The European Union and NATO should send a strong message to Russia by extending military operations into areas of Ukraine and possibly Moldavia, Czech President Miloš Zeman said Friday, reiterating a view he shared a day earlier with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Prague. The president’s stance differs from that of the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, who stated it was not the time for "beating the war drum"; he indicated that he favoured diplomacy over threats. According to President Zeman, Russia needed to be sent a strong message to dissuade the country from considering any further annexation of regions in Ukraine after it took control of Crimea.
Around 600 soldiers, from the Czech Republic and 10 other NATO allies including Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, and the US, will take part in international military training in the Czech Republic in September. Ample Strike 2014 is similar to previous operations such as Flying Rhino or Ramstein Rover, but for the first time Ample Strike will be held under the auspices of the Czech Army. The military training operation will begin on September 3 and last until the 15.
A 93 year old war veteran and journalist, Bedřich Utiz, has been named this year’s winner of the Arnošt Lustig prize. The prize was created following the death of the famous Czech writer in 2011 to recognize those who displayed courage, integrity, and strived for the public good. Utiz escaped the Nazi occupation to Palestine and later joined the Czechoslovak army in exile, fighting in the Western desert and Normandy. After the war he worked for the Czechoslovak News Agency and Czechoslovak Radio. He was posted to West Germany ahead of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 and decided not to return home. Instead, he helped found the publishing house in exile, Index, which functioned until the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
The Finance Ministry in a new forecast improved its estimate of GDP expansion for 2014 to 1.7 percent from January’s 1.4 percent, while the estimate for 2015 stayed that same at 2 percent, the ministry said in a press release on Friday. Domestic demand should make up two-thirds and foreign trade one-third of the estimated figure, the ministry said. Inflation is expected to remain low despite the crown´s weakening caused by the Czech National Bank´s forex interventions last November. The ministry puts the inflation rate at 1 percent this year, the same rate as in the previous forecast.
The chairman of the European Parliament has said that Brussels institutions should consider transferring more powers and responsibilities to national states and regions. Martin Schulz was speaking at the start of a three day visit to the Czech Republic and on Friday opened a conference marking the upcoming 10th anniversary of Czech membership of the EU. Europe was a work in progress and had deficits in the areas of democracy and fairness, Schulz said in his speech. The anniversary of EU accession takes place on May 1.
The Minister of Agriculture, Marian Jurečka, has confirmed the dismissal of the director of the country’s National Agricultural Museum. He said the sacking follows the case of a man on the run from prison who applied, using a false name, and was appointed as the museum’s chief economist. In the post, he channeled around 10 million crowns from the museum’s account. Eva Balaštiková had been appointed as director by a previous Civic Democrat minister, Petr Bendl.
Genetic testing has confirmed that a foreign man found in Norway suffering from memory loss and speaking five languages is a Czech citizen, a spokeswoman for the Czech police presidium revealed Friday. Earlier, the 36-year-old, who was found in a snowdrift in Oslo last December, was recognised by members of his own family. There were indications that his hands had been bound and he told the AFP news agency that he been robbed and sexually assaulted. Czech police have informed their Norwegian counterparts, who are investigating, about the test results.
A new poll conducted by the CVVM agency suggests that half of Czechs think there are “too many” foreigners in the country. A tenth of those polled said foreigners should not be allowed long-term residency at all; four out of five said long term residency was acceptable but only under certain circumstances. Two-fifths of Czechs said the number of foreigners living in the Czech Republic was reasonable. Ninety-six percent stated education was the most acceptable reason for foreigners being in the country.
In ice hockey, Czech club Lev Praha has won its way through to the finals of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) after a narrow win on Thursday night. Lev beat Lokomotiv Jaroslavl 3:2 on the night to take the series 4:1. Lev Praha becomes the first non-Russian team to get through to the finals. The team’s opponents in the final could become clear Friday with the game between Magnitogorsk and Yulaev.
In football, Czech national goalkeeper Petr Čech will face the current Spanish league leaders in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Čech’s club Chelsea was drawn on Friday against Atletico Madrid, who beat Barcelona in the previous round. It’s not clear yet whether Atletico’s goalkeeper Thibault Courtois will play in the encounter as he is on loan from the London club. Courtois is tipped as Čech’s successor as first choice Chelsea ‘keeper. In the other draw, Real Madrid will play current Champions’ League title holder Bayern Munich.
My Prague – Rob Cameron
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