Following a fast strengthening to an all-time high of 31.00 crowns per euro on Friday morning, the Czech crown returned to its opening level of 31.15 crowns per euro and closed at 31.10 crowns per euro at 5:00 pm. Experts ascribe the strengthening to the positive GDP results for the year 2001.
The Czech government has alleviated NATO concerns that its plan to buy new fighter jets might slow down army reforms which the alliance sees as a top priority, according to a Friday statement by the Czech Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik. Czechs are expected to finish talks with the Anglo-Swedish consortium BAE-Saab by mid-April and buy 24 new Gripen supersonic fighters to replace an obsolete fleet of Soviet-made airplanes. NATO has criticised the slow pace of reforms by its three new members, but Tvrdik said the army is gradually persuading the alliance that it is on the right track to transformation.
On Friday, the Czech Lower House passed an amended bill which will allow Holocaust survivors and their heirs to claim back works of art seized during the Nazi occupation until the end of 2006. The amendment, which was put forward by the Czech Federation of Jewish Communities, has yet to be approved by the Senate and the President. The original deadline for claims was set for the end of 2002.
The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said on Friday that the government will not sell its stake in the Czech telecommunications company Cesky Telecom for less than 80 billion Czech crowns. Otherwise the privatisation will be postponed. Mr Zeman also noted that last year, the cabinet successfully sold gas importer Transgas and eight regional gas distributors for 130 billion Czech crowns. On the other hand, all bids for the power utility CEZ and six regional distribution companies were below the sum of 200 billion Czech crowns, which the government had set as the bottom limit, and therefore CEZ has not been sold.
Now a quick look at the weather forecast for the coming weekend. Friday night will be overcast with temperatures between 4 and 0 degrees Celsius. Saturday should be cloudy with snow in places and temperatures ranging from 3 to 7 degrees Celsius. Sunday will also be cloudy with daytime highs of 5 degrees Celsius.