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Central bank: Forex interventions to continue at least until end of first quarter

The Czech National Bank will continue with its policy of forex interventions at least until the end of the first quarter, central bank governor, Jiří Rusnok said at a press briefing on Monday, following a meeting with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Earlier this month the bank governor said interventions were not likely to end before mid-2017, but there has been speculation they could be cut short earlier after inflation accelerated unexpectedly at the start of the year, coming in above market projections and the Czech National Bank’s target rate. The Czech Statistics Office reported 2.2 percent inflation growth year-on-year in January, up from a 2 percent rise in December. The forex interventions were launched in November 2013 as an instrument for maintaining monetary stability.

Czech MEPs want to soften proposed EU firearms directive

Czech MEPs say they will strive to soften a proposed amendment to the EU firearms directive which aims to tighten controls on the legal acquisition and possession of firearms. One cannot fight against the threat of terrorism by banning legally held weapons, MEPs Jiří Pospíšil and Stanislav Polčák told reporters in Prague on Monday. On the other hand they criticized the recent proposal of Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec for Parliament to pass a constitutional amendment which would allow persons with legally held weapons to use them against terrorists. Mr. Pospíšil, a former Czech justice minister, said it would be ideal to find a sensible compromise, and that Czech MEPs would present a proposal at the March session of the European Parliament.

Czech leaders congratulate Frank-Walter Steinmeier on his election as president

President Milos Zeman has congratulated Frank-Walter Steinmeier on his election as president of Germany and invited him to visit the Czech Republic in 2017. In his message of congratulations, President Zeman said he was delighted by the election of a politician of Mr. Steimeier’s stature to the post and had high praise for his contribution to the positive development of Czech-German relations. Congratulations have also come from Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek who said that Mr. Steinmeier represented a “guarantee of reason and stability needed in today’s world” and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who praised his position on European cooperation and Czech-German relations. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who will take office in mid-March, was Germany’s minister of foreign affairs until last month.

Academics protest against changes to bill on care for national parks

Some of the country’s leading academics and four former environment ministers have protested against a Senate-proposed amendment to the bill on care for national parks. In a petition to the lower house they say that the proposed changes would severely restrict possibilities for environmental protection and would have far-reaching consequences for the country’s nature reserves. The proposed changes go against the latest trends in environmental protection in Europe where countries are increasing the number of nature reserves and the area of no-intervention zones in them, the petition says. The Senate-proposed changes predominantly back the interests of villages located inside nature reserves, plans for local development and the tourist industry.

TOP 09 leader would quit in the event of election failure

The leader of the opposition TOP 09 party Miroslav Kalousek has said he will step down if the party fails in the autumn general elections. Kalousek told the daily Hospodářské noviny that he was hoping for a two-digit result in the elections. A January poll conducted by the STEM agency gave TOP 09 a 4.6 percent trust rating, which would leave the party outside national politics. It would need to cross the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house. The party recently unveiled its long-term programme priorities which includes electronic elections, the adoption of the euro and a living standard comparable to that of Germany.

Czech photographer places second in sports category of World Press Photo

Czech photographer Michael Hanke has placed second in the sports category of the prestigious World Press Photo competition. He entered the contest with a photo from the juniors’ chess tournament. The top prize went to Turkish Associate Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici for a photograph of the drama following the murder of the Russian ambassador in Ankara last year.

Weather forecast

Tuesday should bring clear to partly cloudy skies around the country with daytime highs reaching four degrees Celsius. Night time lows could drop to -6 degrees.