In the News 2.6.08

Winton train, Czech emmissions, & Klaus' reaction Staff

Written by Staff Published on 03.06.2008 11:08:22 (updated on 03.06.2008) Reading time: 4 minutes

Written by Masha Volynsky
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews


After the Czech Republicofficially recognized Kosovo the week before, President Vacláv Klaus publicly declared his opposition to the move, going as far as to say that he felt ashamed when speaking with Sebia’s ambassador shortly before he was recalled back to Belgrade. President Klaus wanted to point out to ambassador Vereš that the Czech people are still good friends of Serbia. This may be a bit of a confusing message to bring home.


State officials will be asking ten municipalities along the Polish border, lying within the Silesia, Olomouc, Hradec Králové, and Liberec regions, to give up part of their land to the northern neighbor. The first list of localities to be handed over to Poland, in an attempt to settle a territorial dispute that goes back to 1958, was released last week. So far, the government marked off 140 hectares of land, out of the promised 368 hectares.

So far, the most criticism has come from the Liberec region, which is concerned over the area near a village Kunratice .  The local residents and authorities fear the environmental effects the border move will have. Now, the frontier line, and a forest that separates it from Kunratice, keep the Turów brown coal mine and a power plant at a fairly safe distance. But increasing sewage and dust pollution problems are a big concern for the locals.


On the Czech side of the border, coal-fired power stations were happy to announce that they had below-limit emissions for 2007 . That is, according to the carbon-dioxide limits set by EU regulations. The power stations did have 10 million tones in reserve now, which they can sell for profit to other polluters, but they still produced a record total amount of emissions in the past three years.

This year, they may not get off as easily, since the EU permits from 2008 were drastically lower, amounting to less than 87.8 million tones that Czech power stations produced in 2007. The Czech government’s rage over the perceived injustices rages on, and the law suite that was filed earlier this year is still pending a verdict. In the meantime, maybe there will be a way to lower emissions with a concerted effort from the country, which would allow the Czech Republic not to lose money or damage its reputation.


A special transport will be heading to London from Prague later this year. A train will set out for Liverpool Street station on September 1 to retrace the journey of the Czech children who were taken to safety 69 years ago. The event will commemorate Sir Nicholas Winton who organized the transports and foster homes in England for almost 700, mostly Jewish, children. The Winton Train Project will witness a cultural collaboration, with renowned European public figures, offsprings of the “Winton Children”, and students from film and art schools traveling by train to meet Sir Winton in London. His efforts to save Jewish children in Prague in 1939 were discovered only in 1998, but now the humble benefactor has become well-known and highly respected in the Czech Republic and all over the world.


The Prague police have decided to help the tourists visiting the capital this summer – and fight the crimes that arise from the ever increasing influx of foreign guests. The newly created unit is called “King’s Mile”, which refers to the historical coronation route of Czech kings, stretching approximately from Wenceslas square to the Prague Castle, via the Old Town square and Charles Bridge. This happens to encompass the biggest tourist concentration in the historic center. Not only will there be an increased number of police officers in that area who will be combating street crime, above all pickpockets and money exchange fraudsters, but information booths as well. Tourists will be able to ask for help about practically anything of the officers manning the booths. The police are also recruiting students, who will help with their knowledge of foreign languages to answer the queries of visitors from all over the world.


Don’t be surprised to be delayed if you’re traveling by public transport in Prague on June 24. Prague’s tram and bus workers have joined in a general strike to protest the proposed healthcare reforms, and the doctor co-payments  that they bring with them. The strike was originally call by health workers’ union, who decided to shut down hospitals around the country for a full day, taking only emergency cases and rescheduling operations if possible. Public transport workers in the capital, and possibly in other cities, have announced their intention to interrupt service for one hour. Railroad workers’ union has also joined the one-hour strike in solidarity, although Czech Railways did not make any announcements on the issue last week. Although a strong show of support, the strikers will have a tough time fighting the upcoming reforms since the law seems not to be on their side so far. Last week the Constitutional Court has ruled that the provision about co-payments for doctor visits and prescriptions is constitutional.  


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