The new planned EU treaty which would impose tighter fiscal rules on national governments should only involve members of the eurozone, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas said after meeting his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán in Budapest on Thursday. The Czech prime minister is in Hungary for a brief working visit, consulting his country’s position on the planned EU strategy to save the euro. The officials also discussed their countries’ potential participation in the EU loan to the International Monetary Fund. For his part, the Hungarian prime minister hinted they should wait by saying the situation needed the coolness of Czech beer rather than the sharpness of Hungarian spirits. Over the phone, Mr Nečas also consulted the developments with British PM David Cameron on Thursday.
The Czech government has adopted a cautious approach to both the planned treaty and the loan to the IMF; on Wednesday, Mr Nečas said they needed more information before they were prepared to commit to either of them.
The Czech Statistical Office on Thursday released preliminary results of the 2011 population census. According to the figures, the Czech Republic has just over 10.5 million inhabitants, some 330,000 more than ten years ago. The figure has risen mainly due to an influx of foreigners whose numbers increased by 260 percent compared to the previous census. Ukrainians form the country’s largest minority, with 117,000 members, followed by Slovaks and Vietnamese. Around 6.7 million people declared themselves to be ethnic Czechs, while over 2.7 million people did not state their ethnicity at all. The number of people who consider themselves Moravian rose to over 500,000. Only 13,500 people said they were Romany while unofficial estimates put the numbers of Romanies at between 150,000 and 300,000. The census also found that the number of university graduates rose by nearly 50 percent over last decade.
In related news, nearly half of Czechs are not affiliated with any religion, according to this year’s population census released on Thursday. The results show that just over 10.5 million people live in the Czech Republic while 4.8 million people did not state their religion in the census questionnaires. The highest number of Czechs – around 1.1 million – claimed allegiance with the Roman Catholic Church, followed by the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, with over 50.000 affiliates. Some 3.6 million Czechs stated they had no religious faith while around 15,000 people declared themselves to be supporters of Jediism, a fictional movement inspired by the Star Wars saga.
The international consultancy firm Ernst & Young on Thursday forecast a 0.3 percent growth of the Czech GDP next year. The main factors include a lower GDP forecast for Germany and the Czech government’s austerity measures. The company said that in 2013, the Czech economy might grow by 1.3 percent and the GDP growth could reach 2.5 to 3 percent in the following years. The Czech Finance Ministry estimates that next year, the country’s economy will grow by around 1 percent.
Young Christian Democrats, the youth wing of the Czech political party, have filed a petition with the Culture Ministry to cancel the registration of the country’s Muslim community over alleged anti-Semitic preaching. The news website idnes.cz reported on Thursday the group reacted to a sermon delivered at a mosque in Brno in 2008 that recently appeared on the internet and which quoted a prophecy calling for the killing of Jews. The head of the country’s Muslim community, Hassan Muneeb Alrawi said he considered the move a “targeted attack”.
A 12-year-old boy from Orlová, in northern Moravia, received on Thursday an award for bravery, presented by the Czech TV station Nova. In March, the boy was at home with his sick father, a little sister and grandparents when their house caught fire. He managed to get everyone safely out of the house but his 22-year-old brother who is confined to a wheelchair; he therefore sealed the windows in his room to prevent the smoke from getting in before he called the fire brigade.
Czech and Slovak police on Thursday arrested a group of Czech and Slovak citizens who wanted to smuggle unspecified nuclear material into the Czech Republic, the head of Slovak police said. The material, worth some 500,000 euro, reportedly came from one of the former Soviet Union countries. Members of the group now face between three and ten years in jail.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová has been nominated for the international Laureus award in the category of best sportswoman of the year and the breakthrough of the year. The Wimbledon champion and winner of the end of season WTA championships said she was surprised by her nomination for the awards that will be handed out in London in February. The 21-year-old Czech, ranked second in the world, has been named the ITF’s woman tennis player of the year, and might yet win the Czech Republic’s annual Sportsperson of the Year contest.
Striker Libor Kozák, who played just six matches for Lazio this season in the top Italian football league (five of those as a substitute) helped his team advance to the round of 32 in the Europa League on Wednesday. The striker scored once in the squad’s 2:0 defeat of Group D winner Sporting Lisbon to clinch the second qualifying spot. Lazio finished with nine points compared to the group leader’s 12. Kozák’s goal came in the first half while Sculli added a second in the final 45 minutes. Lazio had begun the day tied with Romania’s Vaslui, who finished 3rd, after losing to Zurich.
Chelsea FC and Czech international goalkeeper Petr Čech finished first in the autumn part of the Golden Ball award, a Czech poll among sports reporters. The 29-year-old goalie came in five points ahead of Viktoria Plzeň midfielder Petr Jiráček and striker David Lafata of Jablonec at third place. Petr Čech has won the Czech Golden Ball award six times in the past.
The end of the week will be mainly overcast, with rain setting in from the west. Meteorologists have warned against strong winds that will hit the country on Friday and Saturday. Daytime highs should range between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.