The Slovak Prime Minister, Iveta Radičová, is in Prague for talks with Czech officials. Speaking to reporters after meeting with her Czech counterpart Petr Nečas Monday morning, Ms. Radičová said that both countries were in favour of initiating penalties against EU countries that violate the union’s budgetary regulations, and they agreed that the EU should make its criteria for reviewing budget deficits more objective. The European Commission proposed harsher penalties for violations of budget regulations at the end of September, however member states have not been unified in their support. The two prime ministers did say that their stances towards the EU’s new budgetary regulations differed slightly as Slovakia, unlike the Czech Republic, is part of the eurozone.
Ms Radičová also met with the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Miroslava Němcová, with whom she discussed the possibility of creating Czech-Slovak workgroups to facilitate the exchange of various fields of experience between the two countries. The Slovak prime minister said that the Czech Republic for example could learn from Slovak experience with reforms, while her country would be interested in the Czech flood warning system. Ms Radičová also met with President Klaus and Senate Chairman Přemysl Sobotka on Monday.
President Václav Klaus has commented on the weekend’s local elections, saying the results are not cut and dry, and nearly every party is claiming to have won. The news website Novinky.cz reports that Mr Klaus says that the combination of local elections in large and small towns with elections to the Senate means that their result is not easy to assess. Prior to elections, the president said that he gives precedence to the traditional parties, saying that respectable people need to get the chance to run municipalities rather than upstarts with national political patrons.
Former president Václav Havel also commented on the elections, saying that he believes the result will “air out” the Prague City Hall. Mr Havel added that he sees the TOP 09 party in a positive light for the time being, and hopes that they can do better than the previous administration, which he called one of the worst the city had ever seen. Regarding the overall the former president was pleased by the success of independent candidates, which he has generally supported in the past. That result, he said was confirmation of his belief that individual figures and confidence in them are more decisive than political parties.
Prime Minister Nečas says that Prague should have a right-wing city council rather than a grand coalition. Mr Nečas told the economic daily E15 that while his party had suffered a defeat in the local elections at the weekend, the victory of TOP 09 was evidence of the preference for right-wing politics in the city and cooperation with the Social Democratic Party would therefore not be in the interests of the voters. TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats are to begin discussing a council coalition at the end of this week. The prime minister said his main concern in the coming days would be to prevent the Senate from becoming what he called a “destructive chamber of parliament” by falling to a Social Democrat majority in the second round of senate elections next weekend.
For his part, the Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said Monday that his party would not be looking to form municipal coalitions along specific party lines, but that the Prague government must change, and everyone who worked with outgoing mayor Pavel Bém “must go”. Mr Sobotka said his party’s priority in municipal negotiations would be to implement its programme as much as possible while making sure the changes their voters were calling for are addressed.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno, looks to be on its way to a grand coalition, according to the daily Mladá fronta Dnes. Citing unnamed contacts from both negotiating teams, the paper writes that the local Civic Democrats are leaning towards taking a majority on the city council while allowing the current mayor, Social Democrat Roman Onderka, to stay on. Despite having lost the local elections to the Social Democrats, the Civic Democratic Party in Brno is still in a position to form a centre-right coalition with TOP 09 and the Christian Democrats, forcing the left-wing Social Democrats into opposition.
The Ministry of Culture has announced it has appointed David Mareček, the director of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, to head the Czech Philharmonic. He will be replacing deputy culture minister Radek Zdráhal, who held the post in an interim role. Mr Mareček, who is 34 years old, has run the Brno Philharmonic since 2007 and is known for using unconventional methods to attract new and younger audiences. The national philharmonic orchestra has been under provisional management since August and has had numerous problems with its management in recent year; Mr Mareček will be the fifth director since 2009.
The Supreme Administrative Court has upheld a previous decision finding that the energy company ČEZ must provide information in accordance with freedom of information laws. The court thus agreed with the complaint of a civic association which has been attempting to acquire documentation on the fuel the company uses for several years. ČEZ considers the court’s decision a violation of its equal rights in relation to other companies on the free market; the court however found that the electricity giant meets the criteria of a public institution, established by the state, which also has a majority share in it.
The Municipal Court of Prague has acquitted three Armenians and a Chechen man of conspiring to murder an Armenian businessman in Prague. Prosecutors accused the men of being members of a criminal, Soviet-style gang and of having hired a hitman who killed a driver and stabbed another man in the attempt to murder his target. Another defendant in the case was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for blackmail, and another to 18 months, already served, for unlawful possession of a weapon and driver’s licence forgery. The prosecution appealed the decision but lost a bid to keep the men in police custody.
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