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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The number of recorded crimes in the Czech Republic fell by 12 percent year-on-year in 2016, according to figures released by the police on Tuesday. Deputy police president Jaroslav Vild said crime had fallen in all regions of the country, including Prague, last year. Some 53 percent of the roughly 220,000 crimes registered last year were solved, Mr. Vild said. The number of murders was at a 25-year low.
Last year the Czech Republic received some CZK 79.6 billion more from the European Union than it paid into the coffers of the 27-member bloc, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Czech Ministry of Finance. It was the third highest net gain for the Czech Republic since it joined the EU in 2004. The country has obtained more from the bloc than it has paid in for each of the last 12 years.
Prague’s National Museum will be fully reopened following a major renovation job by the middle of 2020. Work on the institution’s main building will stop in October next year for a large exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, National Museum director Michal Lukeš said on Tuesday. He made the comment after showing Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Culture Minister Daniel Herman around the main building, which at present resembles a construction site. He also said a tunnel was being built from the historical building to the nearby former Federal Assembly, which is also part of the National Museum.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected a nominee put forward by President Miloš Zeman for a commission examining who should be recognised as a member of the anti-Communist resistance during the previous regime. Mr. Sobotka said Mr. Zeman’s candidate Karel Srp had done a lot for independent culture under communism. However, he said, public information showed that Mr. Srp repeatedly informed to the StB secret police. Though a court ruled in 2000 that his name had wrongfully been listed in StB records, former members of the pre-1989 underground say he did indeed inform on them to the secret police.
It should be cloudy in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with temperatures reaching up to -2 degrees Celsius. Temperatures are expected to remain below freezing point for at least another week.
Police in Thailand have deported a Czech man wanted in his native country for knowingly spreading the HIV virus, the AP news agency reported. Zdeněk Pfeifer, who is 49, was arrested on the island of Phuket last week. He is accused of not informing dozens of male lovers that he had HIV; at least three contracted the disease. Mr. Pfeifer could face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty of grievous bodily harm.
Smog alerts have been brought to an end in a number of regions in the Czech Republic, including Prague and Central Bohemia. However, a fresh smog warning has been imposed in the Zlín region in southern Moravia. Most of the country’s regions were declared to have excessively high levels of dust particles in the air at the end of last week. The authorities in Prague had been considering introducing temporary free public transport in a bid to reduce car numbers but that idea has been dropped. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said the government will consider any suggestions on how to reduce smog put forward by the Ministry of the Environment.
Czech tennis players Lucie Šafářová and Andrea Hlaváčková have separately reached the women’s doubles semi-finals at the Australian Open. Lucie Šafářová, together with US partner Bethanie Mattek Sands, cruised to an easy win against the Chinese-US couple Raquel Atawa and Xu Yifan 6:1, 6:1. Andrea Hlaváčková, who played alongside Peng Shuaj of China, beat the third seeded pair Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia 7:5 and 7:6.
The Czech Republic is hoping to participate in the modernization of the port of Koper, Slovenia, in order to promote trade opportunities for Czech exporters. Minister Bohuslav Sobotka made clear following his meeting in Prague on Monday with his Slovenian counterpart, Miro Cerar. Located on the Istrian peninsula, the commercial port of Koper is the only one of its kind in the country. No final decision about Czech participation has been taken yet.
The Defence Ministry will invest 180 billion crowns (around 6.6 billion euros) over the next decade; of that amount 130 billion will go towards equipping the military’s ground forces. This year alone, the ministry will try and see deals worth 26 billion crowns approved, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický confirmed at a press conference alongside Czech Army officials. Investments planned include the purchase of some 62 Pandur and Titus armoured vehicles, DANA self-propelled howitzers, and dozens of lightly armoured vehicles for chemical and radiation analysis.