Daily news summary News

24-05-2011

President Klaus: Czechs won’t adopt euro in foreseeable future

The Czech Republic won’t adopt the common European currency in the foreseeable future, President Václav Klaus said on Tuesday. Speaking during an official visit to Belgium, Mr Klaus added he had for over two decades been warning against possible risks of introducing a common European currency in a “very heterogeneous group” of countries. The Czech Republic has set no definite benchmark for the adoption of the euro although it is bound to introduce the single European currency by its EU-accession treaty. This year, popular support for the move among Czechs sank to 43 percent, the lowest level since 2005.

Austrian court seizes Czech-owned art works in arbitration case

A court in the Austrian capital Vienna seized three Czech-owned modernist works of art in a protracted arbitration case against the Czech Republic, the weekly Ekonom reported on Tuesday. The court upheld a claim made by the Swiss firm Diag Human; the company demands a compensation of around 9 billion crowns, or over 500 million US dollars, from the Czech state for allegedly harming its blood plasma business in the country in the 1990s. In 2008, a court of arbitration ruled in favour of the firm but Czech authorities say the decision has not yet come into force. A Diag Human layer said the Czech Republic now has four weeks to appeal the Viennese court’s decision.

The three Czech state-owned artefacts – two paintings by Emil Filla and Vincenc Beneš and a statue by Otto Guttfreund – were featured in an exhibition at Vienna’s Belveder Gallery, on loan from the Moravian Gallery in Brno.

Poll: Bribery justifiable for 23 percent of Czech managers

Around 23 percent of Czech managers consider bribery a justifiable way of gaining and keeping contracts, according to a new Europe-wide poll by the Ernst&Young firm released on Tuesday. More than 50 percent of those polled also said unethical practices were acceptable to meet the company’s financial goals under difficult economic circumstances. Some 5 percent of managers who took part in the survey said they were willing to lie about their company’s performance in order not to undermine its growth. The results put Czechs in the middle of 25 European nations where the poll was conducted, along with Spaniards. The poll suggested that the European average was 18 percent.

Coalition Public Affairs party chair Radek John re-elected

The chairman of the coalition Public Affairs party, Radek John has been re-elected to his post in an online vote in which some 1,200 party members – 40 percent of those entitled – took part. The results were announced on Monday night. The head of the party’s parliamentary club, Karolína Peake, came in a close second with 976 votes; she will be now appointed deputy chairwoman. However, most commentators point out that real power within the party rests with its founder and unofficial leader Vít Bárta who did not run for the position.

After the vote, the re-elected leader said his party would no longer make concessions to its partners in the coalition cabinet. In the wake of a recent crisis within the Czech centre-right government, two out of four Public Affairs ministers resigned.

Archbishop Otčenášek dies at 91

Archbishop Karel Otčenášek, a former bishop of Hradec Králové, died on Monday at the age of 91. One of the top figures of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Otčenášek was named a bishop in secret in 1950 and spent more than 10 years in communist prisons. After an amnesty in 1962 he was freed and worked in a dairy plant, only returning to ecclesiastical life in 1965. He became the 23rd bishop of the Hradec Králové diocese, in eastern Bohemia, in 1990, a post he held until his retirement eight years later. On the occasion of his 90th birthday last year, Czech President Václav Klaus called the archbishop “an absolutely exceptional national figure” and an important moral authority.

Tractor-maker Zetor signs Iraq deal

The Brno-based tractor-maker Zetor signed a 800-million crown deal with Iraq’s State Company for Mechanical Industry, a Zetor manager said on Tuesday. Under the contract, the Czech firm will supply 1,500 components to Iraq where the tractors will be assembled. The Czech producer Zetor would like to re-establish itself on the Iraqi market; the firm estimates that around 60,000 old Zetor tractors are still in use in the country, and has developed a new model for the region. The deal was sealed on the second day of Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas’ visit to Iraq. The Czech Republic was also hoping to sell up to 24 L-159 jets to the Iraqi air force.

Google allowed to continue Street View

Google has been allowed to expand its Street View feature in the Czech Republic after agreeing to the country’s privacy watchdog’s conditions. A spokeswoman for the Czech Office for Personal Data Protection said Google agreed to lower the cameras on its cars by at least 30 cm and to inform local authorities of imaging in their districts, and avoid school buildings at times when pupils gather in front of them. Google will also have to review within 48 hours any demands to have certain images blurred. The Czech privacy watchdog banned Google from expanding last September; Google Street View is now available for most of Prague and parts of Brno, Olomouc and Český Krumlov.

Thailand extradites Czech criminals

Thailand has extradited two Czech nationals who were on the run to avoid serving full jail sentences for stealing millions of crowns from a cash transport in 2008. A spokesman for Czech police said on Monday that Josef Blažek and Rudolf Tesárek arrived in the Czech Republic on Monday and were put in custody. Last year, the two men landed ten-year prison sentences for stealing 74 million crowns, or more than 4.2 million US dollars, from a cash transport van. They served a year of their sentences when then justice minister Daniela Kovářová ordered their temporary release amidst concerns of a judicial error. By the time Kovářová’s successor reversed the order, both men had disappeared. The two men were arrested in Thai city of Pattaya earlier this month on an Interpol warrant with the help of Austrian police.

Football: Slavia Prague licensed to play top division

The Czech football association on Tuesday granted the debt-stricken club Slavia Prague a licence to play in the country’s top division next season. Earlier this month, however, it faced relegation when the FA refused to licence it over Slavia’s unclear ownership structure and financial difficulties. But the football association changed its decision after a new investor took over, and paid some of the debts. Slavia Prague, one of the Czech Republic’s most traditional clubs, ranks 10th in this season’s league table.

Tennis: Tomáš Berdych knocked out of French Open

Czech tennis number one Tomáš Berdych was knocked out from the first round of the French Open on Monday after he lost 3:6, 3:6, 6:2, 6:2, 9:7 to France’s qualifier Stephane Robert. Berdych, seeded sixth at Roland Garros, won the first two sets but then his opponent got into the game and eventually stunned the erratic Czech. After the game, 25-year-old Berdych, ranked sixth in the ATP tour, said he found no defence against the Frenchman’s serve, and that it was his worst defeat in the season.

Weather

Nice weather with partly cloudy skies is set to continue until the end of the week, with daytime highs of around 25 degrees Celsius.

24-05-2011