Slovakia's refusal to contribute to the EU bailout package for Greece cannot be interpreted as a lack of solidarity but rather as a call for greater responsibility, representatives of the Visegrad group states concluded on Tuesday. Parliamentary committees for European Affairs of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia debated the issue at a meeting in Prague and fully accepted Slovakia’s stand that providing the aid would sanction the actions that led to the crisis, including providing misleading information about Greece’s financial circumstances. Slovakia, the poorest and newest member of the 16-nation euro zone, refused to contribute 700 million euro to the 80 billion euro EU rescue package, which was supplemented by30 billion euro from the International Monetary Fund.
The Civic Democratic Party has unanimously elected its candidate for the post of Prague mayor in the autumn local elections. The nominee is a former head of the Czech Medical Chamber, physician Bohuslav Svoboda, who has no party affiliation. He will be running against TOP 09 candidate Zdeněk Tuma, Markéta Reedová of Public Affairs and Jiří Dienstbier jr. representing the Social Democrats. A spokesman for the Civic Democrats said Mr. Svoboda had won the nomination hands down, on account of the fact that he was widely respected in his profession and was not linked to the Civic Democratic Party in any way. The party’s Prague leadership has come under severe criticism in recent months with allegations of money squandering and corruption.
The Czech Republic, Germany and Poland will ask jointly for EU funds to help cope with the damage caused by the August floods, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Saxony's Prime Minister Stanislaw Tillich said on Tuesday. EU aid money can be drawn if the damage is over 21 billion crowns. The damage estimate in the Czech lands falls short of that amount but a joint request by the three neighbouring states would fulfil the criteria. According to the latest data, the total flood damage in northern Bohemia in August crossed 10 billion crowns.
Transport Minister Vít Bárta on Tuesday lifted a ban on railway and road construction projects after receiving assurances of price cuts from building companies. Mr. Bárta said that building work would continue five percent cheaper, adding that this was not the end of the ministry’s efforts to cut costs. All rail and road construction projects were halted at the beginning of August as the ministry reviewed its spending. Road and motorway construction projects will continue with four exceptions. The transport minister said there was no money left for a bypass of the town of Česká Lípa, northern Bohemia, a motorway connecting Opava and Ostrava, northern Moravia, and two access roads to the D47 motorway in northern Moravia.
Czech data protection authorities have stopped Google collecting new
images to update its Street View service. The Office for Personal Data
Protection this week rejected for a second time Google's application to
collect personal data on the grounds that the process could potentially
break the law. Czechs can already request their images be blurred out, but
there is still a question over car registration plates or facades of houses
appearing on Street View, which covers the capital Prague and three other
A spokeswoman for the office said the decision would not ban Google from using photographs already taken since the Czech launch of Street View in October 2009. She said talks over the use of data would continue.
A key witness in the case of a premeditated arson attack against a Roma family which left a two-year old scarred for life has refused to take the stand saying he feared for his life and that of his family. The man, who works as a voluntary fire fighter, helped the police trace the four culprits responsible for the attack in Vitkov after overhearing a phone conversation in which there was a clear reference to the planned attack. On Tuesday he told an Ostrava court he would not stand as witness after receiving death threats. Four right-wing extremists have been charged with attempted murder and face 15 years in prison.
TOP 09 and Public Affairs are seeking an amendment to the law which would see the use of lasers banned in the vicinity of all Czech airports. The proposed amendment, which is yet to be discussed by the lower house, envisages a five million crown fine for breaking the ban in a given security zone around airports. The proposal comes in the wake of numerous complaints from pilots who say that lasers blind them and endanger passenger safety during take-offs and landings. Civic Democrat MP Zdeněk Lhota, who drafted the proposed amendment, says there have been at least eight such incidents in the vicinity of Prague Airport in the past year.
The internationally renowned Czech mezzo-soprano Soňa Červená is taking the Czech Interior Ministry to court after her name appeared on a list of communist secret service collaborators. Ms Červená fled to the West in 1962 and has sung in opera houses in Vienna, Frankfurt, and San Francisco. She says that while she was closely followed by the communist secret service for years she never cooperated with them in any way or signed any document which might lead to such an assumption.
The number of distraint orders has dropped after climbing steadily since 2001, according to figures released by the office responsible for property seizures. With just over 300,000 property seizures registered in the first six months, the overall number of repossessions in 2010 is expected to be lower than last years’ 718,000. 2009 saw a dramatic 30 percent increase in repossessions as the crisis hit family budgets. Economists attribute the current drop to a more prudent lending policy on the part of banks and monetary institutions.
Two five-year-old children were hit by a truck after it failed to stop for a kindergarten group crossing a busy road. The accident happened in Brno on Tuesday morning with two teachers supervising the outing. A five-year-old girl who took a direct hit is in serious condition, a boy who was walking alongside her escaped with light injuries. The other children are suffering from shock. Police say an alcohol test proved negative and have requested a report on the technical state of the vehicle.
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