Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, who is currently in the Philippines during his official trip to Asia, met with senior politicians in Manila on Monday. The main topics of discussion were a possible supply of weapons from Czech firms and the sale of more Czech trams that are already a part of the Manila public transport system. On behalf of the Czech Defence Ministry, Mr Svoboda also met with Defence Minister Eduardo Ermita to sign a bilateral co-operation agreement and offer the sale of Czech firearms and L-159 fighter jets. Mr Svoboda and his delegation will travel to Australia on Tuesday.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus signed a law on Monday, guaranteeing all former presidents of the Czech Republic 100,000 Czech crowns a month. Up-to-date, the law only affects former president Vaclav Havel, who as of March this year, will be receiving a 50,000 crown pension and a further 50,000 crowns a month that is to be used for the operation of his office. Despite the cost of running his office totalling 150,000 crowns a month, Mr Havel welcomes the new law, his spokesman said on Monday.
In 2003, eleven countries on four continents were given humanitarian aid from the Czech government worth 40 million crowns (some 1.5 million US dollars), the Foreign Ministry announced on Monday. The countries in question are war-torn Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, and Liberia, flood-affected Argentina, Sri Lanka, Romania, and Mongolia, earthquake-hit Algeria, and Georgia, where some inhabitants lacked basic food and heating in the winter months. The Foreign Ministry said that the states expenses in earthquake-hit Iran and parts of flooded France last year will be calculated into this year's budget. But according to Simon Panek from the humanitarian organisation People in Need, the Czech government is doing little to help other countries and should be providing humanitarian aid worth at least 100 million crowns a year.
International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Horst Kohler, has said that the countries of central and eastern Europe would see their economies grow when they adopt the Euro. Speaking at a conference in Prague on Monday, Mr Kohler stressed that the adoption of the Euro increases trade, lowers transaction costs, and reduces market risks. He added that his predictions are backed by analyses, which have proven that in the long-term, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of most of central Europe would rise by 20 to 25 percent. The Czech Republic is expected to adopt the Euro in 2009, at the earliest.
The economic magazine, Euro, reports in this week's issue that the Czech government could soon be making plans to bail out the ailing Aero Vodochody aircraft manufacturer. Euro writes that the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Trade and Industry have drawn up a document, containing possible ways of clearing Aero's several billion crown debt. While it proposes to revoke guarantees for loans, it does not propose to scrap loss-making production programmes. In 1998, the US company Boeing became Aero's strategic investor, with the goal to help the Czech aircraft manufacturer penetrate foreign markets and increase orders. Aero, however, continues to lack profit-making orders. In December, the government rejected a request from Boeing to cover the accumulated debts.
Tuesday is expected to be much like Monday, with overcast skies and occasional showers and temperatures reaching a maximum of 12 degrees Celsius.
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