The leaders of the three ruling parties have reached an agreement for the continuation of the centre-right government. After several hours of negotiations throughout Tuesday afternoon, the parties agreed on measures intended to keep the budget deficit below 3% GDP for 2013 and 2014 – a fundamental condition for the senior coalition parties. The junior coalition Public Affairs party, which ignited the current crisis last week with far-reaching demands, says they pushed through an agreement on maintaining maternity subsidies, which the party said was a priority. Public Affairs chairman Radek John said the goal of achieving better communication had been reached.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs wants to add an additional 140 million crowns to social services this year. Speaking after a meeting with an association of health care providers, Labour Minister Jaromír Drábek said he believed he would find the money within the ministry and planned to discuss the matter with the prime minister and Finance Minister. The association, which cares for the handicapped, seniors and others in need, says that the current lack of financing means that a number of services will be cancelled. A demonstration planned for April 16 was cancelled as per the agreement.
Financier Petr Kellner is making a major donation to President Václav
Klaus’ emerging think tank. In a rare interview for the daily Mladá
fronta Dnes the wealthiest Czech said he had decided to give the Václav
Klaus Institute a one-time donation of several tens of millions of crowns
for the long-term rental of a venue. Kellner said former presidents were
symbols and as such should receive greater support, which private
businessmen like himself could provide if the state would not. Václav
Klaus has said the aim of the institute is to comment on politics inside
and outside the Czech Republic through analyses, studies and statements.
On a separate note, Mr Kellner also told the paper that he believes corruption in the Czech Republic has gone “over the edge” and is worse than in Russia.
Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra awarded participants in the anti-communist resistance on Tuesday for the first time since the ratification of new legislation recognising their acts. A total of 23 people were awarded with certificates and badges, including four who were honoured in memoriam. Mr Vondra said in introduction that the country was paying back an enormous debt and told the recipients that freedom exists today thanks to people like them.
Industry Minister Martin Kuba says that the controversial anti-counterfeiting treaty ACTA should be reviewed by the Constitutional Court before being ratified. ACTA has stirred up a wave of international opposition in recent months and is currently being reviewed by the European Court of Justice. Mr Kuba, who also met with the Czech Pirate Party on Tuesday, said that his ministry would insist on a review by the court to ensure that it is in harmony with existing legislation and does not impede personal freedoms but added that the Industry Ministry had already done an analysis that show that ACTA changed nothing in the Czech legislation.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico will be visiting the Czech Republic on April 20 on his first trip abroad since taking office. The chairman of the Slovak Social Democratic party that he would be meeting, as is customary, with Prime Minister Nečas and President Klaus. Politicians from both countries have said their relations are exceptionally good. The centre-left Social Democrats swept early elections in Slovakia last month, allowing for a one-party government which took office last week. Robert Fico was also Prime Minister between 2006 and 2009.
The Czech Trade and Industry Ministry has dismissed fears of a shortage of crude oil following reports that the Russian state oil pipeline monopoly Transneft only has sufficient volume in the Druzhba pipeline to supply the Czech Republic for three more days. According to the Reuters news agency Russian oil companies failed to submit new requests for deliveries to Czech customers. A Transneft spokesman said the company was not limiting supplies to anyone, but that requests for oil had not been processed. Vaclav Bartuska, a special government envoy for energy security told Reuters the Czech side had not been informed about any supply reductions, but noted that the country could replace the missing volumes through the IKL pipeline bringing oil from the Mediterranean. Moreover he said the Czech Republic has reserves of oil and oil products for more than 90 days.
Astronomers from the Kleť Observatory in South Bohemia have named an asteroid they discovered after one of Václav Havel’s theatrical characters, Ferdinand Vaněk. The roughly two-kilometre long object was discovered in 2004 in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The team originally wanted to name it after the former president, however the International Astronomical Union does not allow bodies to be named after politicians until 100 years after their death. The popular character from Havel’s play “The Audience” was therefore chosen. Ferdinand Vaněk also made a notable public appearance in the 1980s when a birthday message was sneaked onto a page of the Communist newspaper Rudé Právo alongside a picture of dissident Václav Havel.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic fell 0.3% to 8.9% in March from the preceding month. Analysists contacted by the Czech Press Agency put the drop down to early seasonal work allowed by the good weather, but said the situation on the labour market overall remains poor and agreed that no significant improvement on the labour market could be expected at the time being due to the uncertain outlook for further development. The number of vacancies reportedly rose to 39,000, which is still roughly three quarters lower than in March 2008.
A school headmaster in Libouchec in Northern Bohemia has been given a two year suspended sentence for having sex with a 14-year-old former student. He was also prohibited from working with children for four years. The headmaster had reportedly known the girl since her early childhood, when she attended a dance class taught by himself and his wife, who filed the suit. The teacher testified that the acts were consensual and that he and the girl were in love.
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