The US convoy which spent the day in Prague on Tuesday attracted crowds of people to the army’s Ruzyně barracks. Hundreds of people, including families with children, braved the cold weather cuing up in wind and rain to greet the troops and inspect US military technology close-up. The US troops also got a visit from Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Defense Minister Martin Stropnický and the US Ambassador to Prague Andrew Schapiro. Prime Minister Sobotka said that the country’s security was strengthened by the US presence in Europe and he was glad that the majority of Czechs clearly appreciated the fact.
Part of the US convoy travelled to the West Bohemian town of Plzeň to pay homage to the US soldiers who died liberating Czechoslovakia in WWII. Over a thousand people congregated in the streets of the city to greet them as the troops made their way to the Thank You America Memorial to lay wreaths and flowers. The US Ambassador to Prague Andrew Shapiro who was also present said the US soldiers were given a great reception, confirming the people’s strong support for NATO and the US.
President Miloš Zeman has spoken out in favour of creating a joint European military that would be cheaper and more effective than the present system. Mr. Zeman said a European military should help the US in dealing with global threats and crisis situations. It is no longer possible that all problems plaguing Europe be dealt with by the United States. A joint European military would help face aggression better from whatever part of the world it might come, the president said in a statement. President Zeman first broached the idea last year saying that a second NATO pillar – to complement the American one –should have the form of a European military “in harmony with the trend of European integration.”
President Zeman wants to open a debate on a time frame for Czech adoption of the euro, the ctk news agency reports. According to the president’s spokesman Mr. Zeman wants to meet with Prime Minister Sobotka next week to discuss a possible meeting on the euro at Lany Chateau in the coming months. The meeting should be attended by Finance Minister Andrej Babis, the governor of the central bank Miroslav Singer and bank board member Jiri Rusnok. The president has already stated his intention of making Mr. Rusnok central bank governor when Mr. Singer’s term in office expires. He has criticized Mr. Singer’s policy at the head of the central bank and even suggested that he is intentionally putting a brake on the process of preparing for euro adoption. The president and prime minister favour euro adoption and Mr. Zeman would like to see the country adopt the euro by 2017.
Members of TOP 09’s Prague branch have said they are filing a criminal complaint against ANO representative and Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová. They claim that the mayor broke the law and hurt the interests of the city by opting for a new legal team to represent Prague in a legal dispute over the rental of Škodova Palace, owned by Copa Retail. TOP 09 leaders allege the mayor hired lawyers at the recommendation of the other party and went behind the backs of other city councilors. The mayor has denied the allegations saying the law firm in question was chosen according to rules on public tenders.However Prague City Hall announced on Tuesday that it had cancelled the contract with the said firm and would be selecting a new team of lawyers.
All of the country’s so-called “fast communication roads” marked with an R should be transformed into highways as of 2016, according to a proposal by the Czech Transport Ministry. According to Transport Minister Dan Tok, 80 to 90 percent of these roads already fulfill the required criteria for international highways and the remainder will be brought up to the required standard by next year. This would see the country’s highway network which now measures 750km extended to 1,200km and the speed limit on fast communication roads would be increased to 130km per hour.
Gale-force winds sweeping the country since Monday have caused considerable material damage, the ctk news agency reports citing the country’s leading insurance companies. The leading insurer, Česka Pojištovna says that in two days people have filed 160 claims for insurance mainly relating to damaged roofs and cars damaged by falling trees. The company says it expects to pay out around 25 million crowns in insurance in connection with the bad weather.
One man was sent to a hospital and treated for a head injury and another detained after a fracas between the two in the Prague metro on Tuesday morning. The police were called after the two fought and one drew a gas pistol and allegedly threatened passers-by. The incident took place at the Národní třída station on the metro’s “B” line.
Eight people, including one child, were injured in a bus crash in the Zdár region in Moravia early on Tuesday, the ctk news agency reported. None of the injuries are reported to be life-threatening. The intercity bus which was taking commuters to work swerved off the road and crashed into a tree. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
Strong winds and unexpectedly heavy snowfall in parts of the Czech Republic caught motorists off guard on Tuesday morning. Snow drifts led to closure of a part of the D8 highway to Germany, 76 kilometres from the capital, where sections were impassable. Visibility was reported as being a maximum of 30 metres. Traffic slowed on the D1 connecting Prague and Brno; a number of traffic accidents led to traffic jams in places. The capital also saw snowfall and rain early in the day.
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