candidate, Martin Schulz, becoming the European Parliament’s new president.
School in Poděbrady renamed after late Czech president Václav Havel
A month after the death of former Czech president Václav Havel, an elementary school in the Central Bohemian town of Poděbrady has been renamed after the late president. In a public ceremony, the school’s new name was unveiled on Wednesday. Václav Havel had studied in Poděbrady and lived nearby the school that now carries his name. It is the first school in the country to be named after Mr. Havel, who died on December 18, 2011 at the age of 75.
According to a Czech member of the European Parliament, it is also likely that one of the parliament’s buildings will be named after Mr. Havel. A petition to rename Prague’s international Ruzyně airport after the late president has received over 80,000 signatures to date.
Woman attacked by group of Romanies on New Year’s Day dies in hospital
A woman who was attacked by a group of Romanies on New Year’s Day in the North Bohemian town of Varnsdorf has died in hospital. Police said on Wednesday that an autopsy will shed light on whether she died as a result of injuries suffered at the hands of her attackers. Two of them have been charged with assault and battery. Police believe that one of the suspects may have had racial motives. Some 200 people gathered in Varnsdorf on Sunday to express their support for the woman and her family, who were with her when the attack happened. Crime and racial tensions have been escalating in the town since last year.
Survey: Social Democrats' deputy leader Jiří Dienstbier and lower house chairwoman Miroslava Němcová best-liked politicians
According to a fresh survey by the STEM polling agency, the best-liked Czech politician is Social Democrats deputy leader Jiří Dienstbier, with 55 percent of Czechs polled naming him their favorite politician. Respondents ranked lower house chairwoman Miroslava Němcová of the Civic Democrats in second place. Among those whose ratings slipped were Communist Party chairman Vojtěch Filip and Public Affairs’ leader Radek John. Mr. John's colleague Vít Bárta, seen by many as the de facto leader of the party, has also fallen in popularity, the survey suggests.
Police arrest two men suspected of robbing 70 graves
Police have arrested two men in the Litoměřice region who are suspected of robbing graves. According to police, the two suspects robbed at least 70 different graves, causing damages of over 500,000 Czech crowns. The thieves stole gold teeth, jewelry and other valuables from the graves and are facing a prison sentence of up to 3 years.
Court hands 13-year prison sentence to defendant in brutal murder case
A regional court in Plzen handed a 13-year prison sentence to a sixty-year-old man charged with brutally murdering his boss. The man, who worked as a truck driver, is accused of having shot his 37-year-old superior with two gun shots in November of last year. He allegedly disposed of the victim’s body in a nearby river. The defendant denied all charges and has appealed the verdict.
Severe weather warning issued for Moravian Jeseníky region
A severe weather warning has been issued for the Jeseníky region of the Czech Republic, where heavy snowfall overnight has left several roads impassable. Some 70 cm of fresh snow are causing serious traffic complications, especially in higher altitudes. A new wave of heavy snow is expected to hit the region Wednesday night. In South Bohemia, some roads are icy; drivers have been warned to exercise caution. Across the country, road maintenance crews are struggling to keep up with the heavy snowfall.
Mid-week weather will be cloudy with some sunny periods. Daytime temperatures should range between -3 and 3 degrees Celsius.