Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas travelled to the Slovak capital of
Bratislava on Monday for his first official visit since taking office
weeks ago. The Czech prime minister met his Slovak counterpart, Iveta
Radičová, for talks. The two discussed the economy, energy security and
regional cooperation. The Czech prime minister underlined that the two
newly formed coalition governments shared similar priorities of cutting
their budget deficits and said that European rules to curb deficits should
now be enforced. Mr. Nečas also met Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič.
The Czech and Slovak prime ministers will on Tuesday travel to Budapest for a meeting of the four strong Visegrad Group which also includes Poland and Hungary. In Hungary, Mr Nečas will hold bilateral meetings with his Polish and Hungarian counterparts.
Police said on Monday that 294 people had died on Czech roads during the first half of the year. That is the lowest figure for the first six months of the year for the last 21 years. During the same period in 2009 the number of victims was 86 higher. The latest figures follow on from a sharp rise in road deaths accompanying the start of the summer holidays. Overall, the death toll has been falling for several years now with last year’s total for the first half year under 400 for the first time. In the first six months of 1990 640 people died on the roads.
Around two-fifths of the people who voted for the Public Affairs party in May’s lower house elections did so not out of any great conviction but only because they saw the party as the lesser evil. That is one of the findings of a poll carried out by the STEM agency whose results were released on Monday. The results were not much better for the other newcomer party, TOP 09, with around half of those polled saying they had a weak or very weak relationship with the party. Most of the longer established parties fared better with over two-thirds saying they had a strong or very strong identification with them. Elections at the end of May were narrowly won by the Social Democrats but the second placed Civic Democrats formed a coalition with TOP 09 and Public Affairs.
International credit ratings agency Moody’s has said it could improve its evaluation of the Czech Republic if the new centre-right coalition government delivers on its pledge to cut the budget deficit. The news was given by one of the company’s analysts in an interview with the Bloomberg news agency. The Czech Republic currently has an A1 rating with a stable outlook, the same as that of neighbour Slovakia and Estonia, which is soon to adopt the single currency euro. The Czech rating is two notches lower than the absolute top triple ‘A’ rating. The new government has pledged to cut the budget deficit to 3.0 percent of Gross Domestic Product by 2013.
Homes in Western Bohemia have been reconnected to the grid after weekend storms left tens of thousands without power. The worst affected districts were around Karlovy Vary, Tachov and northern Plzeň where high winds downed trees and power cables on Saturday. One person was killed by a falling tree. At one stage around half of the region was without power. Storms also caused flooding in parts of the centre and east of the country with rivers still at flood danger levels around the east Bohemian town Chrudim on Monday morning.
The Ministry of Environment server dealing with its Green Saving energy efficiency programme suffered repeated problems on Monday after it was widened to allow applications for grants from regional, town and local councils. Problems began soon after 6 am when mayors and other officials started to log on the server to lodge internet applications for funds. Some voiced fears they could miss out on funds if the quota for applications was filled before they could file theirs online. The efficiency saving programme has around 25 billion crowns to spend by the end of 2012.
Drunken Baník Ostrava football fans ransacked train carriages taking them back from their opening league fixture against Příbram on Sunday night. Fans ripped down curtains, smashed a window and broke a sink in the toilets. Two fans were also arrested following an assault upon a policeman. Czech Railways estimated the damage at around 25,000 crowns. The match between the two teams, which passed without incident, was earmarked as high risk following violence in May when 25 fans were detained.
Prague Civic Democrats could opt for an independent, non-aligned candidate for mayor in local elections in October. Prague Civic Democrat chairman Boris Šťastný said that is one of the options that party bosses are considering. The party’s regional council is expected to come up with a name to head the party’s list in the Czech capital at a meeting at the start of August. Mr. Šťastný refused to mention any names for the moment. The Civic Democrats are under pressure after TOP 09 last week named former central bank governor Zdeněk Tůma as its candidate for mayor in the upcoming elections. TOP 09 scored better than the Civic Democrats in Prague in elections to the lower house of parliament in May as voter disillusion eroded support in what has been a party bastion.
Conservationists began Monday to scythe water meadows at a reserve around 10 miles from the central city of Třebíč. The annual action is aimed at preserving the meadows which are a refuge for rare orchids and other plants. Invasive trees, such as the willow, were also removed. The conservation work, which will last around two weeks, also attracts international volunteers with some from as far as South Korea visiting in the past. This year, some have come from Germany.
Slavia Prague football team’s modern Eden stadium has no building permission to host concerts according to the local council. The finding surfaced on Monday, a day before the stadium is due to host a concert by the American pop singer Pink. The council added the stadium did not meet the required noise regulations for concerts. It said it could not stop the event but could impose a fine. The owners of the stadium have contested the council’s interpretation saying that they are authorised to stage cultural events. Last year the stadium hosted a concert by Depeche Mode.