The Czech and Slovak foreign ministers Karel Schwarzenberg and Miroslav Lajcak, met for talks in Prague on Thursday on the side-lines of a conference marking “Twenty Years of Independent Czech and Slovak Diplomacy“. Twenty years after the break-up of Czechoslovakia the ministers described bilateral relations as “above-standard and problem-free”. The two neighbour states cooperate closely in many areas such as coordinated infrastructure projects. Both are also strong advocates of nuclear power. Every year they hold joint government-sessions focussing on bilateral relations, trade and common goals.
The Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association has filed a criminal complaint against the Energy Regulatory Office for allegedly having deliberately produced false data to influence a verdict on solar power passed by the Constitutional Court in 2012. The court ruled that the government was within its rights to put a retroactive tax on solar power plant investors in order to curb a solar boom. It was the Czech Photovoltaic Industry which challenged the government’s decision in court and its head Zuzana Musilová now claims the Energy Regulatory Office doctored two crucial reports on the grounds of which the court made its decision.
A court in Nový Jičín has declared bankruptcy proceedings against the heavily indebted Tatra truck company. According to the CTK news agency the company is to be sold at a bankruptcy auction in mid-March. Its price has reportedly been set at 300 million crowns. Tatra was established in 1850 for the production of carriages. In 1897 the company produced its first car named the President.
Frenštát pod Radhoštěm is holding three days of mourning for the victims of this week’s tragic explosion that killed at least five people in an apartment block in the north Moravian town. The tragedy has sparked a wave of unprecedented solidarity with people sending six million crowns to a help- fund for the survivors in the course of just three days. Offers of help have been pouring in from around the country and people are offering to provide accommodation for the families who have now been left homeless. What has profoundly shocked the nation is that the explosion was a deliberate act of violence by one of the block’s inhabitants.
Czech food inspectors, who on Wednesday confirmed the presence of horsemeat in frozen lasagne by the firm Nowaco, have warned customers about a second suspect product on the market. The Czech Food Inspection authority received warning from Germany via the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed regarding lasagne made by Eisemann in Luxembourg which has also been found to contain horsemeat. Although horsemeat is legally sold in the Czech Republic, in the form of salami, its presence must clearly be stated on the label. Violation of the law can result in a fine of up to 3 million crowns.
Three armed robbers held up a security van transporting a large amount of cash in Přemyslovice west of Olomouc, early on Thursday. They blocked its way in an isolated spot near a forest and after threatening the guards with machine guns, they made off with 30 million crowns. Police have closed off a large part of the area and intensified checks of vehicles around the country. No one was reported hurt in the hold-up.
Two batches of pre-made frozen lasagna that were set to be sold by Tesco in the Czech Republic were found to contain horsemeat instead of beef, which was stated in the ingredients. The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority ordered Tesco to take all of the Nowaco frozen lasagna off the shelves, since the label was misleading customers. The batches that were found to contain horsemeat were marked as having been produced in Luxembourg. Horsemeat can be legally sold in the Czech Republic.
The Bulgarian energy regulator announced on Wednesday morning that although proceedings aimed at revoking the distribution license of Czech energy company ČEZ have been launched, a final decision has not been made. The regulator announced that it will continue to look into possible wrongdoings and will hold hearings with the company’s shareholders in April. Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek denied the allegations of the Bulgarian authorities that ČEZ broke a number of regulations while operating in the country.
A government bill aimed at regulating the anonymous holding of shares was passed by the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday evening. Critics say the current widespread use of undocumented bearer bonds in the Czech Republic facilitates corruption. Under the new legislation, firms will have to register shares at a central depositary or lodge them in document form at a bank. However, the opposition Social Democrats say the bill does not go far enough; they plan to amend it when it goes before the Senate, which they dominate.
TOP 09 would be the second biggest party in the lower house, if parliamentary elections were held today, according to the polling agency STEM. A February poll revealed that TOP 09 had gained the lead on the centre-right with a 14.2% support rating, while its main partner in government, the Civic Democrats, had a mere 11.6%, which is only three tenths of a percentage point ahead of the Communist Party. The Social Democrats, who would win the elections, are supported by 28.2% of respondents.