Czech betting firms are to be allowed to operate internet gambling for the first time. Following lobbying from the country’s biggest betting companies, the Finance Ministry decided to allow five firms to introduce on-line gambling. Currently Czech firms are losing out as punters in this country bet on websites based in other states. Gamblers who wish to bet on-line will first have to register in person at bricks and mortar betting shops, a Finance Ministry spokesperson said.
The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has attacked the refusal of the Czech president, Václav Klaus, to fly a European Union flag over Prague Castle during the Czech Republic’s upcoming presidency of the EU. Speaking at the European Parliament, Mr Sarkozy also criticised Mr Klaus’s behaviour during a recent meeting with a delegation of senior MEPs in Prague. Those talks ended in acrimony when the MEPs tried in vain to present the euro-sceptic Mr Klaus with an EU flag. For his part, President Klaus described the French president’s comments as “really undignified”. The Czech Republic assumes the six-month rotating presidency of the EU on January 1.
The Czech government has taken the advice of the Finance Ministry and the governor of the central bank and decided not to set a date for adopting the common European currency, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Wednesday. That means the Czech Republic will not sign up next year to ERM-II, the exchange rate mechanism which is a major step towards full euro adoption. Several Czech business leaders have called for the introduction of the euro, as the strong Czech crown has had a negative impact on exports. Neighbouring Slovakia joins the eurozone on January 1.
The leader of the Social Democrats says he believes a deal with the government aimed at ensuring the Czech Republic’s EU presidency runs smoothly will be agreed before Christmas. After discussions on Tuesday, Jiří Paroubek said it was possible he and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek would hold further talks on the matter in the near future. Mr Paroubek has previously said any agreement would only concern some aspects of EU policy – not domestic politics.
The Czech National Bank has cut interest rates by half a percentage point. The cut, which analysts had expected, leaves the main two-week repo rate at 2.25 percent. Speaking on Wednesday after the move was announced, the deputy governor of the central bank, Miroslav Singer, said it had been made because of a fall in demand in developed countries, which influences inflation in the Czech Republic. Six weeks ago the Czech National Bank cut interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point.
The Social Democrats Irena Kočí has been sworn in as a member of the Chamber of Deputies, following the resignation of his seat in the lower house by her former party colleague Michal Pohanka. Mr Pohanka had previously abandoned the opposition benches to vote with the government; his departure has further weakened the shaky coalition, which is unsure of a majority in the lower house.
A new poll suggests the opposition Social Democrats have pulled further ahead of the governing Civic Democrats in terms of public support. An opinion poll carried out this month by the CVVM agency indicates that 44.5 percent would vote for the Social Democrats, compared to 27 percent support for the Civic Democrats. In November the gap was 1 percent narrower. The Communist Party ranked third in the December survey with 14 percent backing. The Social Democrats made significant gains on the Civic Democrats in regional and Senate elections in October.
The Prague Stock Exchange weakened during morning trading on Tuesday, with the PX index losing more than 1 percent to 826.9 points. Erste Bank came under significant pressure losing 2.05 percent to 3,680 crowns while Komerční banka shed 2.25 percent, trading at 2,950 crows against Monday's close at 3,018. The biggest loser was the tobacco company Philip Morris, which lost 2.86 percent to 6,361 crowns.
Former Czech president Václav Havel on Tuesday criticized the European
Union for what he called an "overly cautious" policy towards
Russia and accused it of putting economic interests ahead of human rights.
Speaking at a conference organised by the pro-EU civic group Yes For Europe
in Prague, Mr. Havel said that Russia was a new type of authoritarian
regime that is far more sophisticated than a classic dictatorship and that
it was extremely important for the EU to communicate with it openly, for
instance to ask about the politically motivated murders of certain Russian
In early December, the 27-nation bloc resumed key partnership talks with Russia, aimed at boosting economic and diplomatic ties three months after they were frozen in the wake of the conflict between Russia and Georgia.
The Christian Democrats of the ruling coalition want the government to set a timetable for euro adoption by the end of May at the latest. Czech exporters have long been pushing for the move but so far the government has been reluctant to make a commitment. Prime Minister Topolánek says the time is not yet ripe for such a commitment in view of the global financial crisis, the need to complete economic reforms and stabilize the country’s public finances. Last year Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek of the Christian Democrats proposed that the euro be adopted in 2012, but the government later backpedaled on the proposed date. The opposition Social Democrats say 2012 seems like a realistic target. Slovakia, the Czech Republic’s eastern neighbour, will adopt the euro as of January 1, 2009.
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Czechia now ahead of Spain in GDP per capita, but still below EU average
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’