Prague’s High Court has ordered Miroslav Macek to pay David Rath CZK 100,000 in damages for slapping Mr Rath on the back of the head on stage at a medical conference in 2006. Mr Macek, a former Civic Democrat politician, had previously been ordered to publicly apologise to Mr Rath, a Social Democrat MP and the governor of Central Bohemia. Tuesday’s verdict cannot be appealed. The incident, which was followed by a short scuffle, was seen on video by many people around the world; it was the culmination of a spat between the two that started when Mr Rath publicly accused Mr Macek of marrying for money.
The power giant ČEZ will charge households and firms at least 6 percent less for electricity in 2010, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. That would represent the biggest drop in 20 years. However, ČEZ could reduce prices by up to 13 percent, if wholesale energy prices continue to fall, the newspaper said. The company is set to launch an advertising campaign entitled ČEZ against the Crisis and For Helping the Czech Economy.
The Chamber of Deputies is expected to vote on ratifying the European
Union’s Lisbon treaty on Tuesday evening. The Czech News Agency reported
that most of the parties in the lower house were in favour of holding a
vote, after a debate on the matter was postponed twice, once in December
and once two weeks ago. It is expected some euro-sceptic MPs from the
ruling Civic Democrats will not vote in favour, along with the Communists,
who are pushing for a referendum. The Senate is due to vote on Lisbon
ratification in April.
Even if both houses of Parliament back the ratification of the Lisbon treaty, the Czech president, Václav Klaus, has indicated he will not sign the document unless it is approved by Ireland; Irish voters rejected Lisbon in a referendum last June and are due to vote on it again this year.
The Czech president, Václav Klaus, has described the government’s new
fiscal stimulus package as rational and adequate. However, in a statement
conveyed by a spokesperson, the president said no rescue package could
protect the Czech Republic from the impacts of a global recession. Mr
Klaus, an economist by profession, said the plan was strong on the supply
side of the economy and did not threaten the stability of the public
finances. He said it would be good if further measures were added,
including de-regulation in the business sector.
The government approved the stimulus package on Monday. It must now go before the Chamber of Deputies, where the coalition does not enjoy a secure majority.
Under new legislation which comes into effect on Monday, foreigners who have lost their job as a result of the Czech economic downturn will be able to claim a free plane ticket home and 500 euros expenses from the Czech government. Interior Minister Ivan Langer has said that he hopes around 2000 foreign workers will take up the government’s offer in the next eight months. The government predicts that up to 12,000 foreign workers could lose their jobs in the next couple of months. The Interior Ministry has set aside 60.7 million crowns (2.6 million USD) in a bid to encourage these foreigners to return home. Interior Minister Ivan Langer has said that rising unemployment rates amongst foreigners could lead to an increase in organized crime, while human rights groups say that the government’s plan will prove ineffective.
The body of a Czech hiker who disappeared in the Tatra Mountains in Slovakia on Friday has been found, Slovak rescue workers told the press on Monday. The search for the missing tourist was complicated by heavy snowfall over the weekend. Three other Czechs got lost in adverse conditions in the Slovak hills on Saturday, but managed to make their way back to base on Sunday after a night in the open. Mountain rescuers have warned of more bad weather to come in the Tatras over the next couple of days.
The Czech Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Jan Winkler, died suddenly on Monday, aged 51. A spokesperson for the Czech Foreign Ministry said that the Czech Republic had lost one of its most capable diplomats. Mr Winkler died of natural causes. The Foreign Ministry said that it had already sent a letter of condolence to his family. Mr Winkler became Czech Ambassador to Britain in 2005. He served at the Foreign Ministry in Prague between 2003 and 2005.
The crown’s value continued to plummet on Monday with the currency hitting a three-year low against the euro, trading at 29 crowns to the euro. The crown has lost 26 percent of its value against the euro in the last year, according to analyst Jiří Šimek from consultants Citco. The crown also fell against the dollar to 22.7 crowns/ USD. The Czech crown currently ranks amongst one of the fastest falling currencies in the world, reports the news website Novinky.cz. According to analysts, a rising rate of unemployment and a drop in industrial production is being mirrored in the currency’s fall.
The anti-crisis plan that the government approved on Monday will cost some 40.5 billion crowns (197 million USD), Hospodářské noviny has reported. The newspaper wrote that Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek fine-tuned the anti-crisis package with his team of advisors on Sunday. The stimulus plan envisages higher government spending on education and research, cutting firms’ social security costs when they employ new graduates and contracting out the upkeep of the country’s infrastructure to private enterprises. On Sunday, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said he would be prepared to stake his cabinet’s future on the approval of the plan.