By Czech accounting standards CAS Czech Airlines suffered losses of 456 million crowns in the year 2001, while the International Accounting Standards indicate that the carriers profits fell by 57 percent from the previous year. The losses come in reaction to last year's September 11th terrorist attacks, and the international airline crisis that ensued. CSA's yearly profits for 2001 totalled 260 million crowns, or almost 8 million dollars US.
Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and the president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Thomas Dine have met to discuss alternative locations for the U.S.-funded radio station, although both declined to comment on possible sites for the new headquarters just yet. They are waiting to first present a plan to the State Security Office on June 25th. On Thursday Radio Free Europe spokeswoman Sonia Winter indicated that both sides were close to an agreement that would determine a new and safer location for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, than the current headquarters at the top of Prague's busy St Wenceslas Square. RFE / Radio Liberty have been under guard, first by army and now by police units, ever since the September 11th attacks on the U.S. last year.
French conductor Christoph Eschenbach, who was originally meant to conduct the last two concerts at the close of this year's Prague Spring Festival, will not appear due to injury. Earlier this week Mr Eschenbach suffered an injury to his arm, on which he has was operated several months ago. Mr Eschenbach will be replaced by Austrian conductor Has Graf, who will conduct the Czech Philharmonic in a performance of Beethoven's 9th symphony, the traditional close to the Prague Spring music festival.
The mayor of Prague, Jan Kasl, has said the timing of his resignation from the post was in no way related to the upcoming general elections. Mr Kasl announced his resignation on Tuesday, and also said that he was quitting the opposition Civic Democratic Party. He has had several high profile disputes with senior Civic Democrats, including party leader Vaclav Klaus, who called Mr Kasl's resignation a devious move. On Wednesday Prague Civic Democrat councillors accused Mr Kasl of timing his resignation in such a way as to harm the party and Mr Klaus ahead of the mid-June elections.
The human rights group Amnesty International has criticised the Czech Republic for failing to properly investigate claims of police brutality and not providing sufficient protection for members of the Roma minority. In its annual report released on Tuesday, Amnesty said allegations of police brutality during the September 2000 IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague were not investigated properly by the Czech authorities. The Czech courts were also singled out for failing to punish racially-motivated crimes with sufficient sentences.
The mayor of Prague, Jan Kasl, has resigned, and says he no longer wishes to be a member of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. Mr Kasl, who claimed recently that the city council was riddled with corruption, told reporters he no longer wished to share in the responsibility of running the capital, and said he would quit the post on Wednesday. Mr Kasl has at times been an outspoken critic of the Civic Democrat leader, Vaclav Klaus. His resignation comes less than three weeks before the general elections.
The Czech Air Force is on alert after the police received an anonymous threat of a terrorist attack in the second biggest Czech city, Brno. The police said they received an anonymous SMS message threatening with a terrorist attack on three high-rise buildings which are part of a business centre in Brno-Zabovresky and suggesting it might come from the air. The airspace over the city of Brno is now guarded by aircraft from the Caslav air base.
The Czech Republic has become the first of the EU candidate countries to open an office in Brussels aimed at representing Czech businesses and lobbying specific EU political bodies. On Thursday the Czech Ministry for Trade and Industry signed a contract with the Czechtrade agency and several business associations to take charge of the Brussels office, which is expected to cost 4 to 5 million crowns in its first year. In addition to lobbying the European Union, the three-member Brussels office will also work to provide information on the EU to small and medium-sized Czech companies.
The European Parliament's foreign affairs committee has toned down its criticism of the Czech Republic over the so-called Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of some two and a half million ethnic Germans after the Second World War. The committee approved a draft resolution on Wednesday saying only that if a legal review of the decrees uncovered any form of discrimination, the decrees should be abolished before the country joins the EU. Politicians in Austria and Germany have called for the decrees to be abolished before the Czech Republic is allowed to join the EU.