Wednesday, August 31, 2011

News 8.31.2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

By: Daniela Lazarova

* The Czech cabinet has agreed to establish a state secretary for EU

* A legal analysis commissioned by the Czech Foreign Ministry has
advised separating the Czech opt-out from the Lisbon Treaty from
Croatia's admission to the EU in an upcoming vote in the Czech

* A train accident in west Bohemia has brought rail traffic in the
region to a standstill.

* The Education Ministry has announced the planned merging of around
100 secondary schools around the country due to a drop in the number of

* Radio Prague is celebrating its 75th birthday.

Government approves post of state secretary for EU affairs

The Czech cabinet on Wednesday approved a proposal to establish a state
secretary for EU affairs, despite fierce opposition from one of the
coalition parties, TOP 09. Prime Minister Petr Necas, who pushed
through the proposal, said the post was vital in view of the need to
better coordinate the country's position ahead of negotiations in
Brussels. TOP 09 party leader and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg
is fiercely opposed to the move arguing that it would lead to a
confusing division of powers. The position is to be filled by Vojtech
Belling, who heads the government's department for EU affairs.

List of priority areas in need of EU finding

The cabinet on Wednesday also approved a list of priority areas for
which the country would request EU funds in the coming years. They
include raising the competitiveness of the economy, improving the
infrastructure and assisting social integration. The government's
economic council has advised a more cohesive and target oriented policy
in applying for and using EU funds.

Foreign ministry recommends separating Czech Lisbon opt-out from
Croatia's EU accession

A legal analysis commissioned by the Czech Foreign Ministry has advised
separating the Czech opt-out from the Lisbon Treaty from Croatia's
admission to the EU in an upcoming vote in the Czech Parliament.
Although the government originally recommended linking the two issues
in one treaty for practical purposes, the analysis warned that
opposition to the opt-out from the Social Democrats, who have a
majority in the Senate, could complicate Croatia's accession to the EU.
In 2009 President Vaclav Klaus only signed the Lisbon Treaty after the
EU agreed to his demand for a Czech opt-out from the EU's Charter of
Fundamental Rights, which is part of the Lisbon Treaty. The Czech
president feared it could open the way for restitution claims by
Sudeten Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after the war. The treaty
will require a constitutional three fifth majority to get the
legislation passed in both houses, meaning that the government needs to
win support from at least part of the opposition.

Egypt's foreign minister to visit Czech Republic

The Egyptian foreign minister, Muhammad Kamil Amr, is expected to visit
the Czech Republic next Thursday for talks with Czech top officials,
the Czech Foreign Ministry said in a statement for the CTK news agency.
The Egyptian official is expected to meet with Czech Foreign Minister
Karel Schwarzenberg and will be received at Prague Castle by President
Vaclav Klaus. The Czech Republic is expected to offer Egypt assistance
and know-how in its transition to democracy.

Train crash brings rail transport in the west to a standstill

Train traffic in the west of the country came to a standstill on
Wednesday morning after a passenger train ploughed into a freight train
loaded with new passenger cars. No one was injured in the accident
which is being ascribed to human error. Preliminary damage estimates
are at over 4 million crowns. A Czech railways spokesperson said
clean-up work would take up most of the day, with the Prague-Pilsen
connection expected to become operational sometime in the late evening.
The company has secured a replacement bus service for passengers on
this route.

Public Affairs deputy injured in brawl

Public Affairs deputy Michal Babak has made headlines after getting
into a brawl in a bar in the city centre on Tuesday night. According to
the ctk news agency got into a heated argument with the owner of the
bar and lost two front teeth in the ensuing fight. Babak recently had
his party membership suspended after coming under suspicion of having
doctored party finances and accounts. His membership was renewed just
this week.

Secondary schools merging for lack of students

The Education Ministry has announced the planned merging of around 100
secondary schools around the country due to a drop in the number of
students. Although the final decision on the number of schools in
individual regions is in the hands of the local authorities the
Education Ministry has been putting pressure on governors to affect
cost-cutting measures and warned that schools with a small number of
students would get lower support. According to available statistics the
number of secondary students is down by some 23,000 students this year.

Bartak refused bail

Jaroslav Bartak, a prominent Czech doctor who has been accused of
sexually abusing his assistants has been taken into custody. A Prague
court on Wednesday refused his offer of bail on the grounds that he
might try to leave the country or influence witnesses. Bartak has been
charged with sexual coercion, rape, extortion, unlawful restraint and
physical assault. Six women have filed criminal complaints against him.
Co-owner of a medical facility in Prague's Modrany district and former
head of the Prague branch of the Lion's Club charity, Bartak is known
to have close ties to politicians in high office.

Police: Sumava National Park operation cost over one million Czech

According to figures released by police, the cost of a recent operation
in the Sumava National Park exceeded one million Czech crowns. Police
had been stationed in a protected area of the park where environmental
activists were holding a blockade to prevent the logging of bark-beetle
infested trees for about three weeks. They made countless
interventions, often forcibly removing activists who had chained
themselves to trees in the vicinity. The operation, which was
criticized by a number of NGOs for suspected police brutality resulted
in a number of law suits.

Radio Prague turns 75

Radio Prague is celebrating its 75th birthday. The country's foreign
service was established in 1936 at the instigation of the Czechoslovak
Foreign Ministry and first went on air on August 31st of the same year.
Although severe budget cuts led to the termination of the station's
shortwave broadcasts as of this year, Radio Prague is still providing
listeners with daily news, current affairs and reports about the Czech
Republic with its main platform now the Internet. The station
broadcasts daily half-hours on satellite in six languages and offers
podcasting and reception via mobile phone.


The weather should continue warm and sunny with day temperatures
between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Radio Prague marks 75 years on air

Set up in 1936 primarily as a tool to counter propaganda from Nazi
Germany and the Soviet Union, Radio Prague itself long served as a
mouthpiece for communist propaganda. Since the 1990s however, the
station is the only Czech public news service, providing information
about the Czech Republic in six languages to audiences around the
world. Marking Radio Prague's 75th anniversary, the Czech-born,
UK-based writer, and former Radio Prague reporter Benjamin Kuras and
Radio Prague's own David Vaughan discuss the most interesting moments
in the station's history.

Radio Prague to suffer no budget cuts in 2012

Seventy five years ago today, at 10 AM on August 31, 1936, the foreign
service of Czechoslovak Radio went on air for the first time ever.
Today, Radio Prague is an independent broadcaster although it is still
funded entirely by the Czech Foreign Ministry. Following severe budget
cuts in recent years, some good news came on Wednesday from the Foreign
Ministry which promises no further cuts for 2012. Radio Prague spoke to
the head of the ministry's public diplomacy department, Jan Bondy.

Adapting to change: 75 years of Radio Prague broadcasts

In the 75 years of its existence, Radio Prague has seen many changes -
among them, unfortunately, the end of our shortwave broadcasts. On
Wednesday, the station presented some of its programs live from a tent
in the heart of the city, in an effort to propagate the international
service locally. Sarah Borufka was at the site and spoke to Miroslav
Krupicka, who has served as Radio Prague's director since 1998. She
asked him about the important changes he had witnessed over the years.

Radio Prague listeners send well-wishes on Radio Prague's 75th birthday

Of course, Radio Prague would not have turned 75 if it wasn't for our
loyal listeners. We would like to thank you for your support and
interest over the years, and for the many anniversary emails you have
sent in. On the occasion of our 75th anniversary, we did something we
usually don't do - we called some of our listeners from around the
world. Here's one of them, Stan Schmidt. He listens to Radio Prague
from Evansville, Indiana, in the United States.

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