In the News 1.9.08

In the News 1.9.08

Written by Naďa Straková
Aktuálně.cz CzechNews


TO ISOLATE OR NOT TO ISOLATE. That is what the EU leaders are asking today at an emergency meeting in Brussels where they came to discuss the Georgia-Russia conflict. 

Despite having the government´s mandate to defend Georgia´s territorial integrity and sovereignty, the Czech delegation, headed by PM Mirek Topolánek, will not achieve much more than strong words of criticism.


BOYCOTT SOCHI. In a revolting spirit happens to be Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg who suggested Czechs could boycott the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi in an interview in Saturday´s Die Presse, Austrian daily. Minister also said it would be somewhat strange to organize a sports event near a place where war was waged and people were dying.


INTERNATIONAL DONORS IN PRAGUE. Schwarzenberg has been also pressing for throwing an international donor conference to boost more aid for war-ravaged Georgia.

“The conference will not aim to discuss the causes of the conflict, but to solve its consequences,” said Ministry´s spokesperson Zuzana Opletalová.


RUSSIAN PRESS AGENCY ONLINE. And what has got the other side to say? Pavel Andreev, who currently works as a deputy chief of London bureau of Russian news agency RIA-Novosti after a stint with Russian foreign ministry, talked to readers of Aktuálně.cz in an online interview last week.

Andreev thinks that “Czech media are following the trend of the Western media generally. Well, it is mostly based on ill-information and stereotypes. Unfortunately, once again Russia failed to explain itself well enough, but then the West didn’t really want to listen. Everything the Saakashvili PR team was putting out fell very neatly into the narrative so why bother with getting to the nitty-gritty aspects of the problems. It’s hard to find time for it in the 24/7 news rotation.”

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When asked, how come Russians are all so united in their of the conflict, Andreev explained “the trend the majority of the (Russian) population support is that essentially, we want to build our country ourselves.” That is without the help of the United States.


MILKING COWS IN GHETTOS. Whoever wants to make easy money, here is a tip: buy a house from a city council occupied by socially marginalized people and raise their rent.

Since they are socially weaker than the rest of the society, soon they will not be able to pay the rent. So you lend them money but they still cannot pay back and officially, they become your debtors. In that case, entitled by Czech law, you can apply for their social benefit and here you go, you have a long-term “salary” guaranteed every month and by the state (!).


RADIO AS A MEDIAVAL STRONGHOLD. The new headquarters of Radio Free Europe that broadcasts from Prague to countries all over the world looks like a modern fort, and what more, in the fashion of a medieval stronghold, the new Radio Free Europe building is to be strongly fortified against any kind of attack. Its security measures are secret even to the architects.


SUING HISTORY. Ski jumper-turned politician Pavel Ploc has decided to take action and sue the historians for linking his name to communists’´ informers.

Now, the MP for Social Democrats and formerly Olympic medal winning ski-jumper does not like his name among the informants in the archive records held by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. Whether he was or was not an informant, only his mind knows best, as the fact that somebody was registered as a confidant or a candidate with the secret service doesn’t mean he was a snitch.

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EDAM IN A BATTLEFIELD. Czechs are certainly bigger meat-lovers than cheese-lovers but if it comes down to their Edam, they are ready to fight for it. Czech authorities have recently raised objections against the Netherlands’s effort to have a Holland Edam trademark registered, arguing the Edam has an old tradition in the country and 40,000 tons of Edam produced every year just cannot disappear from the market.


VILLA TUGENDHAT NOT UNDER RECONSTRUCTION. The only Czech landmark listed as the Unesco World Heritage site in the modern architecture category, was supposed to be long under reconstruction but it is not and it will not be for a while.

The tender to reconstruct the Villa Tugendhat, desiged by the founder of modern architecture Ludwig Mies van den Rohe, was found illegal. The Antimonopoly Office (ÚOHS) ruled so, making the result of the tender default.

Many consider the Villa Tugendhat as the most important work in Europe by Mies van den Rohe who later moved to the United States. The Villa was built in the year 1938-1930 and in 1939 the Gestapo confiscated the villa, making it the design studio for Messerschmidt, a famous German WWII fighter aircraft manufacturer.

The Villa´s revolutionary concept of the interior as an open space was later used by many architects. The space is divided into functional zones only by the arrangements of tables and chairs and other furniture, also designed by the architect.


BARK BEETLE IN BRUSSELS. The question of how to fight the bark beetle in the Šumava National Park has truly become transnational and is going to be discussed in Brussels.

While the Czech side is an advocate of a moderate approach, that is not to remove the infested trees, the German and Austrian sides want to take action and cut down all the attacked trees.

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The bark beetle knows no borders, spreading equally in the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria, now who is to take responsibility for helping the bark beetle spread even faster, the Brussels court will have to decide.


A ZOO OR PRAGUE CASTLE? That seems to be the question asked by tourists these days. According to the latest figures, Prague Castle was the most visited spot in the country in 2007 but zoos are quickly catching up.

And there is a zoo in the ČR that offers both – a historical building as well as animals. 2 in 1. A zoo in a chateau garden in Lešná u Zlína in south-east Moravia, displays animals from four continents – from elephants to lions and tigers – reported a 24-percent increase in visitation. Lešná´s expositions are interestingly placed within a historic chateau park.

The neo-Gothic, neo-Renaissance and neo-Baroque chateau may not have the majestic atmosphere of Prague Castle but its authentic 19th century bathrooms with hot water are supposed to be worth paying the visit.

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