News Iraq pushing to speed up purchase of L-159 fighter jets
The Iraqi government has intensified talks on the purchase of Czech-made Aero Vodochody L-159 trainer fighter jets, the ctk news agency reports. The head of the Aero company Ladislav Šimek told the ctk that after years of negotiations Iraq was pushing to acquire an unspecified number of trainer jets as soon as possible. The Iraqi military is reportedly to acquire the first batch of F-16 fighter jets from the US military in September and lacks trainer jets for its pilots. The Czech army, which acquired 72 of these planes 15 years ago, has 36 surplus aircraft which it has been trying to sell for some time. The Czech military is also close to signing a contract with the US firm Draken International.
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The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka has stressed the need for interreligious dialogue as a means of diffusing the tension in Europe in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. Speaking on a visit to Belgium, the cardinal said dialogue was the way to greater understanding and tolerance but noted that at a time of heightened emotions attempts at such dialogue often failed. He said that some of the public exchanges he had heard at home showed a basic lack of understanding of both Christianity and Islam.
The Czech Helsinki Committee has called for better conditions in Czech prisons. The committee has given MPs in the lower house a list of problem areas which it says should be given consideration in the process of drafting amendments in the law on prison service. Among the improvements suggested are the right to a shower daily, better quality food and a radio in every cell.
Anti-nuclear organizations in Upper Austria have jointly filed a complaint against Czech plans for the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant by another two reactors, the APA news agency reports. The news was confirmed by Upper Austrian Environment Minister Rudi Anschober who said that all possible steps would be taken to prevent the project. Anti-nuclear organizations on the Czech side –South Bohemian Mothers Against Temelín, the Civic Initiative for Environmental Protection and Calla – have also filed a complaint against the State Institute for Nuclear Safety for approving the expansion plans. For the present time the project has been put on hold for financial reasons.
The Food Inspection Office has issued a health warning about a sesame paste sold on the Czech market which was found to contain salmonella bacteria. The product, sold under the name Alnatura Tahin Bio Sesammus, sells in the Globus supermarket chain.
Petr Václav's social drama "The Way Out" (Cesta ven) won the fifth annual Czech Film Critics’ Awards on Saturday night, picking up prizes for Best Film, Best Direction and Best Screenplay. Klaudia Dudová, who is not professionally trained, won the award for Best Actress for her portrayal of a young Roma woman seeking security and a better life. The award for Best Documentary went to director Martin Dušek and producer Kamila Zlatušková for their story about people who customize cars, "Into the Clouds We Gaze" (K oblakům vzhlížíme). The award for Discovery of the Year was given to Jiří Mádl for his directorial debut "To See the Sea" (Pojedeme k moři).
Meteorologists have issued a snow warning for Moravia and Silesia. Heavy snowfall is expected overnight with up to 20 centimetres of fresh snow in places. Drivers have been warned to expect snowdrifts and the fact that less frequented roads may be impassable. Night time temperatures should fall to minus 6 degrees C and day temperatures are expected to remain below freezing point.
The newly elected head of the Green Party Jana Drápalová has said she wants to unite the party and lead it to success in next year’s regional elections. Ms. Drápalová, who is mayor of the Nový Lískovec district in Brno, said the party must convince people that Green solutions are beneficial and would improve the quality of life for them and their children. Her chief rival for the post Petr Štepanek was elected deputy chairman. At its weekend conference the Green Party also voted to change its statutes to open the way for dual party leadership as of next year.
The Green Party elected Jana Drápalova party leader at a two-day conference in Brno over the weekend.Ms.Drapalova was elected by 115 out of 198 votes. The party has been without a proper leader since Ondřej Liška resigned as its head in June of last year following the Greens poor showing in elections to the European Parliament, where they won a mere 3.7 percent of the votes. The Green Party participated in the centre-right coalition government between 2007 and 2009, but their influence on Czech politics has been marginal since and they failed to win a single seat in the lower house in the last general election.
Prague mayor moves to dispel concern over possible reintroduction of paper coupons in city transport
Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová has moved to dispel public concern with regard to the possible re-introduction of paper coupons in the city’s public transport. The mayor said that all present holders of Opencard could rest assured that nothing would change for them and that if Prague City Hall were to re-introduce paper coupons for a certain period, as a last resort, it would only be for new clients. City Hall only has licensing rights to issue another 60,000 Opencards after which it would be forced to resort to paper coupons. According to Prague City Hall the 60,000 Opencards should last until mid-summer by which time the leadership hopes to have found a solution to the drawn-out dispute over rights with the company eMoneyServices.
Over 500 foreign guests, including 30 heads of parliament, diplomats and cultural figures are expected to take part in next week’s commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz at the end of World War II. The events include an international forum on anti-Semitism and extremism to be held at Prague Castle on Monday and a tribute to Holocaust victims in Terezin, north Bohemia on Tuesday. Extensive security measures involving hundreds of police will be in place at both venues.