Thursday, March 14, 2013

News 3.14.2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Thursday, March 14th, 2013

By: Daniela Lazarova

* Army general Vlastimil Picek is to be appointed defense minister.

* Czech politicians and church dignitaries have welcomed the election
of Pope Francis.

* The Senate has questioned the prime minister's role in the
controversial amnesty declared by former president Vaclav Klaus.

* Two Czech women are reported to have been kidnapped in the
Balochistan province of Pakistan, close to the Iranian border.

* Britain's Prince Eduard and his wife Sophie leave Prague on Thursday
evening at the end of an event-packed two-day visit.

Vlastimil Picek to be new defense minister

Army general Vlastimil Picek is to be the country's new defense
minister, according to government sources cited by the CTK news agency.
The former army chief of staff, who currently serves as deputy defense
minister, is a widely respected expert in the field though his
appointment to the post is vehemently opposed by the smallest party in
government LIDEM which wanted a civilian to lead the Czech Defense
Ministry. Prime Minister Petr Necas who has in vain sought a suitable
civilian candidate for the post since it was vacated last Christmas,
has strongly advocated the general's appointment and has reportedly won
over the TOP 09 party for the idea. TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg
said earlier this week a decision needed to be made fast since the
present situation was unsustainable. The coalition had come under fire
both from the military and from opposition benches for procrastinating
in filling a crucial government post.

Czech political leaders congratulate new Pope

Politicians and church dignitaries have welcomed the election of Jorge
Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as Pope. President Milos
Zeman sent the Pontiff a letter of congratulations and extended an
official invitation for him to attend the 2013 celebrations marking the
1150th anniversary of the arrival of the Christian missionaries SS
Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia. Prime Minister Petr Necas said he
had received the news of Pope Francis' election with genuine pleasure
and wished him sound health and strength in facing the challenges ahead.

Church dignitaries praise result of conclave

Cardinal Dominik Duka said the choice of a pope from Latin America was
a natural and right development in view of the prevalence of
non-European Catholics in the world and the existing disproportion in
their representation in the Church leadership. The Archbishop of
Olomouc Jan Graubner suggested the election of the first non-European
pope indicated a shift in the Roman Catholic Church to more openness
and awareness of "what is important on a global scale". Cardinal
Miloslav Vlk pointed out that the name Archbishop Bergoglio had chosen
- evoking both St. Francis of Assisi and Francis Xavier - reflected his
humble character. Church bells rang out around the Czech Republic on
Wednesday evening in celebration of the new Pope.

Senate questions PM's role in controversial amnesty

Senate Chairman Milan Stech has asked Supreme State Attorney Pavel
Zeman to check if the prime minister did not break the law by
counter-signing the controversial amnesty declared by the former
president Vaclav Klaus without consulting the entire cabinet. The
controversial amnesty led the Senate to file charges of treason against
the former president at the Constitutional Court on the grounds that he
had overstepped his mandate. The Senate chair points out that according
to the Czech Constitution it is the government which is ultimately
responsible for the declared amnesty and the prime minister may be
guilty of abuse of office for co-signing the document without question.

Two Czech women kidnapped in western Pakistan

Two Czech women are reported to have been kidnapped in the Balochistan
province of Pakistan, close to the Iranian border. The Czech Foreign
Ministry said the two tourists - believed to be in their mid-twenties -
were kidnapped on Wednesday evening after a van they were travelling in
was stopped by unknown assailants. The group took them out of the van
together with their guard, who was later released. No one has claimed
responsibility for the kidnapping or made any demand for ransom. There
is speculation they could have been abducted to Afghanistan. The
ministry has not revealed the identity of the hostages. A French man
was abducted in the same place two years ago and was released a month

British royals visit Jedlickuv Institute

The visiting British royals, Prince Edward and his wife Sophie on
Thursday visited Prague's Jedlickuv Institute for children with
physical disabilities established in 1913. They were giveuv a tour of
the complex, stopped to chat with the children and planted a fir tree
in honour of the 100-year anniversary of the institute. Prince Edward
later attended an event at the Prague British School and Countess
Sophie visited the British Council to see a short performance inspired
by Shakespeare's plays and presented by students. The British royal
couple is due to fly back to London on Thursday evening. Their packed
two-day agenda included a reception at Prague Castle, a tour of the
city's prominent historic sites and a visit to the Sue-Ryder home for
the elderly.

Two Prague restaurants hold onto their Michelin stars

Two Prague restaurants - the Alcron and Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise
-have held onto the Michelin stars they were first awarded last year.
Both restaurants are run by Czech chefs. Alcron has been run by Roman
Paulus since 2008 and La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise by Oldrich
Sahajdak since 2006. Several other restaurants were awarded in the Bib
Gourmand category: SaSaZu, Le Terroir, Aromi, Divinis and Sansho.

Czech retail sales down by 0.5 percent in January

Czech retail sales, both adjusted and non-adjusted for working days,
fell by 0.5 percent year-on-year in January, compared with a drop of
4.9 percent in the previous month, the Czech Statistical Office said on
Thursday. The result was affected mainly by lower sales in the
automotive segment, while a growth in the retail trade segment
moderated the fall. Adjusted for seasonal influences, sales in retail
trade, including sale and repair of motor vehicles, increased by 0.4
percent at constant prices month-on-month in January.

Mynar appointed Chancellor of the Office of the President

President Milos Zeman on Thursday appointed Vratislav Mynar, head of
the Party of Citizens�� Rights of Milos Zeman(SPOZ), his chancellor. The
new head of state has gone out of his way to rule out any favouritism
for the political party set up by his supporters of which he is still
honorary chairman. The two men, who cooperated closely in the past,
have already had their first public tiff over the matter. As SPOZ
leader, Mynar considered using his new post to promote the party ahead
of the mid-2014 general elections. The president made it clear the post
of Chancellor of the Office of the President would not be used to
promote any political party and said that if Mynar accepted his offer
he would expect him to resign as party leader.

President thanks his bodyguards for job well done

President Milos Zeman on Thursday publicly thanked two of his
bodyguards for capturing a pair of thieves in the vicinity of his
Prague flat earlier this week. President Zeman thanked them for their
good work, presented them with symbolic gifts and invited them to
sample his favourite Moravian wine.


The coming days should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures
between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Czechs and Slovaks: long divorced but still close

Twenty years after their Velvet Divorce the Czech Republic and Slovakia
maintain exceptionally close ties. The two countries' presidents have
made a tradition of planning their first trip abroad to the former
sister state and the two countries' governments hold a joint session
every year to discuss matters of common interest. In the eyes of
Czechs, Slovaks are the most favored foreign minority in the country.
But do the close to 100,000 Slovaks living and working in the Czech
Republic feel at home here? To find out I met up with Martina
Gregorova, a young Slovak who now calls this country her home. I began
by asking her how it all came about.

Catholic leaders welcome the new Pope

After a day of deliberations the Papal Conclave at the Vatican made an
unexpected but highly welcomed choice for the new leader of the
Catholic Church. Pope Francis I from Argentina was warmly received by
the faithful all over the world on Wednesday evening.

Czech and Slovak FAs propose joint league - but would it work?

Two decades after the split of Czechoslovakia, the Czech and Slovak
football associations have just announced a plan to set up a joint
league. If the idea - which has been mooted before - gets the backing
of top flight clubs in both states, a working group will be set up to
begin preparing for a move that would reignite old rivalries from the
days of the federal republic. But what is the thinking behind the plan?
And how likely are we to actually see a Czech-Slovak league in the

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