The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, has taken a reserved stand to the
outcome of Thursday’s EU summit dealing with assistance to debt-stricken
Greece. Shortly after the summit, Mr Fischer told journalists that EU
leaders stopped short of making a specific commitment to Greece and even
failed to debate concrete forms of aid. The Czech prime minister said the
main purpose of the joint declaration, adopted by the summit, was to
the world’s financial markets. Ahead of the summit, however, Mr Fischer
said the EU was bound to help Greece one way or another.
Meanwhile, finance ministers of the eurozone’s member states agreed in Brussels on Thursday that some EU members might buy Greek bonds or provide direct loans on bilateral basis, provided Greece takes radical steps to cut public spending.
Heavy snow disrupted traffic and caused accidents in many parts of the Czech Republic on Thursday. The D5 motorway linking Prague with the German border saw several accidents resulting in traffic jams in the morning. Several trucks slid off the road near the city of Plzeň, while police closed one lane of the motorway due to a truck accident near Stříbro. In Prague, a pile-up occurred on a section of the city’s ring road, halting traffic for several hours. An emergency has been declared in parts of eastern Bohemia with some minor roads closed for traffic. Several train lines in eastern and northern Bohemia and northern Moravia are also temporarily suspended. More snow is expected across the country in the coming days.
The British Embassy in Prague confirmed on Thursday Prince Charles’s upcoming visit to the Czech Republic. The British royal will arrive in the Czech capital in mid March, after visiting Poland and Hungary. Prince Charles will be accompanied by his wife Camilla, and is set to meet with Czech president Václav Klaus. The heir to the British throne will also spend a day in the Moravian capital of Brno. Prince Charles has previously visited the Czech Republic four times.
Former Czech president Václav Havel is recovering from a respiratory
tract infection, an aide to Mr Havel said on Thursday. The 73-year-old
ex-president, who came down with the infection on Monday, is taking
antibiotics and continues his recovery at home. His engagements for the
whole of next week have been cancelled.
In 1996, Mr Havel had part of his right lung removed due to cancer. He has since often suffered from infections of the respiratory tract. Last January, the former head of state spent two weeks in hospital with serious throat infection.
After several hours of heated debate, the lower house of the Czech Parliament failed on Thursday to tighten rules on anonymous shareholding. The proposal, put forward by the Social Democrats, and the Greens, should ban issuing shares to anonymous persons. Supporters of the move claim that anonymous shareholding is often abused for money laundering. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats, who oppose the plan, are concerned that it would interfere with ownership rights. Tightening the rules on shareholding has been recommended by several of the country’s anti-corruption watchdogs, including Transparency International.
Czech senators Jaromír Štětina and Karel Schwarzenberg voiced support on Thursday for Timur Borchashvili, a Chechen with a Georgian passport, who had been twice denied asylum in the Czech Republic. Senator Štetina pointed out that Mr Borchashvili was a friend of the Chechen leader Aslan Maschadov. Mr Štetina also accused the Czech intelligence service, BIS, of working with the Russian intelligence to bar Mr Borchashvili’s petition. Timur Borchashvili’s EU visa expired on February 7, and he went into hiding to avoid deportation. Meanwhile, Czech Interior Minister Martin Pecina said on Thursday that if Mr Borchashvili re-applies for asylum, his permission to stay in the Czech Republic may be extended.
Dutch beer producer Heineken is planning to construct a new bottling line
in its Starobrno brewery in the Moravian city of Brno, the Czech news
agency ČTK reported on Thursday. The new line, which will increase the
brewery’s bottling capacity to 1.7 million hectolitres a year, should be
finished in May. The line will be manufactured by the German firm KHS, and
will use plastic PET bottles. The brewery is also expected to hire some
Heineken is the third largest beer maker in the Czech Republic, with a 12 percent share of the market. Last year, Heineken-owned breweries produced 2.8 million hectolitres of beer.
A group of prosecutors filed a lawsuit with a Prague court on Thursday
against a 4-percent drop in their salaries, demanding a reimbursement for
January. They also petitioned the judges to submit the lawsuit to the
Constitutional Court since they believe the cut in salaries breached their
Last year, the government lowered the salaries of all constitutional officials including judges and prosecutors by 4 percent, as part of the cabinet’s cost-cutting measures. The government originally planned for a 4-percent drop in the salaries of all state employees; however, the proposal was eventually rejected by Parliament.
Industrial production in the Czech Republic dropped by 13.4 percent in 2009, according to government figures released on Thursday. However, last December registered an increase in industry output of 1.8 percent year on year. The plunge was mainly driven by a drop in machinery production which plunged by more than 27 percent. The country’s automobile industry decreased by 10.2 percent last year. The average monthly wages in Czech industrial firms rose by 3.6 percent to nearly 24,000 crowns, or 1,200 US dollars.
Czech pop singer Helena Vondráčková lost a court case on Thursday against the Czech Justice Ministry. The singer demanded compensation to the tune of 14 million crowns, or more than 730,000 US dollars, for delays in four other lawsuits she filed against some of the country’s tabloid media for slander. The court acknowledged that her claim was justified in one of the four cases, and granted Ms Vondráčková 900 crowns, or 47 US dollars in compensation.