Slovak PM Robert Fico has criticized US plans to site part of its missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Addressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Monday, Mr Fico said that he considers the project to be pointless. He expressed the view that any decisions on defence-related issues should be subject to negotiations between NATO and the EU. The Slovak Prime Minister also rejected the notion that bilateral talks between the United States and individual European allies do not concern third countries, especially those neighbouring on the Czech Republic and Poland.
The health of former Czech President Václav Havel, who was hospitalized with a heart problem over the weekend, is reported to have improved slightly. Mr Havel was admitted to hospital on Saturday with bronchitis and heart arrhythmia, a problem aggravated by his busy work schedule. Doctors at the Prague Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine where Mr Havel is hospitalized say he will remain in hospital for another two weeks during which he will undergo a series of heart and lungs examinations.
The Irish independently-produced movie Once with Czech singer Markéta Irglová has been nominated for the Academy Award for best original song for the ballad Falling Slowly. The romance of an Irish busker with a Czech immigrant in Dublin stars Czech singer Markéta Irglová and Irish musician Glen Hansard. Produced for 160,000 US dollars, it has made more than 15.2 million dollars world wide. Last year, it won the audience award at the Sundance film festival in the United States and also won the Grammy awards nomination for best soundtrack.
The Czech National Bank is ready to raise the interest rate in the event of price-hikes or increased inflation, member of the CNB Bank Board Vladimír Tomšík said on Monday. Mr Tomšík said that the Czech National Bank had already demonstrated its determination to fight inflation when last year it raised the key two-week repo rate four times to a five-year’s maximum of 3.5 percent. This year, the Bank Board will be dealing with interest rates on February 7, and it is generally expected to raise the interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point. By then the Czech National Bank will also have the new quarterly inflation prediction.
The Czech Republic has won an international arbitrage over the privatisation of the Nová Huť steel works in Ostrava, North Moravia. An international court of arbitration in Paris ruled on Tuesday that the state does not have pay approximately six billion crowns, or mo re than 335 million US dollars, to the Petrcíle Company which sued the Czech Republic for terminating the company’s pre-emptive contract in the late 1990s.
A government reform plan for the Czech intelligence services should see their number reduced from four to two, the news website Aktualne.cz reported on Tuesday. The Czech Republic currently has both an army and a civilian branch of intelligence and counter-intelligence services which fall under the defence and interior ministries, respectively. The reform is expected to merge the military and civilian branches which should be directly answerable to the government. No lay-offs are expected in the overhaul which should save funds by merging the logistic facilities of the services.
Members of the K213 club blocked the entrance to the Office for International Legal Protection of Children in Brno on Monday, preventing its director Lenka Pavlová from coming to work. The K231 Club, named after a paragraph of the Czech Penal Code which deals with divorced parents’ duties towards their children, associates divorced fathers prevented by courts from seeing their children. They claim that as a former member of several Czech feminist organisations Ms. Pavlova defended ideas which are in conflict with the government’s equal opportunities policy.
Cinemas in the Czech Republic received 1.2 billion crowns, or more than 66 million US dollars, in revenues last year, the highest amount in history. 12.8 million people went to see at least one movie in 2007, which was 1.3 million moviegoers more as compared to the previous year. The two films with top box office ratings in 2007 were both Czech – Vratné láhve, or Empties, and I Served the King of England.
A 19-year-old Czech man was sentenced to life imprisonment in Ireland on Monday for the brutal murder of a 37-year-old mother of two. The man dragged his victim into a derelict house in the town of Longford, where he raped her and strangled her. He told the police he wanted to steal her handbag. The murderer was captured after the police traced the victim’s mobile phone which the man used to pay off his debt.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer said on Monday he had succeeded in bringing down the number of police wire-tapping by 30 percent in 2007 as compared to the previous year. He said this was the result of strict supervision and a new work methodology. As an opposition politician Mr. Langer frequently criticized what he called an excessive use of wire-tapping under the Social Democrat government and promised to amend the situation when he took office. The situation was worst in 2004 when the police registered over 10,000 cases. In 2006 they were down to 7,600 and last year they dropped to 5, 548.