Thursday, January 12, 2012

News 1.12.2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Thursday, January 12th, 2012

By: Sarah Borufka

* Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has threatened that his party
will leave the government if the country does not join the EU's planned
fiscal union, writes the daily Lidove noviny.

* In related news, the foreign ministry has refuted the daily's report,
stating Mr. Schwarzenberg was not in favor of an unconditional Czech
entry into the fiscal pact.

* The Iraqi premier has cancelled an upcoming official visit to the
Czech Republic due to the tense political situation in Iraq.

* The Interior Minister has handed over an investigation of excessive
police bonuses to the General Inspectorate of Security Forces.

* A new library set to open in Paris next year will carry the name of
the late Czech president Vaclav Havel.

TOP 09 ministers to quit if government stays out of planned EU fiscal

The Czech Foreign Minister, and head of the coalition TOP 09 party, has
threatened that ministers for his party will leave the government if it
does not join the EU's planned fiscal union. Mr Schwarzenberg told the
daily Lidove noviny on Thursday he would not be part of a cabinet that
leads the Czech Republic outside the main stream of European
integration. The country cannot afford to be isolated, Mr Schwarzenberg
added. For his part, President Vaclav Klaus wrote a letter to PM Petr
Necas making it clear he would not under any condition sign such a
fiscal treaty into law.

Foreign Ministry refutes report on Schwarzenberg's ultimatum

In related news, the Foreign Ministry on Thursday distanced itself from
the report printed in the daily Lidove noviny. In a statement, the
ministry writes that Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is not in
favor of an unconditional Czech entry into the planned EU fiscal pact.
According to the ministry, Mr. Schwarzenberg does not support a fiscal
union that would strip the Czech Republic of a sovereign state budget
policy. However, the draft currently being debated in Brussels is much
more advantageous for the Czech Republic than a previous one. Whether
the Czechs will join the union depends on the final draft, he said.

President slams TOP 09's threat to leave government

On Thursday, President Vaclav Klaus has harshly criticized Mr.
Schwarzenberg's ultimatum, stating that it is unacceptable for TOP 09
to voice such threats, and that the party had brought the government
coalition under pressure twice within just a few days. The president
said this was no way to do politics and added that he considered it
necessary to let Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg know his opinion.
After the junior coalition partner Public Affairs resisted the approval
of a church property restitution deal earlier this week, TOP 09 backed
the Civic Democrats' Prime Minister Petr Necas, who said that Public
Affairs would be asked to leave the government coalition unless it
supported the deal.

Iraqi premier cancels upcoming visit to Czech Republic

Iraqi premier Nouri al-Maliki has cancelled a planned visit to the
Czech Republic due to the tumultuous political situation in Iraq, a
spokesman for the Czech government confirmed on Thursday. However, an
Iraqi delegation will be making a two-day official visit to the Czech
Republic on January 23. On the agenda will be a possible sale of twenty
Czech military aircrafts of the Aero L 159 ALCA type to Iraq, as well
as Czech-Iraqi cooperation in the areas of energy policy and transport
in Iraq. The two countries have been discussing the sale of the Czech
combat planes for over a year. In 2010, Prime Minister Petr Necas had
travelled to Iraq to lobby for the deal. In the wake of the U.S. troop
withdrawal at the end of 2011, a series of attacks in mostly Shiite
neighborhoods has shaken the country, with many Iraqis fearing a
descent into a wave sectarian violence.

Environment Minister unveils new legislation regulating zoning of
Sumava National Park

Environment Minister Tomas Chalupa on Wednesday unveiled a new draft
law regulating the zoning of the Sumava National Park. According to the
minister, the new legislation required compromises from all sides but
will provide a long-term solution to the ongoing conflict between
environmentalists, the park management and local municipalities over
the zoning of the national park.

Under the final draft of the new law, 26.53 percent of the park will be
declared part of Zone 1, which is for the most part off-limits to
loggers. In addition, 8.49 percent of the park could become a part of
the off-limits zone in the future. The remaining area of the national
park will be divided into Zones 2 and 3, where protection will be less
strict. Environmentalists had demanded that 30 percent of the park be
made a part of Zone 1.

The new draft law would also give the green light for the construction
of a new furnicular that would connect the Sumava National Park to the
Austrian skiing resort Hochficht, to where some 70,000 Czech skiers
travel each year. The cable car connection was one of the main demands
from local municipalities.

Last summer, the debate over the national park escalated after
environmentalists for weeks held blockades to protest the felling of
bark-beetle infested trees in the nature reserve. Police came under
fire for their treatment of activists, which some NGOs slammed as
unnecessarily violent.

Interior Minister hands over investigation of excessive police bonuses
to General Inspectorate of Security Forces

Interior Minister Jan Kubice on Thursday called on the General
Inspectorate of Security Forces (GIBS) to investigate a case of bonuses
that Police President Petr Lessy allegedly paid out to members of the
police last year and that may have exceeded maximum amounts he agreed
on with the minister. According to media reports, Mr. Lessy had handed
out excessive bonus payments to nine high-ranking members of the police
force. Mr. Kubice has told the press that he considers this behavior a
fundamental violation of the orders Mr. Lessy was given.

Mr. Lessy is also currently facing disciplinary proceedings for
comments he made about the former deputy chief of the Zlin regional
police in connection with a case of widespread corruption within the
Brno police's economic crimes unit.

New Paris library to be named after late Czech president Vaclav Havel

A library set to open in Paris's northern Pajol district next year will
be named after the late Czech president Vaclav Havel, the Czech embassy
in Paris writes on its website. The embassy cites the French capital's
mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, who said that he wants to pay respect to one
of the greatest artists, statesmen and fighters for freedom. The new
library should contain some 30,000 volumes. Mr. Delanoe had already
expressed his wish to name either a cultural institution or a street
after Mr. Havel three weeks ago, when he signed a book of condolences
at the Czech embassy in Paris.

In a similar effort, a street in the Polish city of Gdansk was named
after the late Czech president. 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 Ruzyne airport after the late president has received over
80,000 signatures to date.

Nuclear Materials Security Index ranks Czech Republic third in terms of
nuclear safety

The Czech Republic ranks third in the Nuclear Materials Security Index,
which maps nuclear materials security conditions in 32 countries. The
index was published by the American NGO Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)
on Wednesday and aims to spark an international discussion about
priorities required to strengthen nuclear security. Australia is ranked
first in the index; Hungary came in ahead of the Czech Republic in
second place. The Czech Republic was given the best assessment for its
control of nuclear materials, security standards and its nuclear energy
legislation. The worst rankings were given to North Korea, Pakistan and

NTI was founded by American media mogul Ted Turner and former U.S.
Senator Sam Nunn in 2001. Its mission is to strengthen global security
through the reduction of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Advocate accuses judicial expert of overpricing legal assessments

Petr Koci, a lawyer who in a current case has filed an objection
against the well-respected judicial expert Michal Mazel, told press on
Thursday that his principal reason for doing so was the fact that
Mazel's assessments were overpriced. Michal Mazel has announced that he
will be taking legal steps against the advocate, who had previously
also explained his objection by stating that Mr. Mazel was biased due
to his Jewish background.

Many were shocked by the advocate's objection against the judicial
expert, whose testimony was crucial in such cases as the Vitkov arson
attack and the dissolution of the rightwing Workers' Party. Mr. Mazel
has since resigned, stating that he had had enough of being the target
of extremists and that Koci's objection was but the last straw.

Police confiscate 1.6 kilograms crystal methamphetamine in biggest
Czech-German police collaboration in border area

In a joint operation dubbed Speedway, the biggest collaboration in the
Czech-German border area to date, 1.6 kilograms of the drug crystal
methamphetamine with a retail value of 5.8 million Czech crowns was
confiscated, a deputy of the German Finance Minister told the press on
Thursday. In addition, police and customs officers confiscated four
kilograms of marijuana and 6000 items of illegal fireworks. Some 21
German citizens, who had been smuggling the Czech-produced crystal
methamphetamine across the border, were arrested. Police followed some
3300 suspects during the 2-month operation, which started in October of
last year. German police and customs officers said on Thursday that
smuggling of crystal methamphetamine into the country is on the rise
and that similar operations are planned for the future.

Midwifes, expectant mothers to sue Czech Republic at Strasbourg over
home births

A group of expectant mothers and midwives will sue the Czech Republic
at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over home births,
the news website reported on Wednesday. They complain that
home births are not covered by medical insurance and midwives face
administrative obstacles which effectively prevent them from doing
their jobs. A lawyer representing the group said the complaint would be
filed by the end of the month. A spokesman for the Czech health
ministry rejected the claims, and argued that the wellbeing of mothers
and newborns were the primary concern.


The next few days will bring sunny weather with daytime highs between 3
and 7 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Prague celebrates the Art of Hard Rock

Hard Rock Cafe is celebrating its 40th birthday this year with a
travelling exhibition of memorabilia relating to the greats of the
music world who frequented its many outlets the world over. Entitled
The Art of Hard Rock the exhibition, which opens to the Prague public
on January 12th at the Dvorak sec contemporary art gallery in Dlouha
street, is a collection of musical instruments, paintings and drawings
donated by the likes of Jim Morrison, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson,
Frank Zappa, Pete Towshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Paul
Stanley, Ringo Starr, Lou Reed and Billy Idol.

Czech foreign minister says he'll walk out if Czechs do not join EU
fiscal union

No sooner was the government dispute over church restitutions resolved,
the Czech government is racked by a new crisis. The leader of TOP 09,
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has made it clear that unless the
Czech Republic joins the emerging European fiscal union his party would
walk out of the coalition government. This latest ultimatum has brought
to a head a long-simmering dispute in Czech foreign policy.

Czech truck crew drops out of Dakar Rally after accident

The Ales Loprais crew, of the Czech Republic, has retired from the
Dakar Rally after its Tatra Jamal truck got into a severe accident in
the competition's 9th stage. Racer Ales Loprais was hospitalized with a
spinal injury while one of the team's mechanics who was driving at the
time of the accident suffered a concussion.

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