There was a 20-percent fall in the number of mortgages provided by Czech banks in the first half of this year, according to figures released by the Ministry for Regional Development. The decrease has been largely attributed to the fact that 2007 saw extremely high demand for mortgages due to expected rises in the VAT rate on construction work and interest rates.
Meanwhile, Prague authorities have expressed alarm over an epidemic of hepatitis A which is particularly affecting drug addicts in the city. Around 100 people have contracted the disease since January, compared to the 36 and 13 cases recorded in the whole of 2007 and 2006. The incidence of hepatitis A is 30 times higher in the capital than elsewhere in the country.
Prague Airport handled a record 5.9 million passengers in the first half of this year, according to figures released by its operators on Thursday. Two and a half million of those passengers flew on the Czech national airline CSA, while almost a quarter flew on budget airlines. There was a 4.3 percent increase year-on-year in take-offs and landings.
The Polish president, Lech Kaczynski, is holding talks with his Czech
counterpart Václav Klaus on Thursday evening. The two heads of state are
expected to discuss the ratification of the European Union’s Lisbon
Treaty at the Czech presidential retreat Lány, near Prague. Mr Kaczynski
had said he would not sign the reform treaty in the wake of Ireland’s
rejection of the document, but changed his position after a meeting with
Nicolas Sarkozy the president of France, which currently holds the rotating
EU presidency. Mr Klaus, who is a euro-sceptic, has consistently expressed
opposition to further EU integration.
The Czech Parliament is due to vote on the ratification of the Treaty of Lisbon towards the end of this year, after the Czech Constitutional Court rules on whether it is in line with the Czech constitution. The news website iDnes reported on Thursday that the government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek was attempting to persuade the court to rule in favour of Lisbon.
The Czech Republic's Under 19 football team have taken a bronze medal at the European Championship, after being knocked out in the semi-finals on Wednesday night. The Czechs, playing in front of a home crowd in Mladá Boleslav, were drawing Germany 1:1 after 90 minutes but went out after conceding a second goal in extra time.
Police in Prague have arrested an HIV positive man who carried out a mugging by threatening to infect a passer-by with a hypodermic needle. The 21-year-old man, a drug addict who also has hepatitis B, was picked up by the foreigners police, who were conducting controls in the centre of the capital on Wednesday.
A new edition of Jaroslav Hašek’s classic novel The Good Soldier Svejk: And his Fortunes in the World War with illustrations by Petr Urban is being prepared for publication in September, Vanda Stankeová of publishers XYZ said on Thursday. Petr Urban is known for bawdy cartoons often involving Czech pub life. His work is closer to the spirit of Hašek than that of the other well-known illustrators who were interested in taking part in the project, said Ms Stankeová.
One man was killed in a four-vehicle collision near Hradec Kralové on Thursday morning. The news website novinky.cz reported that the crash – involving two cars, a truck and a van – may have been caused by former Czech ice hockey international Ladislav Lubina. Police were reported to be searching for Mr Lubina, who fled the scene. The man who died is believed to have been the father of former football international Vratislav Lokvenc.