News

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Constitutional Court rejects reform complaint

The Constitutional Court rejected on Thursday the first of several complaints filed by the opposition Social Democrats about the fiscal reform package adopted in 2007. The strongest opposition party had asked the Constitutional Court to abolish the reform act because they believed it was adopted in violation of the constitution. The Court rejected the complaint saying that no law was breached. The verdict diminishes the chances for success of other complaints about the fiscal reform as the Constitutional Court will no longer be reviewing the legislative procedure leading to the adoption of the reform bill.

MEPs criticize planned US missile shield

Several members of the European Parliament in Brussels have criticized the US plan to position parts of its missile defence system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Green MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit said on Wednesday that the plan to site a radar base in the Czech Republic and ten intercepting rockets in Poland would have a serious impact on the security of the entire European Union. The missile defence system is bad, said Mr Cohn-Bendit, and will have counter-productive consequences. Jan Marinus Wiersma, the deputy chairman of the EP’s socialist fraction, said that the missile shield does not fit the European security strategy.

In related news, the Czech Republic was criticized by the European Parliament for failing to address the issue of a pig farm constructed on the site of a wartime Roma concentration camp. Czech authorities say they don’t have the funds needed to remove the farm and erect a memorial to the Roma victims of the camp.

Klaus: EU climate package is ‘tragedy’

President Václav Klaus has called the EU climate package a ‘tragedy’. In an interview for the German financial daily Handelsblatt on Thursday, Mr Klaus said that the set of regulations adopted by the European Union in an effort to tackle climate change is a ‘tragic mistake’. The President hopes that the Czech and other EU countries’ governments will stand up against these ‘bureaucratic ideas’. Mr Klaus also challenged the idea of thawing icebergs, saying that it only happens in films by Al Gore. The former US vice-president, according to Václav Klaus, represents a threat to freedom.

Czech MOD to resume talks with Steyr

The Czech Defence Ministry will resume negotiations with the Austrian arms producer Steyr on the delivery of armoured personnel carriers for the Czech Army, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said on Wednesday. If no agreement is reached by March 5, the government will initiate another public tender for a supplier of the APCs. The government withdrew from the original contract with Steyr for 199 APCs in December last year due to the failure by the Austrian manufacturer to meet conditions in the deal.

In related news, the Finnish weapons producer Patria has offered to supply the Czech Army with its own armoured vehicles. The Finnish manufacturer said that the first 30 armoured vehicles could be delivered within three to four months.

Finance Ministry: Czech economy grew by 6.1 percent in 2007

The Finance Ministry raised on Thursday its estimate of the Czech economy growth for 2007 from 5.9 to 6.1 percent. The Ministry said that the Czech economy is reaching the climax of the economic cycle and beginning to confront its limits set by the lack of a qualified workforce. The Ministry also estimates that the country’ economic growth in 2008 will be 4.7 percent, which is lower than the originally estimated 5.1 percent. This will be due to fiscal reforms adopted by the government last year which are expected to cause a drop in consumption.

CNN: Czech prostitutes hired in Britain

Czech prostitutes are hired to work in British brothels, CNN reported on Wednesday. A CNN reporter posing as a British brothel owner interested in hiring prostitutes for work in Britain contacted the management of several Czech brothels in and around Teplice, North Bohemia. They offered the undercover reporter two girls for several thousand pounds and a percentage of their earnings in Britain. One of the Czech brothel owners indicated that he had previously supplied a girl to work in a brothel in Manchester.

Prague municipal policeman charged with murder of US citizen

A member of the Prague municipal police who stabbed a US citizen to death in Prague on Wednesday has been charged with murder. The 27-year-old officer, who was drunk and off-duty when the incident happened, reportedly attacked the 44-year-old American after a fight broke out over they way the victim had parked his car.

Martin Jahn to head VW in Russia

Martin Jahn, former deputy PM and director of the CzechInvest agency, will become the general director of the Volkswagen Group in Russia in April. Mr. Jahn, who is 38, has been on the board of directors of Škoda Auto, a member of the Volkswagen Group, since 2006. Volkswagen, the largest car maker in Europe, opened a car factory in the Moscow area last year; it is expected to produce up to 150,000 Volkswagen and Škoda models by 2009.

Number of railway passengers up in 2007

Czech Railways transported 181.9 million passengers in 2007, which was one million more than in the previous year. The company’s management attributes the rise in the number of passengers to the modernization of the railways cars as well as the financial convenience of this type of public transport. Despite the modernization programme, the obsolete car park remains the Czech Railways’ most serious challenge.

Police dog dies after vet refuses to treat it

A vet in Česká Lípa, North Bohemia, refused on Thursday to treat an injured police dog which died as a result. The town’s municipal police approached the vet after the dog was hit by a car. The veterinary declined to treat it because his car had been towed by the police in December last year. The police filed a complaint about the incident vet with the regional veterinary authority; the animal doctor is facing a fine and a disciplinary action.

Jarošík set for Samara

Czech footballer Jiří Jarošík is set to leave Celtic Glasgow, where he has been playing since 2006, and move on to the Russian club Soviet Wings Samara. The former member of the Czech national team spent two seasons in the Russian first division, winning the title with CSKA Moscow in 2003. No financial details were given but it is estimated that the Russian club had to pay about one million euro for the Czech midfielder.

Weather

The end of the week should see cloudy skies with occasional rain showers and the highest day temperatures ranging between 3 and 7 degrees centigrade.