Countless Hollywood movies and TV series have been shot in the Czech Republic in the last two decades. Casting director Nancy Bishop, who moved to Prague in 1994, has worked on many of those projects, from The Bourne Identity to Mission Impossible IV to the as yet unreleased Child 44. We began our tour of “her Prague” at Náměstí Míru, a square close to where she lives. As Bishop and I spoke, a passer-by tinkled the ivories on a free piano metres from our bench.
The annual multi discipline contemporary art festival 4+4 Days in Motion got underway in Prague of Friday evening. Now in its nineteenth year, the festival offers dance and theatre performances, public lectures and discussions and an exhibition, taking place in various venues across the city. The event runs until October 18.
From the Hussite wars of the Middle Ages to the Velvet Revolution of 1989, many pivotal events in Czech history occurred against a musical backdrop, at least in the nation’s collective memory. An exhibition at the National Memorial on Prague’s Vítkov Hill explores the links between music and politics, and shows what roles music assumed in modern Czech history.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek welcomed his Polish counterpart Grzegorz Schetyna in Prague on Friday at Černín Palace to discuss Czech-Polish relations and key issues. The foreign trip is the Polish minister’s third since taking over from Radoslaw Sikorski last month. The ministers discussed the impact of EU sanctions against Russia for its role in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, calling them crucial; they suggested the sanctions had helped blunt steps by Russia and helped a ceasefire hold. A unified stance on Russia, they agreed, was necessary not only for the Czech Republic and Poland, but within the Visegrad Four, which also includes Slovakia and Hungary. Mr Schetyna said that a unified stance on Russia by the V4 would be “better heard” in Europe and Brussels.
The 18th Forum 2000 international conference to get underway in Prague on October 12 will aim to assess democratisation processes over the past 25 years, following the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe, organisers have said. The conference this year carries the slogan “Democracy and Its Discontents: A Quarter-Century after the Iron Curtain and Tiananmen”. The main guests will include Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former Russian oligarch who was imprisoned under the Putin regime and Belarusian activist Ales Bialiatski. Participants are expected to debate current international problems including crises in the Middle East and Ukraine.
Tests on a suspected case of Ebola in a 56-year-old patient recently back from Liberia have ruled out the deadly disease. The man was admitted to hospital with a fever but no other symptoms and may be suffering from malaria or some other illness. This is the second Ebola scare in the country. In mid-September the health authorities tested a young man from Tanzania for the disease. Special measures have been taken at Prague’s international airport and the Bulovka hospital is equipped to deal with highly contagious diseases.
President Milos Zeman is to pay a state visit to China from October 23 -27th, the Office of the President said in a statement to the press on Thursday. In addition to a series of talks with top officials in Beijing, the Czech president will also visit the provinces. Economic issues are expected to dominate the agenda. The two countries are working to expand business ties after a reset of relations earlier this year. The Chinese Investment Form held at Prague Castle in August was the biggest event of its kind, attended by close to a thousand delegates. On his visit to China the Czech president will be accompanied by a delegation of Czech business leaders.
The city of Prague will receive help from the government over planned or ongoing infrastructure projects the prime minister said on Monday, saying the government would hold talks with the city leadership after the upcoming municipal elections. Specifically, the prime minister stressed that the government wanted to focus on a railway connection between the city’s Masaryk Station and Prague’s international airport, the completion of Prague’s ring road, and the construction of a new metro line, labelled “D” from Pankrác to Písnice. Prime Minister Sobotka admitted that the ring road project was complex and would only be completed over the course of several years. He made clear that funds could be released for infrastructure such as the rail connection between Václav Havel Airport and the city centre, stressing that a quality connection was in the interest of the state.
After years of delays, the controversial Blanka tunnel, a key part of Prague’s inner ring road, has finally been completed. Originally due to open in 2011, the biggest and most expensive project in the history of Prague was repeatedly delayed. On Tuesday, Prague City Hall announced that the Blanka tunnel is set to go into trial operation on December 2.
The new US ambassador to Prague, Andrew Schapiro, says the Czech Republic should continue to increase its defence spending. After presenting his credentials to Czech President Miloš Zeman at Prague Castle, Mr. Schapiro said the Czechs were increasing their military spending to 1.4 percent of GDP; however, the NATO target is 2 percent and the US would like to see more progress in this direction. The American envoy said he and Mr. Zeman had also discusses the economy and energy, adding that he regarded the latter area as one in which the US could provide help to the Czech Republic.
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