Calls to diversify gas supplies away from Russia
Central European EU states have called for diversification of gas supplies away from Russia after Moscow's decision to halt deliveries to Ukraine affected other countries in central and eastern Europe. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria are to discuss energy security on Tuesday, with diversification seen high on the agenda. The Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes wrote in its Tuesday edition that following the disruption of supplies to this part of Europe, Russia's declaration that it is a reliable energy source best suited to meet growing EU demand can no longer be taken at face value.
Deficit in public spending lower than expected
The deficit in public finances for 2005 is lower than originally expected. The Czech Finance Ministry reports a deficit of 56.4 billion crowns, which is 27.2 billion crowns less than the projected figure approved by parliament. Tax revenues last year reached a record 459 billion crowns, that's some 53 billion crowns more than in the previous year. Finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he expected the positive trend to continue.
Jiri Havel appointed deputy prime minister for the economy
Jiri Havel has been appointed deputy prime minister for the economy. He replaces Martin Jahn, who announced his decision to leave politics for the private sector two months ago. Jiri Havel, formerly head of the National Property Fund, was handpicked for the post by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. The Prime Minister described Mr. Havel as an experienced professional whose views of the world were very close to his own. Jiri Havel is a member of the ruling Social Democratic party.
Heavy snowfall causes problems in south Bohemia
Heavy snowfall has slowed down traffic in south Bohemia and there have been power cuts in many parts of the region. Many roads are impassable and have had to be closed down. Fallen trees are also complicating rail transport and although trains are still running there are long delays. Maintenance crews are out in force to try and get the situation under control.
Poland to declassify secret Warsaw Pact files
Poland is to declassify nearly all its secret files from the Warsaw Pact, the former military alliance of the Soviet block. The Polish Defence Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Tuesday that more than 90 percent of the documents would be declassified and handed over to the Polish Institute of National Remembrance. Historians believe that the files could shed more light on the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 which crushed the Prague Spring reform movement.
Wednesday is expected to be overcast with more snow showers and day temperatures ranging from 1 to minus 3 degrees Celsius. More snow is expected in the coming days.