Austrian activists blocked a border crossing between Austria and the Czech Republic on Saturday afternoon in protest of the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power plant, which was given the go-ahead for full operation by the Czech State Authority for Nuclear Energy on Monday. Temelin has long been a bone of contention for demonstrators who believe authorities have not reduced safety problems at the plant. Saturday's demonstration, which began around noon, did not see any involvement by Czechs.
Two Czech TV crew members - a journalist and a cameraman - faced
complications on Saturday while trying to complete a report on upcoming
Parliamentary elections in Belarus. The two were stopped by police at
the headquarters of the central electoral commission while taping the
story of a candidate who had been struck from the ballot list. The two
Czechs were asked by local police to hand over taped footage, which
they refused, seeking help from members of an independent journalists'
Czech TV has since commented the incident as a routine hitch in Belarus, a country ruled by strong-arm president Alexander Lukashenko.
15-year-old Czech tennis player Nicole Vaidisova has made it to a WTA
final for the second time in her career. On Saturday the Czech player
downed American opponent Meghann Shaughnessy in three sets in her
semi-final at the Tashkent Open in Uzbekistan, winning the last set on
a tie-break. On Sunday she will face Virginia Razzano of France.
Ms Vaidisova currently ranks 103 in the women's rankings: a win on Sunday would see her earn 140, 000 U.S. dollars.
Run-offs in Senate by-elections for the Prague 4 and Znojmo
constituencies have resulted in victories for Frantisek Prihoda, of the
right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, who earned 60 percent of the
ballot, and Milan Spacek, candidate for the Christian Democrats, who
got 53 percent. Defeated were Social Democrat Erazim Kohak, in Prague
4, and Civic Democrat Jaroslav Parik, in Znojmo.
The final ballot count indicates a very low overall voter turn-out: just 14.5 percent of those eligible showed up to cast their vote.
The government's draft budget for 2005 has been passed in the first reading by the Chamber of Deputies. The budget envisages a deficit of 83.6 billion crowns. Ninety-nine of the 194 deputies present for Friday's vote supported the draft budget. Further debate on the proposed budget will take place later this year, after it has been discussed in detail by various Chamber committees.
The German president, Horst Kohler - in Prague for a one-day visit on Friday - said he would welcome a gesture from the Czech Republic towards Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. Mr Kohler added, however, that it was not his place to interfere or put forward demands. Meanwhile, his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus said it was a purely Czech matter. Last month the Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, said he was in favour of a "humanitarian gesture" towards the Sudeten Germans.
Czech Airlines is to acquire 12 European-made Airbus planes between 2006 and 2008. The head of CSA, Jaroslav Tvrdik, said on Friday that the airline had managed to get a better deal than expected from Airbus, who defeated United States company Boeing in the tender. Czech Airlines will pay 10 to 12.5 billion crowns for the planes in a leasing deal which will be completed in 2020.
If the Czech Republic fails to introduce mandatory retirement savings plans as part of the reform of the pension system, it will soon find itself bankrupt, according to leading Czech economists. During a presentation of the basic parameters of pension reform on Thursday, economic analyst David Marek estimated that the Czech Republic will accumulate a debt of 280 percent of its GDP in the next fifty years, and 1000 percent by 2075, if mandatory savings plans are not enforced. The planned reform of the pension system is scheduled for 2006. The country's debt currently totals 40 percent of the GDP.