The minister for human rights and minorities, Jiří Dienstbier, has announced his intention to run for the post of deputy chair of the Social Democratic Party. Mr. Dienstbier said he wanted to more actively contribute to the internal reform and revitalization of the party. The ruling Social Democrats are to elect a new party leadership in the spring. The party leader, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is expected to run for the top post unchallenged.
The forex interventions launched by the Czech National Bank last year, in order to weaken the crown, have brought a higher number of tourists to the Czech Republic. In the first two quarters of 2014 the number of tourists from neighbouring countries rose on average from 6 to 10 percent, with the highest number of visitors from Austria and Slovakia. However the interventions negatively affected the profit margins of travel agencies.
The European Commission has released its economic growth forecast for the Czech Republic which predicts a growth of 2.5 percent for 2014 and 2.7 percent for the next two years. The deficit in public financing is expected to stay well below the recommended 3 percent of GDP. In 2014 the Commission predicts a gap in spending of 1.4 percent of the GDP, 2.1 percent next year and 1.7 percent in 2016. The forecast is slightly more optimistic than the one released by the Czech Finance Ministry which recently reviewed its economic growth forecast for this year down from 2.7 to 2.4 percent of the GDP. Its growth forecast for the next two years is 2.5 percent.
Czech scientists say they have found a way to detect Alzheimer in its early stages. Researchers from Prague’s Psychiatric Care Centre and Vinohrady hospital in Prague based their research on the heightened presence of certain anti-bodies in a given part of the brain which they believe signals the development of Alzheimer’s disease before other symptoms become apparent. Early treatment can significantly slow down the progression of the disease for which there is no cure. Approximately 140,000 people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in the Czech Republic.
Czech Senator Jaroslav Doubrava has confirmed that he monitored the Luhansk separatist elections as an international observer. He claims he did not know who exactly invited him to join the international observer team saying that the invitation had been mediated by a friend of his. The senator, who was formerly a member of the Communist Party, told journalists it had been a private visit but admitted to having used his diplomatic passport. Kiev has called the separatist elections “a farce” and put the 18 observers from around Europe who monitored them on a persona non grata list in Ukraine.
President Miloš Zeman sees no reason to apologize for the vulgar language he used in a live interview for Czech Radio on Sunday, his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told journalists on Tuesday. The president’s use of three extremely vulgar expressions has come under fire from both the public and politicians across the board. The president’s spokesman said Mr. Zeman used the words intentionally to highlight the hypocrisy of his critics and opponents who saw no reason to complain about vulgar language commonly used by some leading Czech politicians.
The Prague Hilton, the largest Czech hotel with 791 rooms, has been put up for sale, and its managerial contract with the Hilton chain will soon expire, property consultant JLL told the Czech News Agency on Tuesday. Avid Asset Management, the current owner of the hotel, empowered JLL to mediate the deal; the price was not disclosed. The new owner will be able to change the name. With over 7,000 square metres of meeting space, the Prague Hilton ranks among the largest conference hotels in Central and Eastern Europe. Avid Asset Management has put over 50 million euros in the modernisation of the hotel since 2004. The hotel has hosted many important figures and was the choice for US presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Police are searching for an unknown perpetrator who made an anonymous threat to bomb Czech nursery schools. The police were called to investigate several sites; no evidence of any explosives was found, and no students or personnel needed to be evacuated from the buildings. The schools have been informed to be on the lookout for any suspicious packages, as well as to monitor any unusual activity by individuals in their vicinity. The police are releasing no additional details and refused to say whether the threat had been made over the phone or by mail.
Over the coming days, 100 soldiers from the Czech Army will take control of a dangerous munitions site near Zlín which was partially destroyed by a massive explosion, in which two people are feared to have died. The soldiers are to fully seal-off the site ahead of ahead of a visit by the prime minister at the weekend. Some 15,000 tonnes of munitions, according to estimates, are still in the vicinity and random explosions make conditions in the area extremely volatile and unsafe. Defence Minister Martin Stropnický said his ministry was prepared to help firms which operated at the depot with the relocation of ammunition to a safer site.
The Czech government has outlined the core parametres of its kurzarbeit plan, aimed at helping firms and employees hit hard, for example, by EU-Russian sanctions or by a natural disaster. Under the plan, employees in times of difficulty could receive 70 percent of their regular wages, with 20 percent being paid from the state budget and 50 percent being paid by the employer. Each application by companies would be assessed and approved by the cabinet.
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