The country’s Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has said that the finance ministry is currently working within an estimate of between 0 to 2 percent negative growth of the GDP in 2009, as a result of the continuing global economic crisis. He made the comment on a Sunday TV debate programme, adding that a minus two-percent drop would see a state budget deficit of between 110 and 120 billion crowns. This year’s state budget, passed in December, originally estimated on GDP growth of 4.8 percent, with a deficit if 38.1 billion crowns. In January, after the country was hit by the crisis, the ministry first revised its numbers downward to 1.4 percent.
The Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer and the European Commission’s Vice President for Justice, Freedom and Security Jacques Barrot are set to officially visit the US on Monday. Over two days they will meet with the US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano as well Justice Minister Eric Holder to discuss a number of key issues, including US plans for prisoners detained at Guantanamo Bay. It has been suggested that some could eventually be relocated to facilities in Europe, possibly the Czech Republic, after the Guantanamo detention centre is shut down. Other topics on the agenda during Messrs Langer’s and Barrot’s visit will be visa policy, migration and border security.
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has said that the country’s Supreme Administrative Court sent a negative signal when it ruled not to ban the ultra right-wing Workers’ Party. The party is said to have ties to extremists, including neo-Nazi organisations. Speaking on TV Prima, the prime minister suggested the decision would have a negative impact on similar cases, mentioning a proposed ban on the Communist Party sought by a Senate commission. Over a period of two years the commission - headed by Green Party Senator Jaromír Štetina - gathered circumstantial evidence as proof the country’s Communist Party violated the constitution and failed to honour some laws. The government is now to assess whether to send the matter to court.
A US anti-missile radar base in the Czech Republic may be delayed, Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has said but stressed, in his view, it will eventually be built. Speaking on TV Prima on Sunday, he said the base – part of a broader defence shield proposed by the former US administration – was important for both Europe as well as NATO. Mr Topolánek was asked about the project in connection with the upcoming visit of US President Barack Obama. He said that he did not think Mr Obama would come out against the plan, put forward and strongly supported by his predecessor George W. Bush.
The Czech ultra right-wing Nationalist Party has held a demonstration to remember the start of the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by German troops 70 years ago. On March 15th, 1939 Nazi leader Adolf Hitler proclaimed the country a protectorate. Around twenty members of the Nationalist Party gathered in Prague on Sunday, carrying placards and Czech flags. The event was monitored by police but ended without incident.
The Czech news agency, ČTK, has reported that the state could still have to provide more than 400 billion crowns (roughly 19.3 billion US dollars) in funding for the renovation of the country’s pre-fab apartment buildings – part of its so-called Panel programme. It based the number on an estimate by the head of Association of Czech and Moravian Housing Co-operatives; the number is higher than the 200 – 300 billion projected by the head of the State Fund for Housing Development. There are some 1.2 million pre-fab apartments in the Czech Republic: around 900,000 are in need of renovation, ČTK said.
After Allegro, in Prague’s Four Seasons Hotel last year, a second Prague-based restaurant is reportedly in the running for a prestigious Michelin star. According to reports, La Degustation Boheme Bourgeoise, headed by chef Oldřich Sahajdák, is expected to receive the star in the new edition of Michelin’s Main Cities in Europe. However, industry watchers have suggested others could still surprise. The guide will be published this Wednesday.
Speed skater Martina Sáblíková has won the 5,000 metres in the World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Vancouver, posting the only time of under seven minutes. Her closest rival, Clara Hughes finished more than two seconds behind, while fellow Canadian Kristina Groves was third. Sáblíková has now taken the world championship title in the 5,000 metres three times in a row.
New Jersey Devils’ forward Patrik Eliáš scored a goal and earned one
assist against Montreal on Saturday to help his team clinch a 3-1 win. The
lone Canadiens’ goal came from Tomáš Plekanec – his 20th of the
season. The game was a special one for New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur:
was his 551st win in the National Hockey League, tying the record of
retired goaltending legend Patrick Roy.
In other action, Czech forward Micahel Frolík scored the opening goal for Florida against Tampa Bay, later adding an assist. Despite being down 3-1 at one point Tampa Bay managed to turn the game around, coming back to win 4-3 on penalties.
A top police official has confirmed that three locations in the Czech capital are being considered likely sites for a key European speech by US President Barack Obama. He is scheduled to visit Prague in three weeks. Included among the possible sites is Prague’s Wenceslas Square, which has already been evaluated by an advance team. During his Prague speech, the 44th US president is expected to discuss key topics such as cooperation against terrorism and cooperation in Afghanistan. It is not clear whether he will raise the issue of European missile defence, pursued by his predecessor George W. Bush. While in Prague, Mr Obama will meet with Czech President Václav Klaus, former president Václav Havel, and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek. On the second day of his visit he will also meet with other European leaders at a planned EU-US summit.