Former Czech president Václav Havel has received a German award for his
part in the unification of Germany and Europe. Mr Havel was presented with
the Point-Alpha Prize at the German Embassy in Prague on Tuesday. It is
named after a Cold War era US military observation post on the border
between East and West Germany. Mr Havel led the Velvet Revolution in
Czechoslovakia and became president of the country in 1990.
On Tuesday, Prague’s Germany Embassy also marked the 19th anniversary of the first wave of East Germans fleeing to the west through the embassy in 1989.
Shares on the Prague Stock Exchange seesawed on Tuesday. In the first
since US lawmakers rejected a proposed financial rescue deal, share prices
on the main PX index tumbled by 6 percent on Tuesday morning. However, the
decline in share values was later reversed, and prices at the close of
trading were just 0.07 percent below those on Monday evening.
The Czech National Bank reiterated on Tuesday that the Czech economy was relatively isolated from the ongoing financial crisis, saying there was no reason for disquiet.
Banks in the Czech Republic have started limiting the repayment period for loans to one another to a week, the newspaper Hospodařské noviny reported. However, Czech banks have enough cash to finance themselves, by contrast with those in a number of other countries. One analyst told Hospodařské noviny the worst banks in the Czech Republic could expect was a slow-down in profits.
The Czech government is opposed to an EU plan to give free fruit and vegetables to schoolchildren, the minister of agriculture, Petr Gandalovič, said on Tuesday. However, if the European Commission succeeds in having the project (which is aimed at fighting child obesity) accepted, the Czech Republic will take part, Mr Gandalovič said. Individual countries would have to pay for the fruit and vegetables given out in their school system. Two weeks ago the Czech Senate said a campaign to promote healthy eating would be a better approach than actually handing out fruit and veg.
The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, says a project to renovate the Bohemian National Hall in New York has on the whole been a success. Speaking in the city a month ahead of the building’s official opening, Mr Schwarzenberg said, however, that the work could have been done more quickly and more cheaply. The Czech state took control of the building on the Upper East Side in 2001 and since then has invested several hundred million crowns in its complete renovation. The Czech Centre, the Czech general consulate and other Czech bodies will make their homes in the Bohemian National Hall once it opens in mid-October.
One of four new recordings of the Czech national anthem made on the initiative of the Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, includes the sound of somebody coughing, Lidové noviny reported. The newspaper said it appeared sound engineers had not noticed the coughing during the version of the anthem performed by opera singer Adam Plachetka. The mistake was noticed by a listener who downloaded the music from the internet.
The Czech Republic is planning to donate at least CZK 150 million (over USD 8.5 million) to Georgia, Deputy Foreign Minister Tomáš Pojar said at a seminar on the situation in the country on Tuesday. The actual sum to be donated will be made clear at a donors’ conference in Brussels in October, Mr Pojar said. The Czech Republic has been critical of Russia regarding the recent conflict in the Caucuses, and was one of the initiators of the conference to raise aid for Georgia.
The cabinet is to discuss financial compensation for people who were not allowed to study at university following the communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948. The amount they could receive will be discussed by ministers on Wednesday, the head of the government’s legislative council, Cyril Svoboda, told reporters. Mr Svoboda said only those who were barred from third level education in the years 1948 to 1953 (or possibly 1956) would be eligible for compensation. He said those would-be students met the cruellest fates, as they were sent to prison or into forced labour; in later years the communist state did not mete out such harsh treatment, he said. Mr Svoboda said the proposal could affect hundreds of now elderly people. Over 10,000 students and academics were thrown out of Czechoslovakia’s universities within a year of the communist takeover.
There should be a seven-fold increase in the amount of electricity produced by wind power stations in the Czech Republic next year, Stanislav Trávníček of the country’s energy regulation office said at a conference on Tuesday. When output increases from the current 100 gigawatts a year to 700 gigawatts a year in 2009, wind power will account for almost one percent of the electricity produced in the Czech Republic
The Supreme Court ordered on Monday a new investigation of alleged corruption related to the Czech army’s deals for the renovation of military airports. Several senior army officers were accused in 1999 of preferential treatment of certain construction firms which received deals to renovate military airports and service equipment. In 2007, a court in Prague shelved the case but two of the accused still filed a complaint with the Supreme Court. The case will now go back to the Municipal Court in Prague.
Czech Prime Minister, and head of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolánek addressed Britain’s Conservative Party conference in Birmingham on Monday. In his speech, Mr Topolánek said that a new conservative fraction in the European Parliament, consisting mainly of British Conservative and Czech Civic Democrat MEPs, may be established if the next elections turn our favourably. The Czech PM also mentioned several points the two parties had in common, including a cautious view on the adoption of the euro.