News Telička: Czechs failed to realize potential of EU membership
The Czech Republic gained much through EU membership, but failed to make the best use of the potential it offered, according to former EU commissioner Pavel Telička. In an interview for the ctk news agency in connection with the upcoming 10th anniversary of the country’s accession to the EU on May 1st, Mr. Telička said Czechs had benefitted from the free movement of people, labour and goods, but due to their own negative attitude had thrown away the chance to help mould important concepts and norms that would later apply across the EU. We were viewed as a troublemaker and thus often left out of informal talks, Mr. Telička said. The present centre-left government has vowed to bring the country back to the EU mainstream and take an active part in moulding the future of Europe.
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A Czech plane with over 150 people on board was forced to make an emergency landing at an airport in Lyon on Tuesday night over a suspected fuel leak. The plane, operated by the Czech charter company Travel Service, was on its way from Malaga in Spain to Prague. According to the company’s spokeswoman, the safety of the passengers and crew was not threatened in any way. The company has already dispatched a replacement plane to pick up the stranded passengers.
Czech ice hockey player Jiří Hudler has reportedly signed a one year deal with the Dallas Stars, the hockey new site Today’s Slapshot reported on Wednesday, adding that the deal is worth $2 million. The 32-year-old forward has played almost his entire career exclusively with Detroit and the Pacific Division’s Flames. He finished last season with 10 goals and 35 points in an abbreviated 53-game season with Calgary and 6 goals and 11 points with Florida following the trade deadline.
Some 109 children in the Czech Republic died as a result of injuries in 2015, while 330,000 children had injuries examined by doctors, according to the minister of health, Svatopluk Němeček. In 2010,168 children died from injuries. Traffic accidents were the major cause of death among children and the number of serious injuries on trampolines increased on previous years.
Czech league title-holders Viktoria Plzeň have failed to reach the Champions League, Europe’s top club competition. The West Bohemians drew 2:2 at home with Ludogorets Razgrad on Tuesday night but went out on aggregate after losing the first leg in Bulgaria 2:0 last week. Plzeň played in the lucrative Champions League in 2011 and 2013. This term they will take part in the second-tier Europa League.
Responding to the introduction of airport-style metal detectors at Prague Castle on Tuesday, the honorary head of TOP 09, Karel Schwarzenberg, said that the institution was more closed today than it was under Gustav Husák, the last Communist president of Czechoslovakia. Mr. Schwarzenberg, who was chancellor to President Václav Havel and was defeated in the last presidential election by Miloš Zeman, said he recalled the joy with which Mr. Havel had opened Prague Castle to the public in the 1990s. He made the comments at an event launching the policy programme of TOP 09 ahead of regional and Senate elections later this year.
Voter support for ANO has grown by just over 1 percent to 23.9 percent, suggests an opinion poll conducted in August by the SANEP polling agency. The survey indicated that government leaders the Social Democrats would get 19.1 percent back if an election were held this month, a decline of slightly over 2 percent on the figure for the same poll in July. The Communists came third with 13.4 percent, followed by the Civic Democrats on 11.2 percent and TOP 09 on 6.1 percent.
Airport-style walk-through metal detectors have been installed at Prague Castle. Some weeks after security checks at the popular tourist site were stepped up, two such metal detectors were installed on Tuesday at the entrance to the castle’s First Courtyard from the main square. There is no other way into that part of the complex and queues have grown longer at Prague Castle, Czech Television reported. President Miloš Zeman says he believes his residence is a potential terrorist target. Tour operators say the checks have led to very long lines of visitors.
Following his triumph at the Olympics, Lukáš Krpálek is now the most sought after and popular figure in Czech sport, says Miroslav Černošek, the head of the agency, Česká sportovní, that represents the judo star. Mr. Černošek told the Czech News Agency that Krpálek’s success put him on a par with Roman Šeberle when he became Olympic decathlon champion in 2004 or Petra Kvitová when she won Wimbledon. Krpálek was the only Czech to win gold at the Rio Games and the medal is worth millions of crowns to him, said Mr. Černošek.
President Miloš Zeman will not appear in public again with Martin Konvička, an anti-Muslim campaigner who organised a mock Islamic State invasion in central Prague on Sunday, the president’s spokesperson said on Tuesday. Mr. Zeman shared the stage with the populist politician at a public event on November 17 last year but that situation will never be repeated, spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček told reporters. He also said the president condemned four men kidnapped in Lebanon who were suing the Czech state for compensation; they had “infinite cheek” and should actually reimburse the state for the costs incurred, according to Mr. Zeman.
The Ministry of Finance has put forward a proposal under which customs officials would be able to investigate tax-related crimes, which are currently the domain of the police. In addition, the plan envisages allowing the Customs Administration to examine complaints in more areas of taxation than the present VAT and consumer tax. Customs officials would also get powers to investigate illegal earnings, under the proposal, which was presented on Tuesday by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO. The minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec of the Social Democrats, recently announced the creation of a new financial police unit to focus on tax crime from the start of next year. Mr. Chovanec said there would need to be a detailed debate on expanding the powers of customs officers.