The Czech ice hockey team have left for Vienna, where they are hoping to win the sport's World Championships for the first time in four years. The Czechs were beaten 2:1 by Canada in their last warm up game in Prague on Thursday evening. Their first match at the World Championships is against Switzerland on Sunday.
The Czech Republic is to provide 4.5 million Czech crowns (almost 200,000 US dollars) towards the renewal of a national park in Chile, which was badly damaged in a forest fire started accidentally by a Czech tourist. Over 11,000 hectares of the Torres del Paine park were destroyed in February's fire. The Chilean authorities say it will take more than 7 million US dollars and over a decade to repair the damage.
Britain's Prince Edward is to visit in July a Czech golf club which is the only club outside the United Kingdom allowed to call itself "royal". The club, in the spa town of Marianske Lazne, was opened by his great-great-great-grandfather King Edward VII in 1905. The king became the club's first listed member and visited 10 times over the following four years.
Meanwhile, the president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, has defended two leading MEPs who recently criticised the Czech president for his opposition to the European Constitution. Mr Klaus called for an apology after Alejo Vidal-Quadras and Jo Leinen said he was misleading Czech voters on the issue, and could lead the Czech Republic into isolation. On Friday the Czech president refused to react to Mr Borrell's statement, saying it was an insufficient response to a letter of complaint he had sent to the president of the European Parliament.
Students of Prague's Charles University are planning to protest in May against increases in the cost of halls of residence, Pravo reported on Friday. The current monthly rent of around 1,000 Czech crowns (just over 40 US dollars) is set to at least double, due to a change in the grants system. The students are planning to demonstrate at both the Office of the Government and the Education Ministry, and will call for the resignation of Minister Petra Buzkova, said the daily.
The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for the removal of a pig farm from the site of a Nazi concentration camp near the south Bohemian village of Lety. Over 1,200 Czech Romanies were interned there in 1942 before being sent to Auschwitz. Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Friday he would be in favour of removing the pig farm, while President Vaclav Klaus said it was a matter for the Czech Republic, not the EU. Mr Klaus said most MEPs did not have enough information about the issue.
The Czech National Bank on Thursday unexpectedly cut interest rates to their lowest level ever, with the key repo rate down by a quarter percentage point to 1.75 percent, a spokeswoman for the bank has said. Analysts say the cuts will weaken the crown for a longer period, bringing down the costs of credits and mortgages.
The Czech car maker Skoda will invest more than 100 million euros (129 million dollars) into its Kvasiny plant for the launch of its new Roomster model next year, the company's board chairman said on Thursday. The company, part of the Volkswagen group, intends to launch production of the vehicle early next year and the car will go on sale in the second half of 2006. The expanded facility will create another 2,000 jobs at the plant in Kvasiny, east Bohemia. It currently employs more than 1,200 people. The plant already manufactures Skoda's top-of-the-range Superb vehicle.
A poll conducted by the Factum agency suggests that the recent government crisis has caused support for the ruling Social Democrats to drop by more than four percent but did not affect the coalition Christian Democrats. The opposition Civic Democrats top the poll with 35 percent of voter support. The opposition Communist Party, with some 26 percent, would become the second strongest party in parliament, if elections were held tomorrow.
A European Parliament report adopted on Thursday says that Hungary, Lithuania and Poland have done best in adopting European Union legislation but the Czech Republic is bottom of the new class. The report showed all 10 countries which joined the bloc last May have done better than critics forecast in implementing the 1,579 directives related to the EU single market. It says that the Czech Republic has yet to transpose 9.6 percent of EU legislation into national law, improve laws on recognition of professional qualifications, implement EU legislation on equal treatment of men and women at work and improve legislation on the protection of personal data.
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