News Václav Havel memorial unveiled in Prague
A memorial dedicated to the late Václav Havel was unveiled in Prague’s Maltézské square on May Day. The memorial –a seating area comprised of a circular table and two wooden seats is a symbolic invitation for reflection and debate on the former president’s legacy. At the dedication ceremony Mr. Havel’s close friend, and his one-time chancellor at Prague Castle, Karel Schwarzenberg said that today, when the centre-left government had traded human rights for business deals in China, it was more important than ever to reflect on Vaclav Havel’s principles. Similar memorials have been unveiled in Georgetown, US, and Dublin, Ireland.
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Czech parties are now seeking to get their nominees in the team likely to accompany European Commission candidate Věra Jourová to Brussels. The Christian Democrats have confirmed that they are pushing for unsuccessful European Parliament candidate Eduard Hulicius to be part of Jourová’s team. The Social Democrats are also pressing for a representative to be part of the Cabinet as well. ANO’s first deputy chairwoman and current Minister for Regional Development should be confirmed by the government as the Czech nominee for the future commission late on Thursday.
Olomouc’s Palacký University Faculty of Science is hosting an international conference about centipedes, millipedes and related insects. The conference is giving particular attention this year to the largely untapped medicinal uses that they could be used for. Some of the insects secrete substances which have already been found to give partial protection against malaria or to reduce pain. The first such conference was held in Paris in 1968 and the last was held in Brisbane, Australia in 2011.
Czech inspectors have found that more than half the restaurants they checked up on discriminated against foreign clients. The inspectors from the Czech Commercial Inspectorate found that eight out of 13 restaurants they checked up on added extra charges to the bills of foreign customers compared with Czechs. Agents went undercover for the inspections by pretending they could only speak English. Other shortcomings were found at nine out of the 13 restaurants. The inspectorate pointed out that Prague is highly reliant on tourists with the aim that they should be treated fairly and not exploited. The inspectorate said it would continue checks throughout the tourist season and beyond because restaurants also served ex-pats living in Prague.
Ongoing problems with the restitution of church property will be resolved by a government committee prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka told the lower house of parliament on Thursday. Sobotka intervened in a debate over the controversial subject called jointly by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and the Dawn party. The prime minister attacked the deal to compensate churches and religious group for confiscations undertaken by the former Communist regime, saying that mechanism were lacking to check that property was not given back which religious groups had not owned in the first place. Sobotka’s Social Democrat party has attempted to reopen the restitution settlement agreed by the former centre-right coalition government without success.
Centre right party TOP 09 has a high chance of retaining its position as the biggest party in the Czech capital when Prague City Council elections are held in October. A survey by the polling agency SANEP suggested that TOP 09 would be the strongest party with 21.3 percent support. A three way coalition of the Christian Democrats, Mayors and Independents, and Green Party could win 14.2 percent of votes. The ANO party would come in third place with 12.4 percent followed by the Social Democrats with 11.8 percent, Civic Democrats with 11.1 percent and Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia with 7.6 percent. The Pirate party and Free Citizens Party would also get more 5.0 percent of the vote according to the survey. TOP 09 currently govern Prague City Hall in coalition with the Social Democrats.
Czech economic confidence fell for the first time this year in July according to the Czech Statistics Office. The overall composite confidence index slipped over the month by 0.7 points to stand at 7.6.points. Although consumer confidence continued to firm, companies have become more worried about the economic situation and outlook, the office said. Confidence in the hard hit construction sector climbed but industrial companies were among those which have switched to a more pessimistic and cautious outlook. The composite index stood at 5.5 points in January.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech has recovered from his injured shoulder and for the first time since April has taken part in a full training session with his club, Chelsea. He has been recovering since the injury in the semi-final of the Champions League against Atlético Madrid and surgery which took place in May. Chelsea are making a pre-season tour in Europe as key members of the squad return after world cup duty.
In football, Sparta Prague will face current Swedish league leaders Malmo in the third round of the Champions League. The Swedes secured their place in the next round after a 1:0 win at home. The first round of the two round tie against Sparta takes place next Tuesday in Prague. Elsewhere, Czech clubs Mladá Boleslav and Slovan Liberec play Thursday night in the qualifying stage of the Europa League. Slovan have a 1:0 lead against Slovak club Kosice from the away leg while Mladá Boleslav take a 2:1 victory at home to Bosnia and Herzegovina club Široki Brijeg.
The US Senate on Wednesday confirmed the US president’s proposal for top lawyer with Czech roots, Andrew Schapiro, to be the country’s ambassador in the Czech Republic. The current ambassador, Norman Eisen, is due to quit the Prague post in August. Schapiro is said to be close to the president, having been a fellow student of law at Harvard University and later going on to help with the financing of Obama’s political campaigns. He is currently a practicing lawyer at the firm of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, known for its business litigation. Schapiro’s mother left Prague in 1939 in fear of Nazi persecution.
Czech president Miloš Zeman defended Czech Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová when she was received at Prague Castle on Wednesday. Zeman told the fourth ranked singles player that the successful are often subject to envy from those who couldn’t do anything better. The president was referring to the comments of a Social Democrat member of parliament, Stanislav Haml, who suggested that Kvitová lose her Czech citizenship for locating to the tax haven of Monaco. Zeman apologized for not being present at Kvitová’s second Wimbledon singles win earlier this month but said that he disliked politicians’ habit of try to get a share of other people’s triumph. He was presented with a ticket for the Fed Cup finals in Prague in November when the Czech Republic faces Germany.