The Czech Republic does not support the Palestinian plea for independence, Prime Minister Petr Nečas said after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau in Jerusalem on Thursday. At a news conference, both officials said their countries did not back such unilateral steps as dialogue was the only way ahead. However, Mr Nečas declined to say whether the Czech Republic will back the Palestinian plea in an upcoming vote in the UN.
The Czech prime minister is in Israel for a two-day official visit, accompanied by four of his cabinet ministers as well as by a number of Czech business people and entrepreneurs.
Former number two of the Czech energy giant ČEZ, Daniel Beneš, became on Thursday the firm’s new CEO. Mr Beneš, who until now served as the vice chair of ČEZ’s board of directors and the firm’s executive director was elected the new executive officer following the surprising resignation of former CEO Martin Roman. Mr Roman said he left the post at his own request; however, Czech media speculated that a number of reasons might have triggered the move, including Mr Roman’s indirect involvement in the multi-billion state clean-up tender and ČEZ’s opposition to the government’s plan to sell emissions permits. Martin Roman, who became the ČEZ chief executive in 2004, is now reportedly set to become the head of the firm’s board of supervisors.
The Czech Republic’s public debt rose to over 1.4 trillion crowns, or nearly 80 billion US dollars, in the first six months of this year, according to figures released by the Czech Finance Ministry on Thursday. The debt amounts to just below 42 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The Czech internal debt rose by 72 billion to 1.1 trillion crowns between January and July while the country’s external debt dropped by 3.2 billion to over 304 billion crowns.
The Czech Finance Ministry said on Thursday it would issue a pilot emission of bonds for individuals on November 11. The ministry will offer three types of bonds with maturity of one and five years. The yields of the pilot emission bonds will be 2 percent. People will be able to buy the bonds at branches of the ČSOB, Česká spořitelna and Komerční banka banks at one crown apiece; the minimum purchase is set at 1,000 crowns. If successful, the ministry plans to issue standard series of bonds for individuals in 2012.
A committee of the Czech lower house on Thursday fined junior coalition Public Affairs MP Jan Drastichová 10,000 crowns, or over 560 US dollars, for tampering with her colleagues’ voting cards. In a vote on extending last week’s session of the lower house, Ms Drastichová removed the cards of her party colleagues to lower the quorum needed for approving the motion. The MP apologised and admitted having misunderstood the proper procedure; the lower house committee said her action was an offence but did not constitute a criminal act, a claim put forth by the opposition.
The number of suicides in the Czech Republic in 2010 rose slightly to 1502 cases, the Czech Statistical Office said on Thursday; there were 48 more suicides last year than in 2009. The number of suicides has risen for the third time in succession after hitting a historic low in 2007. Czech men are much more likely to commit suicide that women; the highest figures were registered on Mondays. Suicide by hanging is by the far the most common, followed by shooting and poisoning.
The National Tissue Bank, which will preserve tissue and cell transplants and supply them to Czech hospitals, opened in the Moravian city of Brno on Thursday. The construction of the facility cost 420 million crowns, around half of which was covered by EU funds. The new centre is owned by a private firm where the state has a 24-percent stake. While Health Minister Leoš Heger, who attended the facility’s opening, welcomed its establishment, a number of experts criticized the fact it is not completely state-owned.
Three Czech tourists were killed and a number of others injured in a bus crash near the town of Grenova in northern Greece late Wednesday. The mini-bus was carrying 21 Czech tourists on their way to a nearby holiday resort when it collided with another vehicle, swerved off the road and caught fire. Two young women were reportedly killed on impact, a third tourist, a middle-aged man, succumbed to his injuries several hours later in hospital. A fourth Czech remains in critical condition. The bus was dispatched by the tourist agency Nikolas Tours.
Dozens of people, including some of the biggest names in the Czech show business, came to pay their last respects to the late lyrics writer Pavel Vrba who died last week at the age of 73. Mr Vrba authored the lyrics to more than 2000 songs over his long career that began in the early 1960s. The ceremony was attended by singers Lucie Bílá, Helena Vondráčková, Marta Kubišová and other artists who sang his lyrics.
Prague football clubs Sparta and Slavia filed a lawsuit on Thursday against the Czech football association over its recent sacking of the head of the referee committee, Luděk Macela. The clubs managers said Mr Macela had been fired in breach of the FA’s statutes. The lawsuit comes a day before the Czech football association is set to vote on its new chair.
The next few days will be mostly clear with some cloudy spots and occasional fog. Daytime highs should range between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.