Thursday, May 26, 2011

News 5.26.2011

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

News Thursday, May 26th, 2011

By: Jan Richter

* Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has welcomed the arrest of
Bosnia war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic.

* The Czech Republic's public finance deficit will this year drop to
4.2 percent of the GDP, according to an estimate by the Finance

* Czech publishers have failed to convince the country's finance
minister to keep a lower VAT rate on books.

* "Poor, passive pensioners" form the largest single segment of the
Czech population, according to a new marketing survey.

* The Czech football association has called for legislation that would
make entering the field by fans a criminal act.

Foreign Minister Schwarzenberg welcomes Ratko Mladic's arrest

Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has welcomed the news of the
arrest of Ratko Mladic, a Bosnian Serb suspected of war crimes who was
detained on Thursday by the Serbian police after 16 years in hiding. Mr
Schwarzenberg congratulated the Serbian police and security forces, and
said that the Serbian government proved it acted in full accordance
with the rule of law. The Czech foreign minister added he hoped the
fugitive war crimes suspect's arrest will "accelerate Serbia's
approximation" to the European Union.

Finance Ministry: public finance deficit to drop to 4.2 percent of GDP

The Czech Republic's public finance deficit will this year drop to 4.2
percent of the country's gross domestic product, according to an
estimate by the Finance Ministry released on Thursday. Last year, the
deficit was 4.7 percent, down from 5.9 percent in 2009. The Finance
Ministry aims to reach balanced public finances by the year 2016.
Earlier this month, an estimate by the Czech central bank put the 2011
public finance deficit at 4 percent of the Czech Republic's GDP.

Coalition unable to reach agreement on key details of health care

Coalition leaders were unable to reach agreement on details of the
health care reform on Wednesday. After a six-hour session in the lower
house, several key points still remained unresolved. Health Minister
Leos Heger said the coalition was able to agree on 12 of his 17
proposed changes. At the centre of the debate is the question which
procedures will be covered by insurance and which will have to be paid
for by patients themselves. While the Civic Democrats and the TOP 09
parties insist that what is standard care be defined by the Health
Ministry, junior coalition member Public Affairs would like it to be
determined by new legislation co-authored by health care experts.

Czech publishers fail to convince finance minister to keep lower VAT on

Members of the Czech association of book sellers and publishers met
with Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek on Thursday to discuss the
government's plan to raise VAT rates. However, they failed to convince
him to keep the VAT rate on books and other publications at 10 percent.
The government agreed on Wednesday to raise the lower VAT rate to 14
percent next year, and to introduce a single VAT rate of 17.5 percent
by 2013. The head of the publishers' association, Vladimir Pistorius,
said this will destroy the business. The publishers are planning to
stage a rally in Prague in June to protest against the government's

Prague courts adjourns hearing claims against lottery firm Sazka

A court in Prague on Thursday adjourned hearing claims lodged against
the embattled lottery firm Sazka. More than 2,000 claims against Sazka
have been registered, amounting to over 41 billion crowns, or over 2.3
billion US dollars. However, Sazka bankruptcy trustee only recognized
claims worth around 15 billion. After the court heard claims higher
than 300,000 crowns, the session was adjourned until Friday. The Czech
Finance Ministry suspended Sazka's lottery licence earlier this month
after the firm failed to pay the winnings. Sazka got into financial
problems after it spent billions of crowns on constructing a
multi-purpose arena in the capital.

Around 30,000 children living in poverty-stricken areas: government

Around 30,000 children, mostly Romanies, are living in socially
excluded localities across the Czech Republic, the head of the
government agency for social inclusion, Martin Simacek, said on
Thursday. These children are more likely to be segregated in "special
schools" or end up in institutional care. The practice of placing
Romany children in schools originally intended for children with
disabilities has been criticized by the EU and other bodies. Experts
also blame the Czech Education ministry for failing to provide support
for children from these poverty-stricken areas.

"Poor, passive pensioners" largest single population segment: survey

Poor retired people with passive lifestyle form the largest single
segment of the Czech population, according to new survey by the
country's association of marketing agencies released on Thursday. There
are around one million of them in the country, or 13 percent of the
population. Some 750,000 retired people enjoy active lifestyles and
sufficient financial means, while another 700,000 Czechs fall into the
category of people "waiting for retirement". The survey divided the
Czech population into ten categories according to their quality of
life. It also found that some 10 percent of Czechs have sufficient
financial resources; they tend to be more educated and live in bigger
cities. Another 9 percent of the population fell into the category of
"people without perspective" who are mostly unemployed and rely on
state welfare.

Culture minister approves demolition of historic buildings in Prague

Czech Culture Minister Jiri Besser on Thursday approved the demolition
of a historic building in Prague Wenceslas Square. The building,
located on the corner of Opletalova Steet, was built in 1880 and
rebuilt several times in the 20th century. Although not a registered
monument itself, it forms part of Prague's historic centre, a
UNESCO-listed world heritage site. The building will be replaced with a
new structure with a parking lot, shops and offices that should open in
2016. The minister's decision met with criticism from the Club for
Ancient Prague as well as other experts and politicians. Deputy chair
of the lower house and member of Prague 1 council, Katerina Klasnova of
the Public Affairs party warned the demolition would diminish the
protection of Prague's monuments.

Czechs win protection for Karlovy Vary spa wafers

The Czech Republic has won EU protection for Karlovy Vary spa wafers,
the Czech news agency CTK reported on Thursday. The European Commission
reportedly granted the product the Protected Geographical Indication
status which means only wafers made in the Czech spa town of Karlovy
Vary will be able to use that name. The decision comes despite
opposition from Germany and Austria where locally made wafers bear the
same name.

Wafers in Karlovy Vary, also known by its German name Carlsbad, were
first produced in mid-19th century. At that time, the town was almost
exclusively populated by ethnic Germans whose descendants were forced
to leave after WWII. However, Karlovy Vary continued producing its spa
wafers even after the town was repopulated by Czechs.

Czech hotel rooms at season's start cheaper than last year

Hotel rooms in the Czech Republic at the beginning of this year's
tourist season were cheaper than last year, according to a survey by
the KMPG consultancy firm released on Thursday. The average April rate
for a hotel room was 1144 crowns, or around 66 US dollars, some 110
crowns lower than last year. Hotel room occupancy grew by around 7
percent to 60.6 percent. In Prague, the average price for a hotel room
in the first quarter of this year reached 973 crowns.

Czech FA seeks law against fans entering field

The Czech football association called on Thursday for new legislation
that would make entering the field by fans a criminal act. The move
comes after several dozen football fans charged the field after the
Czech FA cup final game in Jihlava on Wednesday, the latest in a series
of similar incidents. The association will work with experts to draft a
bill inspired by similar legislation approved in the UK in the early
1990s. The head of the Czech football association, Ivan Hasek said he
believed the proposal will find sufficient support among the country's

Tennis: Petra Kvitova advances to French Open's third round

Czech tennis player Petra Kvitova advanced on Thursday to the third
round at the French Open after beating China's Jie Zheng 6:4, 6:1. In
the first set, ninth seed Kvitova converted two out of five breakpoints
while in the second, the Czech won six consecutive games to wrap up the
game in one hour and 16 minutes. In the third round of the French Open,
Petra Kvitova will face the winner of Vania King from the US versus
UK's Elena Baltacha.


Meteorologists have warned against storms that are expected to hit the
Czech Republic on Thursday and Friday. Daytime highs will range between
18 and 23 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Czech Nuclear Safety Institute: EU-approved stress tests should not
present a problem

After weeks of debate the European Union on Wednesday agreed on the
criteria for conducting "stress tests" on the bloc's 143 nuclear power
plants. The tests which aim to avert an accident like that at Japan's
Fukushima plant, will check nuclear plants' preparedness in dealing
with natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding, as well as for
man-made failures such as airplane crashes and explosions. We called
Petr Brandejs, deputy head of the Czech Institute for Nuclear Safety to
find out how the Czech Republic's two nuclear power plants -Temelin and
Dukovany would face up to the challenge.

Second chance for a car that could have been a classic

Playing the game "what would have happened" with the Prague Spring and
the Soviet invasion can yield a million answers, one of which might be
that Czechoslovaks would have been zooming around in sleek, little
Czech-made sports cars. The UVMV 1100 GT unlike anything that had been
driven before in the country when it was designed in 1968, but
production was cancelled by the Communist Party after the invasion.
Now, 41 years later, the UVMV might finally be coming to life.

Back to the Stone Age for a day

In 1997, just eight years after the Velvet Revolution, when Czechs were
making up for lost time and looking into the future, one man -
archeologist Radomir Tichy - was busy looking back. Like the rest of
his countrymen he was now fully able to realize his dreams, but those
had little to do with mobile phones, DVDs and exotic holidays. Mr.
Tichy and his colleagues at Hradec Kralove University aimed to recreate
history by building an open air museum from the early Stone Age to the
late Metal Age.

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