The Czech Republic faces no immediate terror threat, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said after Thursday’s meeting of the government’s intelligence council. Mr Nečas said the preventive measures adopted after a recent warning issued by the US authorities were sufficient. After Washington warned European countries on Sunday of an increased risk of terrorist attacks, the Czech government heightened security checks at Prague’s Ruzyně airport and other international airports in the country. The authorities have also reinforced protection of government buildings, embassies and other sensitive institutions in the capital.
The Czech Republic’s industrial output grew by 12.9 percent in August year-on-year, according to government figures released on Thursday. Compared to July, industrial output grew by 5.3 percent. Analysts say August growth exceeded expectations due to revived demand from abroad in the automotive, metalworking and electronic sectors. The volume of new orders climbed by over 22 percent year-on year while orders from abroad rose by more than 20 percent. In related news, the country’s foreign trade surplus in August dropped to 0.5 billion crowns; exports increased by 23 percent while imports by just over 30 percent.
One of the Social Democrat ballot leaders in Prague, Miroslav Poche, will quit all party positions over tax evasion on his donation to the party. The daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Thursday that Mr Poche, who is the deputy chair of the Prague Social Democrats, donated 300,000 crowns to the party but split the sum to avoid taxation. The head of the Social Democrats in Prague, Petr Hulínský, said Mr Poche breached party principles and will have to step down. Social Democrat leaders are yet to decide whether he will be allowed to remain on the ballot for the upcoming local elections.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Thursday his government would come up with measures to curb electricity price hikes caused by generous state support for solar power. As of January 2011, electricity prices are expected to increase by around 12 percent for households and 17 percent for companies. Mr Nečas said that concrete steps should be announced next week. For his part, the head of the country’s energy regulatory authority, Jopsef Fiřt, said on Thursday a new bill would introduce a price cap for energy from renewable sources; however, this would only apply to energy sources connected to the grid after the bill is passed.
A group of experts from Canada is set to arrive in the Czech Republic in November to study the country’s treatment of its minorities, Czech Interior Minister Radek John told reporters after Thursday’s meeting of EU interior ministers in Luxembourg. The experts will look into the situation of the Romany minority to see whether it enjoys sufficient protection. Their visit could be the first step in lifting Canadian visas for Czech nationals, Mr John said.
Ottawa re-introduced visas for Czech last July over large numbers of Czech citizens applying for asylum in Canada, many of them Romanies.
If general elections had been held in late September, the centre-right coalition of the Civic Democrats and the TOP 09 and Public Affairs parties would lose 13 out of its 188 seats in the lower house of the Czech Parliament, according to a new poll by the Factum Invenio agency released on Thursday. The opposition Social Democrats would win the elections with 56 seats in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies; the Civic Democrats would come second with 50 seats, followed by TOP 09 with 38. The Christian Democrats, who did not pass the 5-percent threshold in May’s elections, would gain nine seats on the lower house.
Prague City Gallery workers on Thursday began preparing the controversial relocation of the Slav Epic, a series of 20 large canvases by the Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha, from the town of Moravský Krumlov to the capital. Several dozen people protested the move. The preparations should take about three weeks; after that, the Slav Epic should be relocated to Prague where it should be featured in a new exhibition.
Alphonse Mucha bestowed the Slav Epic to the city of Prague on condition it would build a special pavilion for it. That has never happened, and the cycle has been on display in Moravský Krumlov for nearly 50 years. When Prague City Hall requested the return of the paintings earlier this year, Moravský Krumlov blocked the move; however, a local court cancelled the restraining order in September. The governor of the South Moravian region appealed on Thursday to Prague authorities to stop the relocation.
The total area of Moravian and Bohemian vineyards has almost tripled over the last 90 years, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Thursday. The area grew from less than 6,000 hectares in 1920 to over 16,000 hectares last year. Wine consumption has also risen – from five litres per capita in 1948 to more than 16 litres in 2008. A vast majority – some 95 percent – of Czech vineyards are located in Moravia. Last year, Czech winemakers produced a record 840,000 hectolitres of wine.
The New York Philharmonic, the San Francisco Symphony and the American actor John Malkovich are among the guests of next year’s Prague Spring music festival, organizers said on Wednesday. The country’s biggest classical music festival, which will take place in Prague in May and June 2011, will focus on the work of composer Gustav Mahler. Hollywood star John Malkovich will bring his project, The Confessions of a Serial Killer, to the festival. The show is directed and narrated by the actor; it is based on the real-life story of an Austrian serial killer, and it features the Wiener Akademie Orchestra.
Ahead of Friday’s qualifying game for the European Championship 2012 between the Czech Republic and Scotland, the manager of the Czech national football team Michal Bílek said the Czechs were under more pressure than their opponents. The Scottish team won four points out of its two games while the Czechs only played a single game, which they lost. However, Bílek said than any other result than victory would seriously hinder the Czech campaign for Euro 2012
The end of the week will be overcast with occasional rain and fog. Daytime highs should range between 11 and 16 degrees Celsius.