News Czech PM meets with Austrian chancellor
Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann arrived in Prague on Thursday for talks with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. On the agenda was the discussion of plans to improve cross-border transport infrastructure including the modernization of railway connections between Vienna and Prague. Also on the agenda were candidacies for the European Commission as both the Czech Republic and Austria are hoping to clinch the post of commissioner for regional policy. On Thursday, Prime Minister Sobotka and his Austrian counterpart agreed to meet in the future on a regular basis, also incuding Slovakia's prime minister; the next meeting is expected to take place next spring.
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People in fifty Czech towns and cities can take part in a series of events entitled Days of Architecture which focus on city planning and interesting architectural buildings in the given locality. The Days of Architecture, organized by the civic association Kruh, aim to raise public awareness of decisions impacting people’s surroundings, insensitive reconstructions, co-existence of historic and modern architectural styles, public spaces and the revitalization of communist-era housing estates. The program includes lectures, forums, film screenings, and excursions in search of architecture and interesting exhibitions that are dedicated to new trends in architecture.
The Food Inspection Office says that over a third of Czech restaurants, delis and eateries are not complying with the law on allergy labelling which went into force in December of last year. The office says 37 percent of restaurants and eating places inspected either failed to provide the respective information on their menus or only gave it on request. According to the legislation food businesses are bound to provide information relating to 14 of the most common allergens, including eggs, milk, fish, molluscs and peanuts. While the information is now available on pre-packaged foods, restaurant and deli owners have not yet fully complied with the norm, arguing that it is obtrusive and confuses their diners who are generally not interested in the ingredients of their dishes.
Petr Dongres, the former head of President Zeman’s security team, has been appointed deputy head of the special operations force responsible for protecting public officials and visiting foreign dignitaries, the ctk news agency reports. Dongres asked to be released from his post in the president’s service after a breach of security last month in which activists, posing as chimneysweeps, managed to climb onto the roof and hung a pair of red underpants in place of the presidential standard. He had served as head of security at Prague Castle since 2012 when his predecessor Jiri Sklenka resigned after a man in the street shot several pellets at then president Klaus from an airsoft plastic gun.
The power utility ČEZ has applied for a new ten-year license for the operation of the first unit of the Dukovany nuclear power plant. The current license is due to expire at the end of this year. The first unit was taken out of operation at the end of August for safety tests and maintenance. In requesting a new license ČEZ will be required to prove to the State Nuclear Safety Authority that Dukovany fully complies with all internationals safety requirements. The plant’s first unit was put into operation in 1985. The four-reactor plant was originally projected with a 30-year life span but the power utility wants to significantly extend it through modernization. ČEZ has to gain new licences for the remaining three units in 2016 and 2017. The Dukovany nuclear power plant covers one fifth of domestic electricity consumption.
Police officers around the country are working overtime in order to fulfill their duties and meet the additional requirements stemming from the migrant crisis, police chiefs from different regions have confirmed. South Bohemian police chief Milan Bajcura said that in exceptional circumstances such as the migrant crisis police officers could be ordered to serve an extra 150 hours a year without financial compensation. He said his men were not only working overtime but spent more hours on standby in the event of an emergency call. However he assured the public that the police was not neglecting its regular duties as a result of its involvement in the migrant crisis. The Interior Ministry is to get more money next year to deal with the crisis.
Prague City Hall is making plans for the resettlement of up to 200 asylum seekers, the internet news site idnes.cz reported on Saturday. The news site says that while the Prague authorities have issued no official statement, work is underway on finding accommodation, employment and schools for refugees who request asylum in the country. Although few refugees have so far requested asylum in the Czech Republic the Czech Republic is expected to take in over 3,000 migrants within the EU mandatory redistribution of refugees around Europe. The first 500 are expected to arrive before the end of the year.
The ombudsmen of the Višegrad Group have signed a joint declaration concerning refugees and their human rights. At the conclusion of their annual meeting in Višegrad, Hungary, on Friday the ombudsmen of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia declared that it is the moral and legal obligation of European member states to take responsibility for refugees. The signatories declared that they will seek to ensure that authorities in their countries treat every migrant and refugee in a humane and non-humiliating manner by observing laws, EU directives and international and European agreements. The two-day meeting was attended by the Czech Republic’s Anna Šabatová, Hungary’s Laszlo Szekely, Poland’s Stanislaw Trociuk and Slovakia’s Jana Dubovcová.
An unusual temporary monument to German poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe was unveiled in Prague on Friday, consisting of a historical plinth that contemporary Czech artist Jiri David complemented with a wheelbarrow loaded with debris including various objects such as books written by Goethe. Apart from the books, the objects in the wheelbarrow include fragments of a painter´s canvas, cigarette butts, a payment card, a newspaper and fragments of a computer. The monument to Goethe was unveiled in front of the Goethe Institute building to mark the 25th anniversary of the institute´s Prague branch.
The legendary Czech actor Lubomír Lipský has died at the age of 92. The actor who appeared in hundreds of film and theatre performances died in hospital after a bout of pneumonia. Lipský co-founded the Prague Theatre of Satire and since 1996 was a member of the Divadlo ABC theatre house. In film he excelled as a comic actor. In 2005 he received the prestigious Thalia Award for lifelong contribution to theatre, in 2008 the František Filipovský Prize for dubbing and in 2013 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and a received a Medal of Merit from President Miloš Zeman.
More than 70 MEPs, members of national parliaments and activists from 22 European countries have signed an appeal for the removal of a pig farm in Lety, south Bohemia, built on the site of a former Romany internment camp, the civic association Konexe said on Friday. The signatories include former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, Italian Literature Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo and former Spanish foreign minister Miguel Angel Moratinos. According to the petition, the pitiful state of the locality reflects the persecution and discrimination that Romanies still face in Europe today. Several Czech governments pledged to remove the pig farm from Lety but failed to find money for a buyout. Some 1,300 Czech Romanies passed through the camp between 1940 and 1943; round 330 of them died there, while another 500 were deported to the Auschwitz extermination camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.