Archive for the ‘Czech Republic’ Category

Czech President has a point – How come young Syrian and Iraqi refugees are not fighting ISIS?

December 27, 2015

Miloš Zeman is a Social Democrat, a former Prime Minister and now President of the Czech Republic. But he is known for being unconventional and not averse, at times, to being politically incorrect and even taking “right wing” positions when it involves common sense. On the refugee situation he takes a fairly hard line – but it must be borne in mind that the Czech Republic is at heart an anti-immigrant nation (>70%).

His Christmas message has been heavily criticised – though mainly outside the Czech Republic:

The Guardian: The Czech president, Milos Zeman, has called the movement of refugees into Europe “an organised invasion” and declared that young men from Syria and Iraq should stay in their countries to “take up arms” against Isis.

“I am profoundly convinced that we are facing an organised invasion and not a spontaneous movement of refugees,” said Zeman in his Christmas message to the Czech Republic.

Compassion was “possible” for refugees who were old or sick, and for children, he said but not for young men who should be back home fighting against jihadists.

“A large majority of the illegal migrants are young men in good health and single. I wonder why these men are not taking up arms to go fight for the freedom of their countries against the Islamic State,” said Zeman, who was elected Czech president in early 2013.

Fleeing their war-torn countries only served to strengthen Isis, he said. ……… 

Migrants are not the only target of Zeman’s caustic remarks: he said last week that his country should introduce the euro on the first day after indebted Greece’s departure from the common currency, causing Athens to recall its ambassador.

He also said he was “very disappointed” that talks in the summer to eject Greece from the euro did not come to fruition.

Both the Czech Republic and Slovakia, former communist countries that joined the European Union in 2004, have rejected the EU’s system of quotas for distributing refugees amid the current migrant wave.

To talk of an “organised invasion” may be a bit of an exaggeration and he could have chosen his words to have been a little kinder to the Greeks, but on both issues I think he voices the correct, but politically incorrect, positions that must be addressed, but which others fear to express.

  1. Why are there so many young, single males among the refugees who are not opposing ISIS in their own countries? and
  2. With Greece remaining within the Eurozone, the Euro is significantly weaker and less attractive to any new prospective members.

The EU and its treaties are not Holy and written in stone. If the whole concept of the EU is to work it requires the club to be able to alter its rules – written for 6 members – to suit the realities of an expanded membership. And a Holy European Empire with a Pope in Brussels is not the way to go.

Czechs jump off the renewables train to nowhere

July 30, 2013

From Power Engineering:

The Czech Republic’s government has voted to end support for renewable power generation in a bid to reduce rising consumer electricity bills.

The law proposes to stop subsidies for new projects and goes in to effect from 2014.

Subsidies for renewable-power sources have raised prices for Czech energy users in the past three years as the cost is passed on through customer bills.

Prime Minister Jiri Rusnok said in the statement, that rising electricity prices “threatens the competitiveness of our industry and raises consumers’ uncertainty about power prices.”

Only hydro, wind and biomass power plants that got construction permits in 2013 will be eligible for support if they’re completed before the end of 2014, the statement said.

Václav Havel – RIP

December 18, 2011


Václav Havel, the Czech Republic’s first president after the Velvet Revolution against communist rule, has died at the age of 75. As president, he presided over Czechoslovakia’s transition to democracy and a free-market economy. He oversaw its peaceful 1993 split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Havel first came to international fame as a dissident playwright in the 1970s through his involvement with the human rights manifesto Charter 77.

.. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt wrote on Twitter: “Vaclav Havel was one of the greatest Europeans of our age. His voice for freedom paved (the) way for a Europe whole and free.”

In the early 1990’s I was once trying to sell a district-heating and power plant to be built in Ostrava in the then Czechoslavakia. Eventually the project did not go forward with the split in 1993 into Slovakia and the Czech Republic but I had the opportunity (and the privilege) to once present the project to President Vaclav Havel. He was a playwright by profession but his questions were pointed and precise. I found him remarkably sharp and capable in grasping the finer points in technical and economic arguments.

The Charter 77 declaration is here: Charter 77 declaration

Bulgaria: Arch-Rival Klaus: Havel and I Had Fruitful Disputes

Czeck President Vaclav Klaus (L) as he succeeds outgoing President Vaclav Havel (R) in 2003. SNA File photo

SNA: Havel passed away on Sunday after a protracted respiratory disease, just after turning 75 October 5.

“It was Havel who invited me to the emerging Civic Forum,” said Klaus in an official address Sunday, referring to the platform that led then-Czechoslovakia to democratization away from the communist regime.

The two Vaclavs went on to become arch-rivals in their visions for the development of the Czech Republic.


Plagiarising politicians and weekend Doctorates in the Czech Republic

November 4, 2011

The status conferred by academic titles in the Czech Republic is almost as strong as in Germany. Whereas in Germany it is the title of “Doctor” which is most sought after by politicians – as a stamp of public acknowledgement that one is a “deep thinker” – even a Masters degree in the Czech Republic can lead to the title  Pani magistra” or literally “Mrs Master’s degree holder.

Petty politicians appending academic titles to enhance their electoral chances is not of course so uncommon. What is surprising for me is that Prague and its citizens, who I think are extremely sophisticated and discerning in matters academic and who have a strong sense of the long academic traditions of the city, would be taken in by such nonsense.

And the mass-production of fake doctorates  by the law faculty of the University of West Bohemia (ZČU) in Plzeň  led to over 300,000 degree awards being audited in 2009! This even led to a Wikileaks cable from the US Embassy in Prague ( Wikileaks id #233660) in November 2009 about the scandal and reporting:

A joke is making the rounds: “What are you doing this weekend?” Answer: “Getting a law degree.”

Czech position  now reports that yet another politician is accused of plagiarism – this time for a Master’s thesis.

Prague district mayor ‘plagiarized’ his master’s thesis

… Two prominent academics who separately examined the master’s thesis of Prague 11 mayor Dalibor Mlejnský (Civic Democrats, ODS), due to suspicions of plagiarism, say the majority of the paper was indeed copied verbatim — and almost completely lacked citation. Mlejnský’s thesis titled “The History of Charles University” was lifted from two books (Jacques LeGoff’s “Intellectuals in the Middle Ages” and, more obviously, volumes of “The History of Charles University” by various scholars over the centuries, according to the two academics, who had been asked by the state broadcaster to make the expert assessments.


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