The Czech Foreign Ministry says its cultural showcase institutes around the world, Czech Centers, are protected from the risk of court ordered seizures of artworks and property. The Paris center is believed to be in danger after a local court recognized the claims of blood plasma company Diag Human to around Kč 10 billion from an arbitration settlement and interest. Prague has, nevertheless, ordered artworks to be returned home.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed Russian media reports that it will open five visa centers in the cities of Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Rostov-on-Don and Novosibirsk. The ministry says it expects the new centers will process tens of thousands of applications for short term visas. The centers promise to further boost the increase in Russian visitors.
Talks over the potential sale of the Lobkowicz Palace, to its current tenants, the German state, have been ongoing for some time. At a cabinet meeting to be held May 11 it appears the issue might finally be coming to a head, with the Czech government expected to announce its position on the potential sale or exchange of the property for a property in Berlin.
Following years of debate over what form state support for exports should take, the Ministry of Industry and Trade has a concept based on a model proven in Scandinavia. Instead of presenting goods at international trade fairs, Czech export promotion will concentrate on finding opportunities in global trends and problems and encourage Czech manufacturers and producers to develop appropriate solutions.
Most Czechs agree that the current bilateral investment treaty with the US is tipped in favor of American investors and opens Prague up to expensive arbitration proceedings. But Ministry of Finance moves to cancel the current deal to get something better are running into opposition in the US and from US business interests here. Support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been tepid as well.
Belarusian opposition politician Ales Mikhalevich has been granted political asylum in the Czech Republic after fleeing Belarus without a passport due to fears of imprisonment and persecution. Mikhalevich, who reportedly arrived in this country last week, claimed that the treatment of political prisoners in the Belarusian State Security Agency (KGB) prison where he was held until Jan. 19 amounted to torture.
Ales Mikhalevich, an opposition candidate in last December’s presidential elections in Belarus, is in the Czech Republic where he has applied for political asylum, Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Vít Kolář confirmed to the Belarus news agency Belapan on Friday.
Following the UN Security Council resolution passed on Thursday night sanctioning the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya, Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) and defense and foreign ministers have ruled out Czech military involvement. The country could, however, help in other ways.
Two planes belonging to the Czech Ministry of Defense evacuated 106 people from earthquake-struck Japan, including 41 members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The rest of the orchestra is remaining on the country’s unaffected west coast. Two Slovaks, a Pole, a Bulgarian and a Korean man married to a Czech citizen were among the evacuation flight passengers.
The shortwave service of Radio Prague, which helped to counter Nazi-era propaganda and tell the world about the 1968 Soviet-led invasion, has ended. New digital-age technology had been putting pressure on the service for years, and recent budget cuts took the final toll. While many people in the Czech Republic were unaware of the service, it still had many fans worldwide.