Czech Transport Minister Gustav Slámečka told Parliament’s budget committee on Thursday that, due to cost-cutting measures introduced across the board, road construction in the Czech Republic would have to be severely curbed. This includes halting work on a new stretch of the D1 motorway to Ostrava and the motorway’s planned extension to Vienna. Altogether work will stop on 300 roads and motorways across the country in the coming months and up to 200,000 construction workers could lose their jobs. Conservation work alone is expected to cost five billion crowns.
National carrier Czech Airlines (ČSA) slated for privatisation by the end
of September, on Thursday announced a heavy first-quarter loss caused by a
record decline in passenger numbers. The company posted pre-tax losses of
1.318 billion crowns (68.2 million dollars) as passenger numbers shrank by
an annual 12 percent to 945,000 amid the global crisis. Company president
Radomír Lasák said management had revised the company's financial plan
for this year as well as for 2010.
ČSA has implemented cost-cutting measures in recent months, shedding its cargo terminal near Prague and its catering unit. It has a fleet of 51 planes and travels to 68 destinations in 40 countries.
Czechs consider elections to the European Parliament less important than general, regional and local elections, according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency. The poll shows that two-thirds of Czechs consider local elections the most significant, followed by general elections. Czechs elected their MEPs for the first time in June 2004, a month after the country joined the EU. The election turnout was only 28.3 percent. The EP election turnout has been dropping in all member states. The average turnout in the previous elections was 46 percent.
Czech top model Tereza Maxová gave birth to a daughter in Prague on Thursday, the CTK news agency reported. Maxová has appeared on the cover of Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire. She has modelled for designers such as Chanel, Dior, Prada, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Ralph Lauren. In 1997, she set up the Tereza Maxová Foundation to support underprivileged children brought up in children’s homes and foster families. Since its formation, the foundation has distributed more than 130 million crowns in aid of this cause. Maxová divides her time between Prague and Monaco.
The European Union and China have agreed to increase co-operation in the
field of environmentally friendly development with a view to decreasing
greenhouse gases. At a summit at Prague Castle on Wednesday afternoon, held
as part of the Czech Republic’s six-month presidency of the EU, the two
sides also signed a science and technology partnership that European
officials hope will reduce copyright piracy in China, and a joint statement
on an EU-China clean energy centre. The meeting, chaired by Czech President
Václav Klaus, was attended by China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao,
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU foreign policy
chief Javier Solana.
The last scheduled EU-China meeting was cancelled in December over Beijing’s opposition to a meeting between Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, when France held the rotating EU presidency.
At a news conference after Wednesday’s summit, Czech President Václav Klaus said human rights would be part of the “strategic dialogue” between the EU and China. For his part, Prime Minister Wen said the most important thing was to preserve the principles of mutual respect and non-interference in one another’s internal affairs.
Official campaigning has begun in the Czech Republic ahead of elections to
the European Parliament being held on June 5 and 6. The 33 parties standing
have been presenting their manifestos, while public broadcasters Czech
Television and Czech Radio will feature the groups’ campaign ads between
now and June 2. A poll conducted by STEM for Czech Television suggested
that parties’ ability to deal with the financial crisis will be the main
criterion for voters in the June polls. Meanwhile, another survey by the
same agency indicated 24.2 percent of voters would cast their ballots for
the Social Democrats, while 20.9 percent would back their biggest rivals,
the Civic Democrats.
Some 27 percent of Czech voters turned out in elections to the European Parliament in 2004, soon after the Czech Republic joined the EU.
Czech Television is planning to file a lawsuit against the neo-Nazi National Party after the group sent the station a racist campaign ad promising the “final solution of the Gypsy problem”, the news website novinky.cz reported. Czech TV broadcast the clip on Wednesday, because legally they had no choice, a spokesperson said. Both Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb condemned the election spot and called on the minister of the interior, Jan Pecina, to order an investigation into the matter.
A caretaker Czech government due to lead the country until early general
elections will not send the issue of a planned US radar base to the lower
house of parliament, the Czech foreign minister, Jan Kohout, told
Wednesday’s edition of the newspaper Lidové noviny. Mr Kohout said the
subject was not on the interim government’s agenda and would be dealt
with by whoever is elected in October. While the Senate approved Czech-US
treaties allowing for the placing of a radar base in central Bohemia,
ex-prime minister Mirek Topolánek withdrew the matter from the agenda of
the Chamber of Deputies due to a lack of support.
It is not clear whether America plans to go ahead with the construction of an anti-missile shield project developed by the previous administration. In Prague in April President Barack Obama merely reiterated his previous position that it could go ahead if it was proven to work and was cost effective, and if a threat from Iran remained.