Daily news summary News

24-02-2009

Central bank objects to foreign press’ misleading information

The Czech National Bank has voiced objections to misleading information published by some foreign media outlets regarding the country’s economic condition. An article published by the British paper the Financial Times on Thursday put the Czech Republic’s national debt at 192 billion US dollars; the Czech central bank points out however that the country only owes 38 billion dollars. Also, the British weekly Economist wrote Saturday that the Czech crown was one of the East European currencies that are currently falling due to a large number of house mortgages taken in Swiss francs. The Czech National Bank says this problem does not in fact exist in the Czech Republic. The Czech National Bank said that such misleading information may put off potential investors, and was particularly harmful in the midst of a financial crisis.

S&P: Czech Republic to cope well with crisis

In related news, the rating agency Standard and Poor’s predicted on Tuesday that the Czech Republic was likely to cope well with the economic crisis. The agency said however that the country would experience further economic downturn later this year.

House speaker: Senate likely to pass Lisbon treaty

The head of the Senate, Přemysl Sobotka, of the ruling Civic Democrats, said on Tuesday that the upper chamber of the Czech Parliament was likely to approve the Lisbon treaty. Mr Sobotka said a fresh assessment of the reform document by the Czech Constitutional Court would be pointless. The Senate is yet to vote on the Lisbon treaty which was approved by Parliament’s lower chamber earlier this month. The Czech Constitutional Court was asked to review parts of the treaty by some Civic Democratic senators last year; and ruled that it was in line with Czech law. A number of senators for the ruling party would however like to have it reviewed again.

Prostitution a multi-billion business

Prostitution in the Czech Republic has become a nine-billion-crown, or 400-million-US dollar business, accounting for 0.2 percent of the country’s GDP, a survey by the Czech Statistical Office revealed on Tuesday. However, the number of prostitutes, estimated between 9,000 and 10,000, has not changed much in the last few years, according to the survey. The number of street prostitutes has decreased rapidly as more and more of them are employed in nightclubs in towns and cities.

The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is to undertake a comprehensive study on this area of enterprise; 2 million crowns has been earmarked to this end. The Czech law does not recognize prostitution; it is neither legal nor illegal to engage in commercial sex in the Czech Republic.

Justice minister fires head of regional prosecutors

The Czech justice minister, Jiří Pospíšil, fired the head of a regional prosecution authority on Tuesday after he refused to reinstate a subordinate he had sacked for criticizing the way the institution worked. Jiří Křivanec, the head of state prosecution in Ústí nad Labem, northern Bohemia, fired one of his prosecutors, Adam Bašný, earlier this month for having criticized the prosecution’s role in the case of the former deputy PM Jiří Čunek who was acquitted on charges of fraud last year. Mr Bašný’s sacking provoked an outcry from fellow prosecutors and other professionals. Minister Pospíšil said he had no choice but to sack the chief regional prosecutor because he refused to reinstate his former subordinate.

EU commissioner Verheugen: Czech presidency an advantage

The vice-president of the European Commission for enterprise and industry, Gunther Verheugen, has praised the Czech EU presidency. In a statement issued in Brussels on Monday, Mr Verheugen said it was an advantage for the European Union to be presided by one of the bloc’s new members. The vice-president of the European Commission said that the Czech EU presidency would guarantee that populists in the old member states could not blame their problems on EU enlargement. Mr Verheugen also noted that less than two months into the Czech EU presidency it was already “crystal clear” that this presidency was going to be one of the most challenging in decades.

The Czech Republic took over the European presidency from France in January of this year. Its start saw two international crises – the Israeli offensive in Gaza, and the disruption of Russian natural gas deliveries to Europe. The Czech presidency has been criticized by some of the old EU member states, especially France, for being “too passive”.

Case of bird flu detected in Moravia

A case of bird flu was discovered at a goose farm near Hodonín, in southern Moravia, on Tuesday. The region’s veterinarian authority said some of the birds were infected with the less dangerous H7 strain, and not the deadly H5N1. Around 3,000 geese and more than 350 ducks will be put down by the authorities to prevent the spread of the infection.

Human rights minister: situation in Janov ghetto “dramatic”

The minister for human rights and minorities, Michael Kocáb, visited one of the country’s largest Romany ghettos in Janov on Tuesday, describing the situation as “dramatic”. Mr Kocáb said however he was pleased with the lively debate between the local authorities, human rights groups and Romany NGOs. The local mayor gave Mr Kocáb keys to an apartment in the Janov housing estate so that the government could set up an office in the area.

Janov, part of the northern Bohemian town of Litvínov, is one of the Czech Republic’s largest Romany ghettos. In November last year, it became a target of far-right activists who intended to stage a march through the area; the attempt ended in a clash with riot police.

Aristocrat wins court battle over family crypt

Alžběta Pezoldová, heiress of the Schwarzenberg aristocratic family, has won a court battle over a family crypt after a court in Jindřichův Hradec, southern Bohemia, confirmed her claim on Tuesday. She lost several court cases in a protracted battle for the property but in January of this year the Czech Constitutional Court cancelled all previous verdicts in the case, making way for today’s ruling. Ms Pezoldová has filed lawsuits for the return of billion of crowns’ worth of former family property around the country.

Hundreds flee chlorine cloud in north Moravia

About 200 people were evacuated after a cloud of chlorine escaped from a water-treatment plant in the community in Vítkov, north Moravia, on Tuesday. The evacuees included students from a nearby boarding school and local inhabitants who were taken away by buses. It was the second incident of air contamination in the same place in less than 24 hours. In the first accident, two men had to receive medical treatment after they inhaled chlorine.

Florida’s goalie Vokoun named NHL’s second star of the week

Czech Tomáš Vokoun, of the Florida Panthers, was named the NHL’s second star of the week on Monday after notching up two shutouts. The goalie saved 118 shots in last week’s games against New Jersey, Chicago and Boston, lifting the Panthers to seventh place in the Eastern Conference chart. Tomáš Vokoun has recorded six shutouts this season.

Weather

The coming days should bring partly cloudy skies with snow in places and day temperatures not exceeding 5 degrees Celsius.

24-02-2009