Outgoing Prime Minister Petr Nečas said that EU funds should be available not only for post-flood relief efforts, but for preventive measures as well. He is planning to introduce this to the closing document of the EU summit he is attending in Brussels this week. The four Visegrad countries, together with Germany and Austria, have already added a paragraph to the document that relates to funding for clean-up and renovations after this year’s flooding, which affected all of the countries.
School children around the country received their end-of-year report cards on Friday. The number of children who will have to repeat the year has been getting increasingly lower in the past five years. This year the number is a little over 6,000 for the whole of the Czech Republic. The outgoing Education Minister Petr Fiala attended an end-of-year ceremony for students at the primary school in Červený vrch in Prague.
As of Friday morning drivers can use a newly opened 25 kilometer stretch of the D3 highway between Tabor and Veselí nad Luznicí. An estimated 20 thousand drivers are expected to use the connection daily. The opening of the newly built stretch of the highway was preceded by an incident on Wednesday when a car with six Korean tourists was led to the as yet unfinished road by their GPS and crashed into a pile of dirt. Four people were taken to hospital with light injuries.
The Czech Republic's external debt grew by 42.7 billion crowns to just below 2,000 billion in the first quarter of 2013, accounting for 51.9 percent of GDP, the Czech National Bank said on Friday. The debt grew mainly on higher bank and government debts. The year-on-year, external debt rose by 65.7 billion crowns. The growth in external debt was due mainly to the banking sector’s external liabilities. Their growth was linked primarily to an increase in short-term deposits accepted from non-resident banks and non-bank clients, the bank said.
The 48th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival kicks off in west the Bohemian spa town on Friday evening. The main section of the festival will feature 14 titles competing for the Crystal Globe, among them six world premieres. The Oscar-winning filmmaker Michel Gondry will personally present his latest picture Mood Indigo and the biggest star to attend the festival this year –John Travolta - will attend the premiere of his new movie Killing Season. Mr. Travolta is to receive the festival’s Crystal Globe lifetime achievement award.
During a speech at Humboldt University in Berlin, President Miloš Zeman came out in support of a common EU defense system and army. In his opinion, the main goal of EU’s foreign policy should be to fight international terrorism. The president also deplored the current soft stance of EU institutions on terrorism, comparing it to the appeasement tactics that western European governments ascribed to during the rise of Nazism and Fascism in the 1930’s. President Zeman will finish off his two-day trip to Germany with a visit to the Czech-German business forum.
Czech President Miloš Zeman got a word of advice from his German counterpart Joachim Glauck during their meeting in Berlin on Wednesday. During their luncheon, the German head-of-state suggested the role of the president was to act as a facilitator and conciliator – not as a “second government”. Mr Gauck, who had good relations with Mr Zeman’s predecessor, Václav Klaus, was referring to the ongoing political crisis in the Czech Republic and the president’s decision this week to name a new prime minister to head a technocrat government despite strong opposition from parties in the Chamber of Deputies. Critics have charged that he sidestepped the parliamentary system even though the Constitution allows the president to appoint whomever he wants.
The date for the trial of former Central Bohemian governor David Rath has been set for 7 August. Seventy-eight witnesses will be called to testify, and the Regional Court in Prague is expecting the corruption trial to continue until late October. Mr. Rath has been in police custody since last May, when he was arrested with seven million crowns – an alleged bribe. He and ten of his associates were charged with offering and accepting bribes as well as other acts of corruption.
The Social Democratic party is planning to ask a former deputy chairwoman
Marie Benešová to rescind her membership in the party, after she
the offer to become justice minister in the new cabinet that Prime
Jiří Rusnok is putting together. The Social Democratic chairman Bohuslav
Sobotka said that Mrs. Benešová’s decision contradicts the party’s
position of not entering Mr. Rusnok’s caretaker government, which has
support of the president but has faced opposition from almost all the
parliamentary parties. Mrs. Benešová said that she is not planning to
leave the party and that she feels her decision is not problematic.
The government headed by Mr. Rusnok, who was named prime minister by President Zeman on Tuesday, is still coming together but it is unclear if it will remain in office for more than a few months. So far, the other people aside from Marie Benešová who have accepted a ministerial position are Martin Pecina, who will head the Interior Ministry, and the current head of the Federation of the Food and Drink Industries, Miroslav Toman, who will be agriculture minister. It is not clear if any party will vote in favor of the Rusnok cabinet when a confidence vote is held.