- Intensive efforts are underway to try to secure the release of two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan last week.
- Prime Minister Petr Nečas has asked the president to appoint army general Vlastimil Picek defense minister.
- The new owner of the ailing truck maker Tatra Kopřivnice has no plans to limit production.
- France’s Areva has filed a protest against the decision made by the Czech Anti-Monopoly Office confirming its exclusion from the 10 billion dollar tender for the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant.
- The former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences Vaclav Paces is to get a seat on the supervisory board of the power giant ČEZ.
No trace of two Czechs abducted in Pakistan
Intensive efforts are underway to try to secure the release of two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan last week. No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction. The two women, both in their mid-20s were kidnapped in Balochistan province when unknown assailants stopped their van. The guard traveling with them was later released. The Czech Foreign Ministry has so far been unable to trace their whereabouts and is communicating with the local authorities. It has warned Czechs against making trips to the region. President Zeman met with the Pakistani ambassador to Prague on Monday and handed over a letter to the Pakistani president asking for assistance in the matter. There is speculation the two women could have been abducted to Afghanistan.
PM confirms his choice for defense minister
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has asked the president to appoint army general Vlastimil Picek defense minister. Mr. Nečas said that the general’s extensive experience in the field made him an ideal candidate for the position. The post of defense minister has been vacant since last December when the prime minister sacked LIDEM leader Karolina Peake from the post after just eight days in office. She was dismissed for making extensive personnel changes, which included sacking general Picek from the post of deputy defense minister on the grounds that she wanted civilians only in the ministry’s top posts. President Zeman said earlier that he considered Vlastimil Picek an excellent choice for defense minister.
Tatra’s new owner planning to continue production
The new owner of the truck maker Tatra, Truck Development, officially took charge of the company on Monday, after purchasing it for 176 million crowns at an auction last week. The head of Truck Development, Marek Galvas, said he had no plans to cut the number of employees or limit production, though he is planning to introduce a completely new management team.
Areva files new protest against its exclusion from Temelin tender
France’s Areva has filed a protest against the decision made by the Czech Anti-Monopoly Office confirming its exclusion from the 10 billion dollar tender for the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. A spokeswoman for the company said Areva was convinced that the Anti-Monopoly Office had failed to comply with a number of requirements for tender review proceedings set by Czech and European law. It believes the office made the decision surprisingly swiftly and did not take into account 95 percent of the evidence Areva produced in its own defence.
Areva was rejected from the tender for allegedly failing to meet legislative and commercial requirements. Westinghouse Electric Corp. and a Russian-Czech group led by Rosatom Corp.’s unit ZAO Atomstroyexport are still competing for the deal. ČEZ should choose the winner in mid- 2013 and sign a final contract with the respective company by the year’s end.
Václav Pačes is to get seat on ČEZ supervisory board
The former head of the Czech Academy of Sciences Václav Pačes is to get a seat on the supervisory board of the power giant ČEZ. According to Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek he will replace outgoing deputy chair Ivo Foltyn on Tuesday. The 71-year-old scientist has considerable experience in the field, having headed a government commission whose task it was to contribute to formulating a long-term energy strategy under the former prime minister Mirek Topolánek.
Indonesia extradites Czech national
Indonesia has extradited a Czech national convicted of murder to the Czech Republic. This is the first case of its kind since the two countries do not have an agreement on the extradition of offenders. The decision may set an important precedent. Tomas Toman was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison in 2008 for beating to death a young man at a Prague night club. He fled the country to evade the jail sentence, going first to Australia and later to Indonesia in the hope that the authorities would not give him up.
Private Entrepreneurs’ Party files criminal complaint against shadow finance minister Mládek
The Private Entrepreneurs’ Party has filed a criminal complaint against the shadow finance minister, Jan Mládek, over a public statement in which he characterized self-employed owners of small businesses as parasites who exploit their employees and fail to contribute to the social security system. Mr Mládek, who made the statement at the Social Democratic Party’s weekend conference, has since apologized for his words saying his criticism had in actual fact been targeted against the government which set down a framework under which small businesses had excessively generous tax privileges. The shadow finance minister’s words caused an uproar and the chairman of the opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, clearly distanced himself from the statement, apologizing on Mr. Mladek’s behalf.
President to attend government session on Wednesday
President Miloš Zeman will attend Wednesday’s session of the government and visit the upper chamber, the Senate, on Thursday, his office said on Monday. The president announced earlier he would be more active in this respect than his predecessors, Vaclav Klaus and Vaclav Havel who only made exceptional appearances at the Office of the Government. President Zeman said he planned to use his prerogative to attend government sessions whenever the cabinet dealt with issues he felt strongly about.
President Zeman to visit Slovakia in April
President Miloš Zeman will visit Slovakia on April 4-5, the office of the Slovak president confirmed on Monday. He is expected to hold talks with his host, President Ivan Gašparovič, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and the Speaker of Parliament Pavel Paško. According to Prime Minister Fico, President Zeman is popular with the Slovak public and has many friends in the country. President Zeman is credited with improving Czech-Slovak relations in the years between 1998 and 2002 when he headed the then Czech government.
Tragic accident near Malostranská metro station
A taxi driver burnt to death in his car near Prague’s Malostranská metro station after losing control of the vehicle and hitting a street lamp in the early hours of Monday. An eyewitness says he ran to help the man but the door was stuck and the car was engulfed in flames within seconds. The fire spread to a nearby traffic stand before firefighters got the situation under control. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
The coming days are expected to bring more snow or sleet showers around the country with day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.