A rumor has spread among Czech politicians and lobbyists that the investigation into former defense minister Martin Barták in connection with Czech army orders worth Kč 2.7 billion is to be transferred from the Ostrava region prosecution service to Prague on Friday. According to the rumors, the Prague prosecution service is to ensure that the investigation into the army purchases be dropped.
As a result of savings measures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs now has 333 fewer employees and several Czech diplomatic missions have been closed. While all attempts to save money in the public sector should be applauded, it’s nevertheless necessary to ask whether the initiative in the foreign ministry has made sense. Several interested parties claim the savings measures were unjustified and the positive results are negligible.
It takes 13 hours of work at the Česká zbrojovka (CZ) arms factory in Uherský Brod, southeastern Moravia, to manufacture one CZ 805 Bren assault rifle — a weapon to be issued to the Czech Army en masse at the end of this coming summer. The military is to obtain more than 8,000 Bren rifles for Kč 1.1 billion. This delivery forms a part of a project called Soldier for the 21st Century. Many people, however, still have fond memories of the Vz. 58, which it is replacing.
Gen. Miroslav Krejčík, a former Czech Military Intelligence (VZ) head, has presented evidence before a parliamentary committee allegedly proving former Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanová pressured VZ members to spy on their own boss; Social Democrat (ČSSD) MP Václav Klučka, who attended the closed-door session, told Czech Position that based on the testimony, he would file a criminal complaint against her.
Since Czech Position reported last month that Prague is likely to withdraw from a bilateral Czech-US treaty on protection of investments, there have been some developments on the issue, with the Czech chargé d’affaires in Washington being summoned to the State Department. Czech diplomats now have some hope that the US is prepared to compromise — due to the lure of a $28 billion tender to expand Temelín.
Libor Vrba, the director of the Financial Crime and Corruption Division (ÚOKFK) of the Czech Police, resigned Feb. 23 and will leave his post March 15, according to media reports. Minister of Interior Radek John (Public Affairs, VV) has already dismissed several important figures appointed by his predecessor, Ivan Langer. Vrba was also a Langer appointee, and speculation that he would also lose his job began several months ago.
“Public demand” was the reason Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) gave for calling a press conference on Thursday to reveal the ministry’s findings in its investigation into payments to ProMoPro, the company that provided audiovisual services during the Czech EU Presidency in 2009.
The Czech government in early January postponed plans to renegotiate or scrap a bilateral treaty with the US on the support and protection of investments. It transpires that diplomatic courtesy is behind the delay: Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg did not want the issue to be the first item on the agenda for the new US ambassador Norman Eisen.
What’s an easy way for the state to lose dozens of millions of crowns in a few short years? The Czech army recently decommissioned a radar that the Ministry of Defense then sold it on for a fraction of its value. Such was the fate of the unique Komár 2 (or “Mosquito 2”) radar system developed by Tesla in Pardubice in the 1980s.
The Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) tells Czech Position that a planned thorough inspection of the Czech Export Bank (ČEB) is standard procedure — and long overdue. Nevertheless, fewer than six months ago the former director of the bank resigned amid allegations of attempting to favor certain companies.
Reporter for ČESKÁ POZICE. He specializes in diplomacy, security policy, European integrations and politics in the Czech Republic. He studied at the Philosophical Faculty and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, later working in the European Commission for the foundation Ano pro Evropu (Yes for Europe) and as a reporter for the weekly Euro.