News

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EU urges Prague to cut its public finance deficit down to EU limits

The Czech Republic has failed to take the necessary steps to cut its deficit in public finances down to EU limits, the European Commission said on Wednesday, urging Prague to increase its efforts. The European Union launched legal action against the Czech Republic in 2004, giving the country until 2008 to bring its deficit into line with an EU limit of three percent of GDP. Although the deficit was brought down to 2.9 percent last year, it is expected to balloon again this year due to higher spending. The government's current budget plans foresee reducing the deficit to 3.2 percent in 2009 even though the country is enjoying stronger-than-expected economic growth and equally robust tax revenues.

General Vacek brazens out cooperation with communist counter-intelligence

The first post-communist defense minister Miroslav Vacek has brazened out his cooperation with the communist military counter-intelligence service, saying there had been nothing secret about it. He told journalists he was proud of his past including his cooperation in various high posts with the military counter-intelligence service which he later headed as defense minister in 1989-1990. "I feel offended that someone should consider me a mere collaborator - in view of my posts, I headed the military counter intelligence," General Vacek said. He said he had never actually signed a secret cooperation agreement with the counter-intelligence service because his office was so high. General Vacek said that reproaching him for cooperation with the counter-intelligence was like reproaching the Pope for having served as an alter boy.

The military intelligence announced on Tuesday that it had found proof that two former post-revolution ministers had cooperated with the communist secret police. One was general Vacek, the other former interior minister Richard Sacher. It has now emerged that one of the new deputies of the police president Tomas Kuzel likewise worked for the communist secret police.

American man with "super TB" took flight from Prague

A man who flew on a Czech Airlines plane from Prague to Montreal has been placed in isolation because he was infected with a strain of tuberculosis which is extremely hard to treat. The man, a US citizen, was on CSA flight 0104 from Prague Airport on May 24. There were 187 passengers on the plane - they have been advised to undergo medical checkups.

Ivo Schmarz appointed director of civilian intelligence

The Czech government has appointed Ivo Schmarz as the new director of the country's civilian intelligence service. He replaces Jiri Lang who temporarily headed the service after its former director Karel Randak was dismissed last year. Lang remains head of the civilian counter-intelligence service BIS.

Second gorilla born at Prague Zoo

A gorilla has been born at Prague Zoo. The birth took place just after midnight, the zoo's director Petr Fejk told reporters. He said it as a smooth birth and lasted only 15 seconds, adding that the baby was in good health. Two years ago the ape's mother Kijivu gave birth to Moja, the first gorilla born in the Czech Republic. Prague Zoo's gorillas appeared in the media around the world after being featured in The Uncovered, an on-line parody of a Big Brother type reality TV programme.

EU regulators approve Prague municipal WiFi network

EU regulators have approved a project by Prague authorities for a free municipal wireless Internet service, but only after the scheme was modified to allow access only to public-sector websites. The European Commission launched a probe after receiving competition complaints from private operators about the project, which aims to cover a third of Prague with a WiFi local area Internet network. Municipal authorities revised their plans after the Commission ruled that the original project "could have crowded out investment from private operators by providing unrestricted free or subsidised Internet access to the public". The project will have a budget of 12 million euros over five years.

President Klaus remains most trustworthy politician

Czech President Vaclav Klaus remains the most popular and trusted politician in the Czech Republic. According to the results of a survey conducted by the CVVM agency a total of 68 percent of Czechs trust the president. Ombudsman Otakar Motejl got the second highest rating - 65 percent, while Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova came third with 52 percent. Mrs. Parkanova is the first woman ever to head the Czech military.

Most Czechs not willing to donate organs for transplant

Only 44 percent of Czechs are willing to donate their organs for transplant after their death, which is one of the lowest figures compared to other EU member states, according to a poll released by the Eurobarometer EU polling agency on wednesday. On average, 56 percent of all EU inhabitants would donate their organs for transplant. Ten people die in the EU a day over the lack of organs for transplant. About 40,000 people are now waiting for transplants in Europe.

Czech competition offices clears Eiffage takeover of Tchas

The Czech competition office on Wednesday approved a bid by French building sector giant Eiffage Construction to acquire Czech counterpart Tchas. Tchas, the last major Czech building company still in local hands, announced at the start of April that Eiffage had purchased a majority shareholding. The stake and financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

Weather

The weather should gradually improve in the coming days, with less rain and more sunny spells. Daytime highs should reach 26 degrees Celsius at the close of the week.