Thursday, April 19, 2012

News 4.19.2012

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

News Thursday, April 19th, 2012

By: Jan Richter

* The Czech, Slovak, Polish and Hungarian foreign ministers have
criticized Switzerland for its decision to introduce immigration quotas.

* The leader of the embattled coalition Public Affairs party says his
group wants to avoid early election.

* A court in Prague has ruled to reopen the case of businessman Tomas
Pitr who was in 2006 sentenced to five years in jail for tax fraud.

* The head of the Czech Academy of Sciences has asked the government to
change its methods of evaluating scientific work.

* Prague has toned down its campaign to attract British "Olympic
avoiders" to the Czech capital.

V4 foreign ministers criticize Swiss immigration quotas

The foreign ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and
Hungary on Thursday criticized Switzerland for its decision to
introduce immigration quotas for eight EU member countries of central
and Eastern Europe. The joint statement, adopted on the sidelines of a
NATO officials' summit in Brussels, was reportedly initiated by Czech
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. The foreign ministers of the four
countries said they hoped that Switzerland would reconsider the move.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU but is part of the bloc's
Schengen zone of free movement, will cap immigration from eight central
and Eastern European countries beginning May 1; the country will
annually grant some 2,000 residency permits to Czechs, Slovaks, Poles
and citizens of other six post-communist countries.

Schwarzenberg to meet with Secretary Clinton regarding Temelin

Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will be meeting with his American
counterpart Hillary Clinton at a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
The two officials are set to discuss the completion of the Temelin
nuclear power plant; the US company Westinghouse is one of the bidders
in the multi-billon crown tender. On Wednesday, Defence Minister
Alexandr Vondra met with his US counterpart Leon Panetta and signed an
agreement giving Czech weapons manufacturers access to US Army tenders.

Public Affairs want to avoid early elections

The leader of the embattled coalition Public Affairs party, Radek John,
said on Thursday his party wanted to avoid early elections. The junior
coalition party split earlier this week after deputy prime minister
Karolina Peake quit Public Affairs along with several MPs and said they
would support the government; the rest of the party is now considering
joining the opposition in the lower house. However, Mr John gave no
direct answer when asked whether the rest of the party would also
support the government in a possible vote of no-confidence.

Prime Minister Petr Necas said he would wait until Monday to see
whether his government could rely on a "safe majority" in the lower
house. If not, Mr Necas, said, the country would head towards a snap
election that could take place in June.

Press: Czech military involved in UN observer mission in Syria

The Czech military is involved in the UN observer mission in Syria,
Czech Radio said on Thursday quoting Lebanese press reports. The Czech
Air Force reportedly provided three transport planes which brought nine
vehicles to Beirut that are used by the observers in Syria. The UN
observer team entered Syria on Monday where it is monitoring a
ceasefire between the government and rebel forces in an attempt to end
violence in the country.

Court rules to reopen Tomas Pitr case

A Prague court of appeals on Thursday ruled to reopen the case of
businessman Tomas Pitr, cancelling a 2006 verdict which sentenced him
to five years in prison for tax fraud. Mr Pitr fled the country after
the verdict, and was extradited from Switzerland earlier this month.
Tomas Pitr faces charges of tax evasion worth 51 million crowns which
he allegedly committed in 1994. The court ruled he should remain in
custody pending a new trial.

Academy of Sciences head calls for change in evaluation methods

The head of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Jiri Drahos has asked the
government to change its methods of evaluation of scientific work.
Speaking at an academic forum in Prague on Thursday, Mr Drahos said the
methods, which were introduced in 2009, served to justify a
"deliberate, wilful and irresponsible" attempt to eliminate large
sections of the Academy of Sciences. The methods serve as a basis for
the distribution of government grants. Mr Drahos also criticized
efforts to turn academic institutions and universities into "servants"
of the private sector.

Prague tones down campaign to attract "Olympic avoiders"

Prague City Hall has toned down its campaign to attract British
"Olympic avoiders" to the Czech capital during the London Summer
Olympics, the Czech daily Hospodarske noviny reported on Thursday. The
campaign presents Prague as a destination where Londoners can take part
in the "Prague games" events such as panoramathon, heavy-weight
shopping, kafkarate, free-style kissing and others. However, Prague
City Hall decided to drop two motifs - synchronized drinking and
morning slalom, alluding to drinking and partying - over the UK's ban
of associating alcohol with sports in advertising.

Press: number of self-employment licences up

The number of self-employment licences reached nearly two million by
the end of March, up by over 40,000 compared to the same month last
year, the news website reported quoting data from the Labour
and Social Affairs Ministry. In 2012, some 11,500 new licences were
issued by the authorities. Analyst stay the steady rise in the number
of the self-employed is caused by lower tax rates compared to those of
employees; also, many Czechs take out self-employment licences as a
security provision in case they their jobs but are unlikely to actually
start a business.

Elderly couple commits suicide to avoid home foreclosure

An elderly couple in the village of Zbyny, some 60 kilometres north of
Prague, committed suicide to avoid losing their home, the news website reported on Thursday. Fire fighters who arrived in the early
hours of Wednesday to put out the fire discovered the bodies of a
71-year-old woman and her 68-year-old husband along with a dead dog and
several gasoline cans; a spokeswoman for the local police said they
probably ended their lives to avoid the foreclosure of their home over
the debts of their son.

Tennis: Tomas Berdych reaches Monte Carlo quarterfinals

Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych beat Japan's Kei Nishikori 2:6, 6:2,
6:4 in the third round of the Monte-Carlo Masters event on Thursday,
and advanced to the tournament's quaterfinals. Berdych, ranked seventh
in the world, dropped two serves to lose the first set but hit back and
wrapped up the game in two hours. In the next stage, the 26-year-old
Czech will face world number four Andy Murray of the UK.


The end of the week will be mostly overcast, with rain showers in
places and daytime highs of around 16 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Young musicians light up Prague's subway

It was another cold, grey morning for the thousands of commuters who
passed through the city's crowded metro stations making their way to
work on Wednesday morning. But on this particular day the mood in
Prague's busy subway was different. An all-day musical happening put a
smile on people's faces and many stopped to listen, even if it meant
missing their regular train connection.
Prague conference explores role of culture in diplomacy

This Thursday saw the hosting of a Culture Plus event at Prague's
Cernin Palace, co-organised by the Czech Foreign Ministry. On the table
was the topic Culture & Diplomacy - namely how culture, including the
arts, can be used to promote greater communication and understanding.
Kupka's Shape of Blue sets new Czech art auction record

On Wednesday night, The Shape of Blue, a painting by abstract artist
Frantisek Kupka, sold for 55.75 million crowns at auction - setting a
new Czech art auction record. The impressive final sum came as a
surprise even to the director of Adolf Loos Aprtment & Gallery, which
organized the auction. What significance does this latest record have
for the domestic art market, and what makes this work of Kupka's
special? We spoke to Jan Skrivanek, the editor-in-chief of art +

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