The heads of government of the Višegrad Group countries will meet in Prague on June 22 ahead of an EU summit at which the block’s leaders are expected to try to develop a road map towards fiscal union as well as debating the worsening economic situation in Spain and the outcome of elections in Greece. The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia will be consulting their positions ahead of the meeting. Of the four countries, Slovakia alone has adopted the euro, but the economic problems of the eurozone are expected to impact all EU members. The Czech Republic is particularly vulnerable due to its dependence on exports most of which are destined for EU member states.
President Václav Klaus has said there is no good solution to the debt crisis in the eurozone In an interview for Czech Radio on Sunday the euro sceptic Czech head of state poured scorn on hopes that a victory of pro-EU forces in Greece –namely the conservative New Democracy party - would help resolve the country’s problems. Mr. Klaus said that no matter who wins, Greece’s ruined economy and staggering debt will remain and the country may face months of protracted agony. Mr. Klaus stressed that Greece had not precipitated the debt crisis in the eurozone but was merely its victim. He said the initial mistake had been in letting Greece join the eurozone in the first place and it was now paying the price.
Jiří Karas, the Czech ambassador to Belorussia, has announced his decision to run for president. Mr. Karas who is a member of the Christian Democrats said he would run as an independent candidate since his party has already thrown its weight behind MEP Zuzana Roithová. He will need to collect 50 thousand signatures to do so. Mr. Karas is known as a politician with highly conservative views who has often spoken out against abortions and registered partnerships.
Czech film and theatre actress Jaroslava Adamová has died at the age of 87. Ms. Adamová’s career spanned 60 years on stage, on screen and in dubbing studio’s. Among her unforgettable roles are Anna Karenina, Heda Gabler and Mary Stuart. She dubbed Meryl Streep, Jeanne Moreau and Sofia Lauren. In 1996 she received the prestigious Thalia award for her life-long contribution to Czech theatre, she was also awarded the František Filipovsky prize for dubbing and in 2001 was presented with a Medal of Merit by president Václav Havel.
A 36-year-old driver was killed in a wild chase with police early on Sunday. The incident happened near Plzen where traffic police were conducting random checks of passing vehicles. When the driver failed to stop and headed out of town at high speed the police gave chase. A police spokesman said the driver lost control of the vehicle and careened off the road before crashing into a tree. He said there had been no collision with the police car which was still way behind. The driver had a valid license and the car was not a stolen vehicle, so it is not clear what caused the drive to risk his life. The accident is being investigated.
The Czech Republic reached the Euro 2012 quarter-finals as Group A winners after beating Poland 1:0 in Wroclaw on Saturday. The Czechs withstood early Polish pressure and took the lead in the 72nd minute with a neat strike from Petr Jiráček which proved enough to seal the team’s advance. The victory puts the Czechs back in the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first time since making it to the semi-finals in Euro 2004 when they lost to Greece.
Prime minister and Civic Democrat leader Petr Nečas has said his party’s main aim in the autumn regional elections would be to prevent the formation of left-wing coalitions. Speaking at his party’s ideological conference in Ostrava over the weekend, Mr. Nečas said the present coalitions between the Social Democrats and the Communists were having a devastating effect on financing. He said public debt had risen three-fold in the regions with left wing-leaderships and that money was being spent on salaries rather than being invested.
The opposition Social Democrats who are likewise holding a policy conference this weekend said the autumn Senate and regional elections would inevitably be a national referendum on the government’s reform programme. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka has said the prosecution of former party member David Rath –which has already hit the party’s support rating - must not be allowed to overshadow the government’s mistakes and the country’s growing economic problems. He slammed the ruling coalition for approving what he called chaotic spending-cuts instead of effecting measures to jump-start the economy. He moreover questioned the government’s fiscal targets saying that the first 5 months of the year had already created 75 percent of the projected spending deficit for the whole year.
Operation on the main rail route between Prague and Brno was fully restored early on Saturday after parts of a wall collapsed onto the tracks on Friday. Two trains ploughed into the debris but fortunately the accident resulted only in material damage. Emergency crews worked 13 hours straight clearing the tracks. An investigation is now underway into what caused the wall to fall. Police are not ruling out charges of negligence.