In the News 1.12.08

In the News 1.12.08

Written by Naďa Straková
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews

 



THE EVER PRESENT BOGUS CALLED BENEŠ DECREES. As soon as the Constitutional Court decided last Wednesday the Treaty of Lisbon does not violate Czech constitution, PM Topolánek confirmed what he was saying earlier. The Treaty will certainly not be ratified by the end of this year. Topolánek spoke to Václav Moravec who has a TV political talkshow on public service Czech TV broadcast every Sunday.

Some members of Civic Democratic Party do not show as much enthusiasm about the Lisbon Treaty as their colleagues at the Court did. In the same TV program Petr Bendl, regional governor of Central Bohemia and Deputy Chairman of ODS, said that the Treaty could open the contentious issue of the Beneš Decrees.

Just to remind you what the Beneš Decrees are about: It is a series of laws known popularly by the name of the second president of Czechoslovakia Edvard Beneš were enacted by his exiled government during the World War II and formed basis for stripping the Czech Germans of their property and citizenship after the defeat of Hitler’s Germany.

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NOT RIGHT ENOUGH. Barely a day went by last week without President Klaus being in the media last week. His lost battle over the Lisbon Treaty forced him to act. First, to nobody’s surprise, Klaus marked the Constitutional Court’s decision “political”, arguing that it was decided in advance, which is unfair. President Klaus also said he is hopeful some one else would require the Constitutional Court to deal with the Treaty again.

Then, he confessed he would try to set up a new party with a more right leaning tendencies.

See our online report of the Court session in Brno here.

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DEVIL OR ANGEL? For some a thorn in the eye and an arrogant populist who mocks others if they disagree with him. For others a lone crusader and a defender of liberty, an example to be followed. Václav Klaus has plenty of enemies throughout Europe but he also has numerous devotees around the globe.

His appearance at Czech Constitutional Court´s session resuscitated a debate on Václav Klaus’s role as president and Czech Republic’s forthcoming chairmanship of the European Union.

Around the globe dailies and magazines were trying to decode his controversial personality. New York Times, Die Presse, Irish Times, The Times – all had something to say about Klaus. See chat it was here.

Czech Foreign Affairs Minister Karel Schwarzenberg sees Klaus’s aversion to the Lisbon Treaty very clearly.

“Václav Klaus is a man of strong opinions. As every critic, he is right in some points. But I have a feeling that he is not acquainted with the overall EU reality,” said the minister in an interview for Austrian daily Der Standard.

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WHAT ARE HUMAN RIGHTS ANYWAY? Nineteen years after the Velvet Revolution and it looks like the concept of human rights still remains somewhat vague and ambiguous. That is why a bunch of people decided to do something about it and pressed for a publication of a handbook that deals precisely with this topic.

The handbook should help Czech teachers to explain their pupils what it means when you say “human rights”. And because nobody likes to read these days and everybody likes comics, the authors decided to do it a smart way – via a comics series they introduce two likeable fellows – Božka and Bohouš – who constantly talk about human rights.

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WAS STALIN A MASS MURDER? Svatomír Recman, Karel Konečný, Eva Valjentová, Zdeněk Dobrý and Jaroslav Bork – Guess what these names have in common. They are members of the Communist Party (KSČM) and they are regional councilors.

They share one more thing – they just won´t say whether Joseph V. Stalin  was a mass murderer or not.  And much more. They also made it clear that they have no intention to distance themselves from the crimes that their party committed in the past.

Aktuálně.cz asked a few more questions about some current communist regimes in the world. See the outcome of the survey.

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NO MEDDLING IN POLITICS. US-based economist Jan Švejnar, former presidential hopeful in February 2008 presidential election, has been asked by the Social Democratic Party to front the party’s campaign for the European Parliament elections next year.

Jan Švejnar turned down the offer. “It was not an official offer, rather a question whether I would accept such a role,” Švejnar said for Aktuálně.cz.

“I want to be publicly active even after the presidential election, but politics is not my priority now. We will see how things will develop,” Švejnar added, sounding mysteirously.

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BEING ECO IN VYSOČINA. It is not always easy to act eco-minded and not harm our mother nature. Wind-farms are certainly a good solution for getting energy the eco-way but then, it may harm the scenery and have impact on tourism.

At least that is what the Vysočina regional authorities have been saying. They oppose the plan to build two more wind-farms in the region, fearing that the facilities would harm the landscape and make the region less attractive for tourists.

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NOT MUCH GOING ON AROUND HERE. This year saw 299 photographers with permanent residence in the Czech Republic or Slovakia participating in the Czech Press Photo competition. In sum 4,352 photographs were submitted.

The international jury awarded the main prize of the competition – the Photography of the Year 2008 – as well as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes in eight categories, eight honorable mentions and a few minor awards.

The goal of Czech Press Photo, an annual contest and exhibition inspired by World Press Photo, is to highlight those pictures and themes that common media would only give a fleeting glimpse or ignore altogether. Never mind that “Not much is going on around here,” as Aktuálně.cz art reviewer tells us in his review, there are moments that deserve more attention than others. Have a look at some of the winning photographs here.



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