Thursday, February 9, 2012

News 2.9.2012

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

News Thursday, February 9th, 2012

By: Sarah Borufka

* Prime Minister Petr Necas has defended the Czech refusal to join the
EU's fiscal compact in the lower house of Parliament.

* The Social Democrats have called on the prime minister to apologize
for stating that the party would block a Senate vote for direct
presidential elections.

* The Czech Education Minister is set to present 35 new projects aimed
at improving the Czech school system.

* Sparta Prague's deputy manager Lukas Pribyl was found dead in his
office on Thursday.

* The Czech soccer player David Bystron has tested positive for doping.

Prime Minister defends Czech refusal to join EU fiscal compact in lower
house of Parliament

Prime Minister Petr Necas presented his reasons for not signing the
EU's planned fiscal compact in the lower house of Parliament on
Thursday. He said that the government had given him limited authority
to sign the compact. For this reason, he was not able to give a clear
"yes" or "no" at the EU summit in Brussels, where 25 out of 27 EU
member states signed the new treaty, which aims to establish greater
fiscal responsibility across Europe. The prime minister added that
since the final draft of the treaty had been negotiated at the summit,
it would not have been possible to analyze its consequences prior to
signing it. However, he noted that nothing stood in the way of the
Czech Republic being able to sign the fiscal compact at a later stage.
Aside from the Czech Republic, the only EU member to not sign the
treaty was the UK.

The Czech refusal to join the EU's fiscal compact sparked a verbal
crossfire in the government. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg
slammed Mr. Necas's decision, stating that he had damaged the country's

Social Democrats call on prime minister to apologize for statement
regarding direct elections

The Social Democrats have called on Prime Minister Petr Necas to give
them an official apology for his claim that the party, which has a
majority in the Czech Senate, would be trying to block a legislative
change that paves the way for direct presidential elections. The head
of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, announced at a news
conference on Thursday that what the prime minister had said was not
fair towards the party and the country's citizens. The Social Democrats
were long-time supporters of direct presidential elections, he added.

On Wednesday, the Czech Senate had approved an amendment to the
country's constitution introducing direct presidential elections. A
total of 49 out of 81 Senators voted in favor of the new legislation.
Once signed into law by President Vaclav Klaus, the bill will allow
Czechs to elect their president directly for the first time next year
when Mr Klaus's second term expires. Among those who said that they
would consider running for president are Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg, former prime minister Jan Fischer and economist Jan

Education Minister to present 35 new projects to improve school system
in Brussels

Education Minister Josef Dobes will be presenting 35 new projects aimed
at improving the Czech education system in Brussels on Friday. Through
these projects, the ministry could receive up to six billion Czech
crowns, or 240 millon Euros, in EU funds. By presenting new ways of
modernizing the Czech school system, Mr. Dobes is reacting to attacks
from the opposition, which had accused him of badly administering
EU-funded projects and not doing enough to win EU funds for the
country's education system.

The EU had slammed two of the ministry's projects for lacking a clear
budget plan and allocating excessive funds to promotion. Mr. Dobes came
under fire after the European Commission had frozen funding of the two
projects. Both projects and the problems connected to them will be a
topic of discussion in Brussels on Friday.

Czech Republic reclaims Mendel paper from Germany

The Czech Republic has reclaimed a precious document hand-written by
the famed founder of new genetics, Gregor Mendel. Mendel wrote the
document, titled "Experiments on Plant Hybridization" and considered a
seminal work of genetics, at the Augustinian monastery in Brno in 1865.
Thanks to prolonged diplomatic efforts, the Czech Republic was able to
gain the seminal paper back from Germany. Among the parties claiming
rights to the document were Austrian, Czech and German authorities, as
well as the descendants of the Austrian scientist and the monastery in
Brno, where he had worked on the seminal paper. Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg is set to present Mendel's paper to the public on
Thursday afternoon.

The European Court of Human Rights rules in favor of Czech property
restitution plaintiff

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled in favor of the late
Frantisek Oldrich Kinsky, who had filed a complaint regarding disputes
with the Czech state over the restitution of family property. According
to the verdict, Mr. Kinsky had not been given a fair trial in the
matter. The European Court ruled that the Czech Republic is to pay the
man, who was a member of one of the oldest Bohemian aristocratic
families, a sum of 10,000 Euro in damages and an additional 3380 Euro
to cover his expenses connected to the case. The Czech Republic has
three months to appeal the decision.

Mr. Kinsky, who died in April 2009, had filed at least 157 restitution
claims with an alleged value of 40 billion Czech crowns with Czech
courts. The property had been taken from Mr. Kinsky's family in the
wake of World War II on the basis of the Benes decrees due to the
family's alleged collaboration with the Nazis.

Police: Technical school in Most breeding ground for right-wing

According to the head of the Most police, the town's secondary
technical school has become a breeding ground for right-wing
extremists. The police chief from the town in the Usti nad Labem region
expressed concern over the fact that between ten and fifteen of the
school's students regularly participated in events organized by
right-wing groups. The school's management has admitted that there are
problems with some students. Last year, a mass fight between ethnic
Czechs and Romanies had occurred near the school, where some 1200
students are enrolled.

Poll: President Vaclav Klaus's public approval declines

A fresh survey by the Public Opinion Research Center finds that current
President Vaclav Klaus has been loosing public approval. According to
the poll, only 58 percent believe that the Czech president does a good
job representing the country abroad, a drop of nearly 20 percentage
points as compared to last year's result. In addition, 70 percent of
respondents believe that he lends dignity and seriousness to the post,
a drop of ten percent as compared to 2011's survey. Only 45 of those
polled said that they appreciate Mr. Klaus's influence on national

Deputy Sparta manager Lukas Pribyl found dead in his office

Sparta Prague's deputy manager Lukas Pribyl was found dead in the
football club's stadium on Thursday, the daily Pravo writes on its
website. According to the daily, police found the body of the
33-year-old man in his office on Thursday afternoon. He had a scalp
laceration and bruises on his neck. Third-party violence cannot be
ruled out, police said. Criminal investigators are currently at the
scene of the incident. An autopsy will most likely reveal further
details regarding the cause of his death, investigators said.

Czech soccer player David Bystron, tests positive for doping

Soccer player David Bystron, who currently plays defense for FC
Viktoria Plzen, has tested positive for doping and has been banned from
playing for two years. The disciplinary committee of UEFA, the European
football association, announced its decision to disqualify him from
playing on Thursday. The 30-year-old soccer player had been tested at a
November Champion's League match; the blood sample was analyzed in
January. Allegedly, traces of methamphetamine were found in his blood.

Moravia plagued by smog

The north-eastern parts of the Czech Republic on Thursday morning
reported worsening air pollution problems. The most affected areas
include the regions of Ostrava, Olomouc and Brno, where pollution
limits have been exceeded. Meteorologists have declared smog alerts in
the areas of Trinec, Ostrava and Karvina, calling on the largest
industrial polluters to scale-down production. Elderly and sick people
as well as children are advised to limit their time outdoors.

Record temperature low forecast for Saturday night

Night temperatures in the Czech Republic's mountainous areas are
expected to drop below -40 degrees Celsius in the night from Saturday
to Sunday. Meteorologists said that temperatures could even drop below
the country's lowest recorded temperature of -42.2 degrees. Frosts are
also expected to hit in lower altitudes, with temperatures of up to -25
degrees forecast for Prague on the weekend. Harsh weather conditions
hit the country last week; next Monday, temperatures are expected to
rise above zero again.


Harsh weather conditions with frost and arctic temperatures are set to
continue, with daytime highs ranging between -8 and -4 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Czechs and the Internet

Computers and the internet have become an integral part of our lives to
such an extent that it is hard to imagine how we ever managed without
them. However a recent survey conducted by the Czech Statistical Office
shows that Czechs are still lagging behind many EU states when it comes
to computer literacy and internet access.

Czech Parliament passes direct presidential elections

Czech citizens themselves will choose their next president in 2013 for
the first time in history. After years of public and partisan
discussion, and five final hours of heated debate on Wednesday, the
Czech Senate passed a Constitutional amendment allowing direct election
of the head of state by the people. As the current president, Vaclav
Klaus, who called direct elections a "fatal mistake", is unable to veto
a constitutional amendment, I asked political scientist Jan Outly of
the University of Hradec Kralove if anything at all can stop direct
presidential elections now.

Czech lighting producer Preciosa aims to expand on US, Russian markets

A leading Czech producer of lighting products, Preciosa Lighting, aims
to expand its position in the United States. The firm with a
centuries-old glass making tradition has now opened a permanent
showroom in Dallas, Texas, a must for everyone who's anyone in the
industry, says Preciosa Lighting's sales director Petra Machackova.
Radio Prague talked to Ms Machackova about her company's plans.

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