Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


Vaclav Klaus talks about the crisis

In Links,Politics on January 4, 2012 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

Czech President Vaclav Klaus talks to Croatian Globus Weekly about the financial crisis (translation into English posted on the website of the Office of the President of the Czech Republic.


Havel’s tomb to be visited by thousands of “fans”

In Politics on December 23, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

Thousands of people are expected to visit the Vinohrady cemetery in Prague to pay respect to the late president Vaclav Havel. His family’s tomb can be found here, at the second largest Prague cemetery which is also a cultural landmark. According to media reports hundreds of candles had been placed and lit near the tomb even before the Friday funeral which was attended by numerous world leaders, including Nicolas Sarkozy, Bill and Hillary Clinton, David Cameron and others. Havel’s parents and first wife Olga are also buried in the tomb. It is one of fourteen tombs located within a chapel which was built in 1897.


Candles lit for Vaclav Havel around the country

In Politics on December 21, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

As the coffin of former President Vaclav Havel went on display in Prague where thousands of people have been coming in person, people all over the country keep bringing candles to places which are more or less associated with Havel. On the other hand, there are also places which have nothing to do with him, they have just been picked at random by people who gathered to pay respect to Havel. In Brno, hundreds of candles can be seen on a fountain, in front of a memorial on the central square or in front of a theatre which used to show Havel’s plays.

Photos: (c) Petr Bokuvka



Vaclav Havel, the symbol of democracy, has died

In Politics on December 19, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

As of last Sunday, Czechs will probably have a new Where were you when… question.

Where were you when you found out about the death of Vaclav Havel? Havel died in his sleep at his weekend house, following a lengthy period of health problems. Since February he has been cancelling most of his scheduled events and his public appearances were less than sporadic. According to some news reports, he has died of circulatory system failure.

Most Czech personalities comment on Havel’s undeniable contribution to the end of communism. Notable world leaders were quick to respond in their own individual ways, including Barack Obama or the Dalai Lama

His peaceful resistance shook the foundations of an empire, exposed the emptiness of a repressive ideology, and proved that moral leadership is more powerful than any weapon. (…) He played a seminal role in the Velvet Revolution that won his people their freedom and inspired generations to reach for self-determination and dignity in all parts of the world.   — Barack Obama (source: AFP)

A three-day official mourning period will be observed from Wednesday to Friday. A state funeral will take place on Friday. Havel’s family decided to have him cremated. The Czech government is considering the adoption of a special law to recognize his contribution to freedom and democracy.

The truth is that Havel taught Czechs that democracy is a hard work and that it is one of the most important things to be thankful for. Since the Velvet Revolution, Havel has commented on the issue of freedom in less fortunate countries and regions (such as Russia or Tibet), reminding world leaders (with more or fewer attributes of dictatorship) that the 20th century democracy benefits everyone. 

He represented civilized politics in the Czech Republic, which is something that we have not seen in this country for a few years. Maybe even from the moment he resigned. Some people called him idealist and said that many of his views had little in common with the way politics is done these days. But according to many Czechs, he was the force that held many politicians back… According to a recent research, 99 percent of Czechs who did not vote in the last elections are disgusted with politics.

Thousands of people passed a plain coffin guarded by the late president’s coffin to pay their last respect on Monday.

There have already been some proposals that the Prague International Airport should be named after Havel.


Schwarzenberg will run for president

In Politics on October 24, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged:

Karel Schwarzenberg is the first official presidential candidate. During the last weekend’s meeting of his party TOP09 (of which he is the Chairman), he officially accepted the candidacy for both direct or indirect vote, depending on which of the two systems will apply (currently, the president is elected by both chambers of the Parliament).

According to some top officials of the TOP09 party, Schwarzenberg could be an acceptable candidate for both right-wing and left-wing lawmakers, if the future president is indeed elected by the Parliament.

Schwarzenberg is a very unique personality in the Czech politics. First of all, he is a nobleman, his full name being Karl Johannes Nepomuk Josef Norbert Friedrich Antonius Wratislaw Mena Fürst zu Schwarzenberg. He has been perceived as one of the most respected politicians as he has not been involved in dirty party games, corruption and the like. He is known for his honesty (on several occasions, he referred to politicians in general as idiots).

Leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, was quoted as saying that Schwarzenberg is “an overripe candidate“. Social Democrats consider having former PM and European Commissioner Vladimir Spidla.


Czech reactions to the death of Qaddafi

In Politics on October 21, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

The Czech government shall immediately grab the opportunity and help Czech companies and businesspersons succeed on the Libyan market, the Mlada fronta Dnes daily quotes analysts and experts in international relations as saying.

The foreign trade relations between the former Czechoslovakia and Libya were very close. If, according to experts, Czech businesses succeed in Libya now, they can assume good positions on their respective markets (sure, the earlier pre-1989 relations included the sale of weaponry).

In response to the killing of Qaddafi, Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has been very “careful” about acknowledging the new Libyan government, unlike his French or German counterparts. “I cannot acknowledge anyone who does not have the entire country under control,” he said. As for the death of Qaddafi, the minister said (source) “So far it has been a successful revolution, but there is no way of knowing who is going to govern (…)” and added that he will be open to any reforms and

Pre-1989 Czechoslovak technology is still used in Libya frequently and many local businesses (major companies) are still controlled by managers who were involved in these trade relations. In 1978 the communist regime conferred on him The Order of the White Lion.

Photo: (c) Reuters


Counterintelligence: a gate wide open

In Law,Politics on October 18, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka

(c) Petr Bokuvka

The Brno bureau of the Czech counterintelligence agency (BIS – is located right next to a Brno Transit Authority terminal which is served by one tram line and seven bus lines. One might find it odd that there is graffiti on the wall and the rear gate often remains open and unguarded for five minutes.

It is no secret that the building is used by BIS, even though there is no bronze sign on the front entrance or a warning do-not-enter sign on the five-foot fence. I interviewed the BIS spokesman for my article in the Metropol biweekly. He told me that the graffiti has been there for years and that it is possible that the vandal did not even know that it is in fact a BIS bureau.

On the other hand, several days ago the rear gate had remained open and unguarded for at least five minutes. Sure, the risk is very small – but it does exist theoretically. And the agency’s role is to pay attention to theoretical risks to the country as well. Its spokesman confirmed they were sure that the agency is still able to fulfill its legal role.

According to my information, due to the public budget cuts which are related to the global financial crisis the agency has been laying people off. In the case of this particular building, it should be about 30 percent of the original number of employees. Naturally, the agency cannot comment (confirm or deny) on the basis of the provisions of the act on the protection of classified information.


Neo-nazi march blockade led to a detour

In Brno,Politics on May 1, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: ,

[EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS INSIDE] On May 1, one is supposed to kiss one’s girlfriend under a cherry tree. Political movements have a worse idea – to celebrate May Day by meeting, talking and marching. About twelve hundred ordinary people decided to protest in the streets of Brno today against a parade of a political movement that is claimed to have neo-nazi attributes. The parade was permitted, the blockade was spontaneous. The result: the parade did take place, but it was rerouted.

The parade was planned to lead through a neighborhood were most Roma live (Cejl). Long before the march was to start, hundreds of people (most of them Roma, but also including students, families and pensioners) had created a human bottle stopper. However, the police had the right to tell them to leave, as the march was okayed by the court (which does not mean that I say it was okay / ed.). Soon it became obvious that it would be impossible to order all protesters to leave peacefully. So the march-goers went the opposite direction, otherwise they would have met with the protesters in the earliest stage, rendering the actual parade impossible.

While the march was underway, the police and other authorities waited whether or not there would be any illegal activity on the part of the attendees, because it would give the police the legal right to call the whole thing off as illegal, malum prohibitum, not malum per se. It did not happen and the march got dangerously close to the waiting protesters. The police therefore ordered that the parade take a right turn for a minor detour. It was amazing to see the dozens, if not hundreds, of young Roma boys lining up in front of the combat gear cops, just yards away from their homes, while many of the march-goers were from out of town…

Eventually, however, the parade ended where it started, which inevitably led to some smaller clashes. A total of 15 people were arrested for various offenses (including the possession of a firearm in public or failure to comply with police officer’s orders).


Some travel agencies still offer resorts in Tunisia

In In The News,Politics,World on January 17, 2011 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , ,

Czechs are strongly discouraged from travelling to Tunisia, according to a recent warning posted by the Foreign Affairs Ministry as unrest and violence continues in this African country, a favorite spot for Czech sun-and-sea budget travellers (as Tunisia is significantly cheaper than Spain, Canary Islands, etc.). Interestingly enough, most Czech travel agencies have left Tunisian destinations in their systems, so one can book their holiday in a four-star hotel in any of the Tunisian resorts without any feedback from the system (see screenshot). Of course, it would probably be complicated and naturally one can assume that anyone who has eyes and ears must have already heard about the events that have resulted in impromptu evacuations of clients of Western European travel agencies. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to expect that a travel agency would inform its potential clients that martial law is in effect in their desired destination.

According to the Foreign Ministry there are no Czech tourists in the country (with Czech travel agencies, that is). However, several women whose husbands are Tunisians have contacted the Czech embassy and inquired about the possibility of being evacuated.


Thousands on strike against public sector pay cuts

In Economy,Education & Science,Politics on December 8, 2010 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , ,

About 100,000 state employees were on strike on Wednesday against the plans of the Czech government to cut salaries in the public sector by approximately 10 percent. Teachers, office workers, school canteen cooks etc. are joined by doctors from public hospitals.

The planned pay cut is a reaction of the government to the “condition” of the state budget and to keep the 2010 deficit under at least some control. Due to the ongoing financial crisis the total amount of taxes collected is naturally way lower and the state can no longer afford to have (pay) this many state employees under the current salary system.

Furthermore, the current system of  “wage tables” (a system of salaries according to which a state employee is automatically entitled to a certain salary) will be abolished, giving more freedom in hiring practices, as server noted.

When it comes to “lower incomes”, thousands of self-employed persons (like hairstylist, handymen, translators etc.) have already experience the same, as they have fewer customers and work in general. And nobody strikes against that. So why should the employees of the state be the only persons who get to keep their original pre-crisis salaries while the rest of the taxpayers in the country have much less… especially since these taxes are used to pay the state employees…

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