Thursday, April 14, 2011

News 4.14.2011

Copyright (c) 2011 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Thursday, April 14th, 2011

By: Daniela Lazarova

* Coalition leaders have assured President Vaclav Klaus they will
strive to save the pro-reform government.

* Talks on a government re-shuffle have been postponed until Monday to
give party leaderships time to debate the proposed changes.

* Close to 70 percent of Czechs say they do not want the present
coalition government to remain in office.

* Visiting Italian President Georgio Napolitano and Czech President
Vaclav Klaus opened the newly renovated hall at Prague's main railway
station on Thursday.

* The Czech Republic would be prepared to send medical staff to Libya
within a possible humanitarian aid operation in the country.

President Klaus meets with coalition leaders

Coalition leaders on Thursday assured President Vaclav Klaus they would
strive to save the pro-reform government despite a corruption scandal
that has brought it to the brink of collapse. Following a meeting at
Prague Castle Mr. Klaus told journalists that he was relieved to find
that all three party leaders were fully committed to seeking a way out
of the crisis and said they would all have to "back off a little" in
order to find common ground.

President Klaus called the meeting on Wednesday evening saying that it
was essential to find a way out to the crisis since public trust in the
government was badly damaged after weeks of in-fighting and mudslinging.

The ongoing crisis was triggered by a corruption scandal within the
junior coalition party, Public Affairs. Its de facto leader, Transport
Minister Vit Barta, tendered his resignation after being accused of
corruption and having established the party in order to further his own
business interests. The prime minister has also proposed the dismissal
of two of Mr. Barta's closest allies -Interior Minister Radek John and
Education Minister Josef Dobes. A secretly taped conversation between
MP Kristyna Koci and two other former members of Public Affairs has
further complicated the crisis, leading to allegations that the
corruption scandal went beyond the junior coalition party and that Mr.
Necas' Civic Democrats were also involved in it.

Talks postponed until Monday

Talks on a government re-shuffle have been postponed until Monday to
give party leaderships time to debate the proposed changes. After a
brief inconclusive meeting on Thursday Prime Minister Necas said there
was still a long way to go to an agreement. The prime minister said
seven different proposals were now on the table, but more could emerge
over the weekend. The coalition leaders are to meet again on Monday to
try to find a way out of the crisis. If they reach agreement, the
centre-right cabinet will seek a fresh vote of confidence in the lower

Public disgruntled with coalition government

A flash poll commissioned by Czech Television suggests that the
public's patience with the present coalition government is at an end.
According to the poll results, 67 percent of respondents said they did
not want the governing coalition to remain in office. Forty-two percent
of respondent said they were deeply ashamed of their government and 41
percent said they were disappointed with the state of Czech politics.
On the other hand 55 percent of Czechs approve of the way President
Vaclav Klaus has handled the crisis, saying that he was acting in a
reasonable and responsible manner. Individual politicians credit
ratings have also plummeted in the wake of the government crisis.

Italian president opens newly renovated hall of Prague's main railway

Visiting Italian President Georgio Napolitano and Czech President
Vaclav Klaus opened the newly renovated hall at Prague's main railway
station on Thursday. The renovation was financed by the Italian
investment company Grandi Stazioni which has acquired a 30-year lease
on it. President Klaus hailed the project as a successful,
mutually-advantageous bilateral endeavour. The renovation has turned
the once seedy railway station into a modern facility that meets
European standards.

Czechs could send medical staff to Libya within possible humanitarian
aid operation

The Czech Republic would be prepared to send medical staff to Libya
within a possible humanitarian aid operation in the country, the Czech
ambassador to NATO Martin Povejsil said after an informal meeting of
NATO foreign ministers in Berlin on Thursday. He said the launch of
such an operation was conditioned by a request from the United Nations.
Mr. Povejsil was standing in for Czech Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg who could not be present at the talks due to the ongoing
government crisis.

Poll suggests majority of Czech students exposed to sexual harassment

Two-thirds of Czech students say they have experienced some form of
sexual harassment. A survey among female students at an unspecified
Czech university revealed that over 60 percent of them had been exposed
to lewd remarks, sexist jokes and even direct offers of better grades
in exchange for sexual favours. Seventy percent of those polled said
they had no idea how to deal with the situation and either tolerated
such behavior or tried to avoid coming into contact with the offender.

Census deadline

Thursday is the last day when Czechs can hand in their forms in the
2011 population and housing census. The census concerns not just Czech
nationals but foreigners residing in the country as well as those who
are here for a period of over three months. Population and housing
censuses have taken place on Czech territory since 1869 and are
conducted once in ten years. For the first time this year Czechs were
able to fill in their forms on the internet. Forms can also be handed
in at any post office in the country. The results of the census should
be available by the end of the year.

Finance Ministry lowers growth forecasts

The Czech finance ministry said on Thursday it had lowered its economic
growth forecasts for both this year and 2012 on uncertainty about the
global recovery. The growth forecast for this year was cut to 1.9
percent from a previously forecast 2.2 percent, and for 2012 to 2.3
percent from 2.7 percent. The main risk sources for the Czech Republic
are linked to the condition of public budgets and the situation in the
banking sectors of some eurozone countries," the ministry said in a
statement on its website. In 2010, the Czech economy posted 2.3-percent
growth, following a 4.1-percent contraction the year before.

EC may suspend payments into two Czech operational programmes

The European Commission is considering suspending payments into the
Environment and North-West operational programmes run by the Czech
Ministry for Local Development, deputy minister Daniel Braun told the
ctk news agency on Thursday. Mr. Braun said the commission was
reportedly considering the move in connection with cited shortcomings
in management. Earlier this week the European Commission suspended
payments into the Enterprise and Innovations programme, run by the
Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade, citing non-transparent

Fuel prices hit all-time high

The price of petrol on the Czech market has reached a new all-time high
at 35 crowns per litre, according to data published by CCS, a company
monitoring fuel prices at petrol stations around the country. The price
of petrol rose by 47 hellers on average in the past week alone. The
price of Diesel oil upped by 42 hellers to an average 34.49 crowns per
litre. The ongoing conflict in Libya and unrest in other Arab countries
are cited as the main reason and analysts expect further price growth
in the days to come.


The coming days should be clear to partly cloudy with day temperatures
between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Tables turn on Civic Democrats in ongoing government crisis

The Czech government has found itself is in an ever deepening crisis,
and it is unclear whether it will be able to right its course or
whether the coalition will fall, paving the way for early elections.
Over the last 24 hours, coalition negations yielded few results, while
new evidence emerged suggesting that the crisis may have been the
result of sabotage by rebel MPs as well as members of the coalition
leading Civic Democrats.

Internationally renowned "voyeur" photographer Miroslav Tichy dies at
the age of 84

Miroslav Tichy, dubbed by some the enfant terrible of Czech
photography, died on Tuesday in Kyjov, the south Moravian village where
he lived and took his pictures. Many of them are candid shots of
Kyjov's women and girls, and because of their erotic nature, some have
labeled his work "voyeur" photography. Nonetheless, Tichy's biography,
combined with the unique, lackadaisical style of his pictures, has made
him an international art sensation.

The film score genius Zdenek Liska

Some of the best Czech films of the 1960s and 70s, such as Marketa
Lazarova, Shop on Main Street, and The Cremator, have one thing in
common, besides the country of origin: the author of the score, Zdenek
Liska. Only a few recordings of his music came out independently; most
recently, the British label Finders Keepers published his soundtrack of
The Little Mermaid. In this edition of Panorama, we look the life and
work of this prolific composer, and one of the most versatile artists
in the field.

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