The Czech Republic joined the member states of the EU in a day of mourning for victims of the attacks in the United States on Friday. The country held three minutes' silence at noon to commemorate the victims of Tuesday's attacks. Sirens and church bells sounded for the three minutes throughout the country. All traffic was halted, people in many Czech companies stopped working. All flags in the Czech Republic were kept at half-mast throughout the day. The government had also asked companies and the Czech people not to hold any public events on Friday, in order not to disrupt the day of mourning. Firemen in some Czech towns commemorated their colleagues who died in the line of duty while helping to save the lives of those who were direct victims of the attacks. President Vaclav Havel has cancelled a planned one-day state visit to Bulgaria on Friday and stayed in the Czech Republic to commemorate the victims of the attacks.
The Czech deputy prime minister Vladimir Spidla has called on Czech politicians not to misuse the events in America for their political goals. He was reacting to a public gathering which took place on Wednesday in downtown Prague and was attended by top opposition politicians as well as prominent figures of public life. The meeting which commemorated the victims of the tragedy in New York and Washington took place despite a warning from interior minister Stanislav Gross that it might represent a security risk.
Stocks at the Prague Stock Exchange fell sharply on Friday in reaction to developments on European markets. Investors are afraid of the uncertainty before the United States takes revenge for the terrorist attacks. The PX-50 index plunged to 322.9 points, just 7 points above the all-time low. Trading on US markets is expected to recommence on Monday. Stock brokers expect a huge sell-out of overseas stocks which will impact European stock markets immensely.
The dominant Czech telecommunications operator, Czech Telecom, has reported a 100 percent increase in long-distance traffic to the United States after it started providing calls over internet to the US for free in off-peak hours on Thursday. To access this service, customers dial prefix 052 before the country code. Czech Telecom's spokesman Vladan Crha said the off-peak hours in the Czech Republic correlate to the time difference.
Czech mobile phone operator Eurotel is also providing free calls to the United States from its franchise shops, and its competitor, RadioMobil, said it would not charge its clients for calls to America made on September 12th and 13th.
Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman was released from hospital on Friday after five days of treatment for a kidney stone. The government said in a statement that Zeman would return to work on Monday. 56 year-old Zeman has a history of kidney problems. He was taken to hospital 14 months ago with acute back pain related to his kidney ailments.
Leading Czech state representatives commemorated the anniversary of birth of former Czechoslovak foreign minister Jan Masaryk and death of his father, the first Czechoslovak president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. A ceremony was held at the foreign ministry in Prague to commemorate the post-war foreign minister. President Vaclav Havel also laid a wreath at Tomas Garrigue Masaryk's grave near the presidential residence in Lany.
Jan Masaryk fell to his tragic death on the 10th of March, 1948 from a window of his apartment in the foreign ministry building after the Communist secret police broke into his flat.
Austria will help the Czech Republic in it's war against drugs. A joint project to boost the Czech Republic's anti-drug policy was launched in Prague on Friday. Czech cabinet minister Karel Brezina said that the Czech Republic will receive 750.000 euros for the 18-month project. It includes the setting up of a national monitoring centre for drugs and drug addiction which will be working with the European monitoring centres. The main aim of the project is to reduce both supply and demand for drugs, promote prevention and substitution programmes.
The Czech Republic's exports to the other member states of the Central European Free Trade Agreement grew by 18.6 percent over the first seven months of this year to 3.2 billion USD and the Czech Republic maintains a surplus in trade with its CEFTA partners. Both the main export and import commodities included semi-finished products, machinery and vehicles. Besides the Czech Republic, the members of the Central European Free Trade Agreement are Slovakia, Hungary, Slovinia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria. While trade in industrial products is liberalised to a large extent, there are many trade protectionist measures for agricultural resources.
Football now - and the British football club West Ham United have completed the signing of Czech international defender Tomas Repka for 8.11 million USD, the premier league club said on Friday. The Fiorentina defender passed a medical at Upton Park earlier in the week but only settled personal terms on Friday. West Ham say their paperwork has been completed but are still awaiting the Italian authorities to process them at their end. West Ham managing director Paul Aldridge said there was a good chance that Repka will go straight into the side for his long-awaited debut.
And finally, the weather forecast. On Saturday, we are expecting a cloudy weather with occasional rain showers. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 13 to 17 degrees Celsius. On Sunday and Monday, we are expecting an inflow of cold air from the North-West. It should be mostly cloudy with scattered showers. Nigh-time lows will drop to between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius, afternoon highs should not exceed 14 degrees Celsius.
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