Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said that the Czech Republic must look beyond 2012 for adoption of the euro. In a televised debate on Sunday the prime minister said the country would not be ready to adopt the single European currency until it had successfully implemented a reform of the health and pension system. 2012 is simply not a realistic target date, the prime minister said. Czech business leaders have been putting pressure on the centre-right cabinet to speed up the necessary reforms and set a date for the adoption of the euro as soon as possible. The Civic Democrats, of which Mr. Topolanek is chairman, say they cannot proceed as fast as they would like because of the need to reach agreement with their coalition partners, the Christian Democrats and the Greens. Neighbouring Slovakia is aiming to become the first new EU member in Central Europe to adopt the euro in January of 2009.
Fog, icy roads and snow-drifts have been complicating traffic in the eastern parts of the country. Road maintenance crews have warned drivers –particularly truck drivers – not to set out without snow chains. The country’s ski-resorts reported 25 to 70 centimeters of snow over the weekend attracting thousands of skiers.
One of the four women injured in a car accident in Prague on Saturday has succumbed to her injuries in hospital. Another woman remains in serious condition with spinal injuries. The other two women were injured lightly. The accident happened in the early morning hours of Saturday when a driver lost control of his car and ploughed into four women waiting at a tram stop in Prague. The police are investigating the cause of the accident. They have ruled out drink driving.
Statistics suggest that the number of abused children in the Czech Republic is going down but experts fear the figures do not reflect the true state of affairs. According to statistics the number of abused children in 2005 was 1983 while last year it 1593. Close to 600 of them were sexually abused, the rest suffered physical or psychological abuse. Zuzana Baudysova, head of the Our Child Foundation, says she fears many cases of abused children are never reported. The foundation runs a help-line for abused children and has been lobbying for better legal protection of children in the Czech Republic.
Czech Republic, already assured a place at Euro 2008, defeated Slovakia 3-1 in their Group D qualifier on Saturday. Zdenek Grygera opened the scoring in the 13th minute when his long-range shot curled past goalkeeper Kamil Contofalsky. Marek Kulic, pounced for the second goal six minutes later when Contofalsky lost control of the ball as he fell to the ground. The Slovaks rarely threatened before pulling one back in the 79th when Czech substitute Michal Kadlec deflected the ball into his own net. Tomas Rosicky then restored the two-goal advantage for the Czechs with seven minutes to go.
Three emergency crews took part in a dramatic five hour operation in a cave in Moravsky Kras to save a cave explorer who lay injured at the bottom of the cave. The young man slipped and fell from a height of ten meters dislocating his shoulder and injuring his head. The team of explorers he was with could not bring him out because the opening to the cave was too narrow. The opening had to be widened with explosives and rescue workers then carried him on a stretcher through difficult terrain to a site accessible by ambulance. The man was admitted to hospital with severe hypothermia but is said to be recovering.
The Communist Party claims that the governnment’s fiscal package approved by Parliament earlier this year is unconstitutional. The party has lodged a complaint with the Constitutional court, hoping to prevent the fiscal reforms taking effect at the beginning of 2008. One of the points made in the complaint is that the government cannot introduce health care fees when the Czech Constitution guarantees free health care to all citizens. The complaint has received backing from 17 deputies of the Social Democratic Party.
The Czech and Slovak prime ministers, Mirek Topolanek and Robert Fico, backed the idea of a joint bid to host the 2020 European football championships during a joint television interview on Sunday. Both premiers however stressed the challenge they faced in providing national stadiums that could meet the demands of hosting such a major event. Head of the Czech football federation Pavel Mokry raised the possibility of a joint Czech-Slovak bid to host the 2020 championships last week citing the similar languages, culture and available infrastructure in the two countries.
Several hundred Czech families invited foreigners living in the country to Sunday lunch within a multi-cultural project aimed at overcoming xenophobia. The “Get to know your neighbours” project was launched in 2004 and since then some five hundred families have become involved. More than half of them maintain regular contacts. The idea is to break down existing barriers between Czechs and foreigners living in the country some of whom have difficulties making contacts outside their own communities. There are close to 400,000 foreigners living in the country at present.
Teachers have threatened to go on strike on December 4th if the government fails to increase the education sector’s expenditures for 2008. The proposed budget reckons with a 1,5 percent increase in teachers’ salaries which will barely cover inflation. Trade unions say that more money is needed for teaching aids, sports facilities and maintenance.