Prague’s Ruzyně airport handled a record 12.44 million passengers in 2007, a rise of over 7 percent on the previous year, a spokesperson for the airport said on Thursday. An increase in passenger numbers in recent years has been partly put down to budget airlines, with almost a quarter of the airport’s passengers now flying by low-cost carriers. Officials expect up to 13 million will pass through Ruzyně’s terminals this year.
The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint made by a group of senators against measures to reform the public finances which came into effect on January 1. The senators, including members of the opposition Social Democrats, said there were problems with the way in which the government-sponsored reform had been discussed. However, the court said it would not hear the complaint because it was already dealing with a proposal to overturn the reform submitted by Social Democrat MPs. Opponents of the government reform bill are strongly opposed to new medical charges, which they say are unconstitutional.
The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, is set to hold talks on a planned US radar base in the Czech Republic with US President George Bush on February 27, the news website iHNed.cz reported. The meeting will take place during an official visit by the Czech leader to the United States. Mr Topolánek said there was no danger the matter would not be resolved before the end of Mr Bush’s term of office. The Czech Parliament is expected to vote following a NATO summit in April on whether to allow the building of the base, which would be part of a US global missile defence system.
The Czech women’s tennis number one Nicole Vaidišová was knocked out
in the quarter-finals of the Australian Women’s Hardcourts in Gold Coast
on Thursday. She lost 3-6 3-6 to Li Na of China in a competition that is
seen as a warm-up for the Australian Open.
Meanwhile, Lucie Šafářová and Tomáš Berdych ended their participation in Australia’s mixed Hopman Cup on a high, beating India 2:1. The path to the final had been closed to the off-court couple after a defeat to the USA on New Year’s Eve.
Around a quarter of a million Czechs were on holiday over the Christmas and New Year period, according to figures released by the Association of Czech Travel Agents. The association’s spokesman Tomio Okamura told the newspaper Právo that around 170,000 Czechs had spent the festive season at mountain resorts in the Czech Republic, while around 85,000 holidayed outside the country. Mr Okamura also said holiday vouchers had sold well, with up to 200,000 Czechs receiving them as gifts at Christmas.
The Czech Republic’s budget deficit in 2007 was significantly lower than the gap approved by the Chamber of Deputies. Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said last year’s deficit was CZK 66.4 bn – some CZK 25 bn less than figure the lower house had agreed on. Mr Kalousek attributed the improvement to sound economic development, lower government spending and increased tax revenues. However, the minister said the fact a state at the peak of its economic potential had any deficit at all was bad news.
Green Party Senator Jaromír Štětina has called on President Václav Klaus to apologise to the people who are taking efforts to “rid the Czech Republic of the Bolshevik legacy.” Mr. Štětina said the Czech head of state has recently made disgracing comments on these people, referring to President Klaus’ New Year’s address and to a comment he made before Christmas, when he said that the appeals for the abolition of the Communist Party were ridiculous. The spokesman for the Presidential Office Petr Hájek said the president hasn’t read the letter and won’t make any comments on it.
The number of fatal injuries on Czech roads increased last year by 154 to 1,110 deaths. The number of accidents increased significantly towards the end of the year, when politicians announced possible changes to the traffic penalty-point system that was introduced in July 2006. Another reason behind the growing number of road accidents may be the lack of traffic police on the roads. The head of the country’s traffic-police has promised that another 500 officers will be employed this year.
The head of the Green Party and Deputy Prime Minister Martin Bursík has
warned the ruling Civic Democrats against accepting Jiří Čunek’s
comeback to the government. Mr. Bursík has reacted to the statement of
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek who said that if the Christian Democrats
insisted on their leader’s return to the government, he would yield to
the pressure. The Green Party leader said he didn’t recommend the Civic
Democrats to swap Jiri Cunek’s comeback for the Christian Democrats’
votes for Vaclav Klaus in the upcoming presidential election.
The Christian Democrat chairman Jiri Cunek stepped down as deputy prime minister and minister for local development in November when an investigation into whether he had accepted bribes was reopened. The investigation has been dropped a few weeks later and Mr. Cunek now wants to be reinstated as a member of cabinet.
The chairman of the opposition Social Democratic Party Jiří Paroubek has openly criticized President Klaus’ New Year’s address to the nation as one of his weakest speeches ever. “It would seem that ahead of the presidential elections Vaclav Klaus is suddenly afraid to defend his strong views on many issues,” Mr Paroubek said. According to Communist Party chairman Vojtěch Filip the speech lacked balance. The heads of the Christian Democratic Party and the Green Party said they missed a clear vision of the country’s future development in the president’s New Year’s Day address.
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