Former Prague mayor Jan Kasl back with new party for local elections

10-10-2002

When the popular mayor of Prague Jan Kasl quit in May - and also resigned from the Civic Democrats - few believed he had turned his back on politics for good. They were right - now Mr Kasl is back with a new right-of-centre party called the European Democrats, who are already campaigning hard ahead of the upcoming local elections.

Jan KaslJan Kasl When my colleague Pavla Horakova spoke to Jan Kasl on Wednesday, he explained the European Democrats' plans to try and revive tourism in the Czech capital.

"The first chance will be during the NATO summit when broadcasts from Prague on CNN, BBC and other major TV stations will be available all around the world, so that people can really check and confirm that Prague is a lively city, fully restored, there's no damage, there's no disease spread around or dead fish on streets or demolished buildings as people sometimes believe abroad. Prague does not benefit on profit from taxes from the tourist sector, all that goes to the state budget, it means less tourists, less problems, less expenses. But as former mayor of Prague I want to promote tourist business, I want to promote Czech national economy, because the better economy will be here in Prague, the better economy will be in the whole Czech Republic, all around the country. One major problem after the floods is transport and traffic in the city, you in your manifesto say that the current restrictions in the centre of Prague on private car traffic should be maintained, and authorities have been calling on people to leave their cars at home. "

But not many people seem to be heeding these calls, how would you do that?

"I was trying to persuade the present Mayor and city authority that they should launch a discussion with Prague citizens whether they are happier with the restricted individual car transport in the centre or not, because I believe everybody's benefiting from the situation. And the question is whether we should follow the London pattern from next February, one sticker for 5 pounds in London, let's say three or two hundred Czech crowns here for one working day to enter the city. If you really need it, if you have to go there, you simply have to pay and the money is used for the improvement of the public transport. I would say that we definitely have a comparable public transport system to London, but we should improve it because of the accessibility, because of the transport in the real core of the city where there's no surface connection, there's only underground. All that costs money and we could earn the money from those who really cannot give-up cars."

10-10-2002