The centre-right government will press ahead with reforms aimed at reducing the deficit in public spending, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said in an address to the annual Žofín economics forum in Prague. In the years 2013-2014 the government aims to bring the deficit in public spending under 3 percent of GDP and, if the economy grows, the country could achieve a balanced budget by 2016. Mr. Nečas said that pushing through austerity measures to achieve this was a thankless task which undermined the cabinet’s popularity with the public, but he said he was determined to see it through. The 129th Žofín Forum is focussing on the state of the Czech economy, the government-proposed reforms for the coming years and their possible impact.
Likewise speaking at the Žofín forum the governor of the Czech National Bank Miroslav Singer said that in his view the Czech Republic would not be ready to adopt the euro before 2017. He said that a serious debate on euro adoption could start in 2014 or 2015 once the country had got its own finances in order and expected negotiations to last for approximately two years. Although the Czech Republic has not set a target date for euro adoption Prime Minister Necas said euro adoption was still on the agenda.
A week of events marking the 35th anniversary of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto has kicked off in Prague. The series of special events organized by former dissidents and Charter 77 signatories includes exhibitions, seminars and a series of special performances of the late Vaclav Havel´s plays. A photo exhibition at the plaza of the National Theatre is called “Prague through the lens of the secret service” and is a compilation of photographs the communist secret police made in the process of spying on and following dissidents. Charter 77 week is also intended to honour the memory of philosopher and Charter 77 spokesman Jan Patočka who became the first victim of the communist backlash against the Charter 77 manifesto. He was arrested and died of a stroke shortly after undergoing an 11-hour interrogation by the communist secret police.
The Plzen law faculty which unexpectedly received an extended 4-year lease on life from Education Minister Josef Dobeš on Friday says it will not take in new students without getting a green light from the ministry. The faculty’s right to take in new students was put on hold last year as it awaited the verdict of the Czech Accreditation Commission regarding its future. However after the Accreditation Commission refused to extend the faculty’s accreditation past this autumn, the education minister unexpectedly countered the order, extending the law faculty’s undergraduate programme until 2016 in order to give some 1800 students the chance to finish their education at their alma mater. The decision has come under fire from lawyers and the head of the Accreditation Commission Vladimíra Dvořáková said she would take the matter to court.
The Association for Integration and Migration is fighting for the rights of foreign nationals who work as house-cleaners helpers and maids in the Czech Republic. In a campaign called “Do you know who cleans your house?” the association points to the fact that many of the approximately 27, 000 foreign employees from non-EU member states are heavily exploited by home cleaning services. Fearful of losing their jobs, many work for less than the minimal wage, are maltreated and even sexually harassed. The campaign targets both the public with an appeal for people to be more vigilant and the foreign workers themselves informing them about the existence of a help-line where they can seek advice.
The legendary 1933 US Double Eagle, the most expensive gold coin ever sold on auction, is to be shown in Prague over the next two days. The coin which is on a seven-nation European tour arrived in Prague on Sunday amidst tight security. The coin is to be shown to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday at Prague’s National Museum. This is the first time that a 1933 double eagle has been publicly exhibited in Europe and the artefact has incited enormous interest. In July 2002 one single 1933 Double Eagle gold coin was sold for a staggering 7, 6 million dollars. The precious gold coin is touring: London, Dublin, Brussels, Prague, Warsaw, Oslo and Helsinki.
According to the results of a poll conducted by the CVVM agency 96 percent of Czechs fear a global economic crisis and perceive it as a greater threat than organized crime which received a 91 percent rating. 87 percent of respondents said they feared a natural disaster and a similar number of respondents said they feared a terrorist attack. Only 18 percent of respondents said they feared a possible war.
The Supreme Court has upheld a 12 and two 14 year sentences handed to three men who were found guilty of murdering an 18- year-old girl who would not be forced into prostitution. The girl was brutally beaten up, strangled and her body was thrown into a nearby lake. Although two of the men pleaded innocent the third broke down and related how she had been killed. An autopsy showed that the girl died of suffocation by strangling, but the culprits were unsure and tied her arms and legs before throwing her body into the lake.
Police are searching for a pensioner who used his crutches to beat a man senseless in a fit of rage in the Prague metro. Camera footage of the incident has appeared on some news websites showing the two men exchanging words at the bottom of the escalator and the pensioner raising first one crutch and then another and dealing strong blows to the head of the other passenger. The victim is seen falling to the ground where he remains inert while the pensioner strides away. The incident happened on January 27th and the police have now asked the public for help in the search for the aggressor.
Czech football national side captain Tomas Rosicky on Monday signed a new contract with England’s Arsenal. The club did not specify the length of the contract saying it was delighted that Rosicky had committed to the club at a time when he was enjoying a great run of form, which has seen him score twice in the last three games, against Tottenham Hotspur and AC Milan. Rosicky joined Arsenal in May of 2006.