The number of deaths on Czech roads fell to its lowest level in the last 40 years during the first quarter of the year. Czech police announced on Thursday that fatalities between January and March totalled 118. During the same period in 2009 the total was 176. The worst first quarter on record was in 1994 when 305 were killed. Police said there were four deaths linked with excess alcohol in the first quarter this year. That is 23 less than in the first quarter of 2009. In recent years the trend has been for an increasing number of alcoholic related deaths on the road.
The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, says his country wants to play an active role in deciding the future direction of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. He made the comments in Washington on Wednesday after talks with the Czech-born former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who is heading a committee drafting a new NATO mission statement that will be presented to the alliance’s head Anders Fogh Rasmussen by the end of this month. Mr Fischer called on Mr Rasmussen to ensure that the debate on NATO’s future involved all its members, adding that the Czechs wanted to and were prepared to take a proactive role in the process. The Czech Republic became a member of NATO in 1999.
Inflationary pressure is still modest in the Czech Republic according to figures for March from the national statistical office released on Thursday. Prices at factory gates rose by 0.1 percent in March compared with February. And they were actually 0.8 percent lower compared with March 2009. Prices at farm gates rose by 1.3 percent in March compared with April but were down 4.9 percent compared with a year earlier. The Czech overall inflation rate currently stands at 0.7 percent.
The governor of the Czech National Bank, Zdeněk Tůma, announced his resignation on Thursday. In a statement, the bank said that the governor would step down on June 30 although his second six year term is not due to empire until February 2011. The bank said that Czech President Václav Klaus was told of the decision on Tuesday. Mr. Tůma said that he had decided to leave early because wholesale changes of the bank board are due in February and it would be better to calm uncertainty connected with them. He added that it would be better if the governor in future if the governor’s mandate was different from most of his colleagues.
In football, the Czech football association’s disciplinary committee
imposed a record 6.0 million crowns fine and deducted 20 points from the
club for failing to play in a Gambrinus League game on Saturday. The points
deduction guarantees automatic relegation. The committee also banned
striker Marek Kincl from holding the captaincy for two years and banned
club boss Karel Kapr from holding any post connected with the game for the
same period. Kapr said the club would appeal.
Earlier, Bohemians 1905 was awarded three points and a 3:0 win over Bohemians Praha. The refusal of Bohemians Praha to play amounts to one of the biggest scandals to hit the top Gambrinus league in recent years. The two clubs have been conducting a legal battle and war of words over the right to use the Bohemians name. Bohemians Praha has called for European football’s governing body, UEFA, to intervene in the dispute.
The 17th Days of European Film festival started on Thursday evening in Prague. The festival offers a selection of films from European Union countries or countries lining up to join the EU. This year, 38 films are being screened from 28 countries. The festival continues in Prague until April 28 before transferring to the country’s second city, Brno, and other Czech towns and cities. These include Boskovice, Olomouc, Plzeň and Uherské Hradišté.
Czech President Václav Klaus on Thursday appointed Rut Bízková the country’s new environment minister. The nominee of the centre-right Civic Democrats replaces Jakub Šebesta. He briefly combined the environment portfolio with his ongoing job as Minister of Agriculture. The new environment minister faces a backlog of decisions concerning the pumping of EU funds and modifications to the country’s energy cutting ‘Green Saving’ programme. She has also said she will take a quick decision over whether to clear the modernisation of a controversial coal-fired power plant in the north-west of the country. Previous environment minister Jan Dusík resigned in protest after Prime Minister Jan Fischer to give him more time to negotiate improvements to the plant with Czech energy giant ČEZ.
Leading right-wing party, the Civic Democrats, presented its manifesto for elections to the lower house on Thursday. The party singled out cutting the state debt as the biggest priority for it. The manifesto contains the commitment by 2017 to balance the books as regards the state budget. To do that the party proposes across the board cuts in spending of 5.0 percent for all ministries and legislative barriers to increased spending. Taxes would be maintained at current levels. Party and election leader, Petr Nečas, said the manifesto amounted to a collection of realistic promises about what the party could deliver. He contrasted it with the promises of the main left-wing rivals, the Social Democrats, which he labelled as populist. The Civic Democrats have been trailing the Social Democrats in recent polls ahead of the elections that will take place at the end of May.
Top Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych has crashed out of the Monte Carlo open. Berdych was beaten by Spaniard Fernando Verdasco for a place in the quarter finals of the ATP tournament. He won the first set 7:5 but lost the next two sets 3:6 and 2:6. He had won six out of the previous nine encounters with Verdasco. Berdych is currently ranked the top Czech men’s singles player with a 15th place on the ATP world rankings.
A Prague court rejected the complaint by a former director of Czech Radio calling for the overturning of a decision by the broadcaster’s council to sack him. Václav Kasík said the dismissal in July last year on the initial grounds that he no longer fulfilled the preconditions for doing the job was illegal. The court said there council’s decision was not wholly correct and contained errors, but it was not illegal. Mr. Kasík said his lawyers would decide whether to appeal the court ruling. Mr. Kasík was initially appointed in 1999 with his mandate extended for a further six years in May 2005.
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