Tuesday, January 31, 2012

News 1.31.2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* A fierce row has broken out in the Czech government over the prime
minister's refusal to sign up to the EU fiscal compact.

* The Czech Finance Ministry has revised its economic growth forecast
for 2012 down to 0.2 percent and is not ruling out a recession.

* Prague city hall will erect an emergency shelter for the city's

* The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX has appointed
Jaroslava Novotna as its new Chief Prosecutor.

* Over 4 500 people are expected to join Thursday's protest march
against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement signed in Tokio last

Fierce row over Czech "no" to fiscal compact

A fierce row has broken out in the Czech government over the prime
minister's refusal to sign up to the EU fiscal compact. Sharp criticism
of the decision from the country's foreign minister, who said it would
damage Czech interests, elicited a fierce counter-attack from Prime
Minister Petr Necas. At a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday evening
Mr. Necas slammed the foreign minister for what he called a rash and
ill-considered remark. He moreover criticized the work of the Foreign
Ministry and advised the foreign minister to devote more time to
fulfilling his duties properly.

In his own defense Mr. Necas said that in Brussles he had acted
precisely within the mandate he had received from the centre-right

Foreign minister says PM harmed country's interests

Mr. Schwarzenberg who on Tuesday criticized the prime minister for
harming the Czech Republic's interests, speaking ahead of a four-day
official visit to Israel, said he wanted to address the situation upon
his return. The Czech foreign minister has repeatedly stressed the
importance of staying in the European mainstream and recently even
threatened to leave the cabinet should the country decide to go its own
way. Mr. Schwarzenberg hinted that the real reason behind the country's
refusal to sign up to the treaty was discord within the prime
minister's Civic Democratic Party, whose conservative faction opposed
the move.

Czechs say no to fiscal compact

The Czech Republic and Britain were the only two EU members who said
they would not be signing the EU fiscal compact which aims to
coordinate budget policy and enforce fiscal discipline across the
block. The treaty, finalized at Mondays EU summit, spells out the
enhanced role of the European Commission in scrutinizing national
budgets and will empower the European Court of Justice to monitor
compliance and impose fines on rule-breakers. The Czech prime minister
said he could not sign up to the treaty for constitutional reasons. He
also noted that the treaty held no advantages for Czechs and said the
country's eurosceptic president Vaclav Klaus had already made it clear
he would not ratify such an agreement. The Czech prime minister has not
ruled out that the country might join the treaty sometime in the future.

Czech president welcomes Czech "no" to fiscal union

President Vaclav Klaus has welcomed the prime minister's rejection of
the fiscal compact as a wise and responsible decision. On his web-page
Mr. Klaus said that the authors of the treaty were using the debt
crisis to push through a deeper degree of integration which would rob
EU member states of more important powers. He said he hoped Prague
would maintain a firm stand on the matter and not join the treaty at a
later date.

Finance Ministry revises 2012 growth figure down

The Czech Finance Ministry has revised its economic growth forecast for
2012 down to 0.2 percent and is not ruling out a recession. The revised
forecast, down from a predicted 1 percent growth, is based on growing
problems in the euro-zone which are expected to impact the
export-dependent Czech economy. The government is expected to draft an
amendment to the 2012 budget which was tailored to 2.5 percent growth.

City hall to erect emergency shelter for homeless

Prague City Hall has said it will erect an emergency shelter for the
city's homeless in order to provide some protection in the freezing
cold weather. Ten homeless people have already died of exposure in the
Czech capital this winter and the worst bout of arctic weather is still
to come. Meteorologists say that night time lows at the close of the
week could drop to minus 35 degrees Celsius and according to some
forecasts the freezing cold weather could last until mid-February.
There are over three and a half thousand homeless people in the Czech
capital and its few facilities for the homeless are bursting at the

Czech appointed new chief EULEX prosecutor

The European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX has appointed
Jaroslava Novotna as its new Chief Prosecutor. Novotna has worked as a
prosecutor for more than thirty years both at home and abroad, most
recently working in the Supreme Prosecutor's Office in the Czech
Republic. She has particular expertise in dealing with cases related to
drugs trafficking and organised crime. EULEX was established in 2008
with the aim of helping to secure the rule of law in Kosovo. It
includes a team of prosecutors from EU countries who cooperate with
their local opposite numbers in the prosecution of organised crime, war
crimes, terrorism, ethnic violence and corruption. There are currently
two other Czech prosecutors working in Kosovo.

Prague mayor elected head of Prague Civic Democrats

The Prague branch of the Civic Democratic Party elected Prague Mayor
Bohuslav Svoboda its chairman on Monday. A total of 68 out of 95
delegates supported Mr. Svoboda, who had only one contender, former
City Hall councillor Jiri Janecek. The newly elected chairman announced
that the Civic Democrats should strive to renew their dominant position
in Prague. Mr. Svoboda replaces Boris Stastny, who submitted his
resignation on the same day. Mr. Svoboda, a gynaecologist and
obstetrician, joined the Civic Democrats in September 2011. The head of
the Civic Democratic Party, Prime Minister Petr Necas welcomed the
outcome of the vote on Tuesday and expressed the hope that Mr. Svoboda
would help the Prague Civic Democrats regain public trust.

Pirate party organizes protest march against ACTA

Over 4 500 people are expected to join Thursday's protest march against
the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement signed in Tokio last week. The
protest is organized by the Czech Pirate Party which says it will seek
ways to boycott the treaty which the Czech Republic signed up to. The
agreement aims to establish international standards on intellectual
property rights enforcements. Within hours of its signing last Thursday
hackers attacked the websites of the Czech government and that of OSA,
a Czech copyrights holders association. The march is to set out from
Klarov at 2pm on Thursday and lead to Prague Castle and back by the
same route.

Train accident narrowly averted

Two trains were in danger of colliding on Tuesday morning after running
opposite each other on the same track. The passenger train was
reportedly travelling on its regular Pardubice -Rosice route east of
Prague when the express train was guided onto the same track some
distance away. The trains were stopped at a safe distance from each
other. A team of railway inspectors is investigation the case.

Stands to disappear from Wenceslas Square

Prague councillors on Tuesday voted to clear Prague's Wenceslas Square
of stands to pave the ground for a face lift that is expected to start
in the near future. The plan envisages installing 6 unified stands
which would sell only newspapers, flowers and possibly fresh pastries.
Whether or not any of the traditional items -such as hot sausages -
will be allowed back remains open to debate. A previous attempt to ban
them from the square failed amidst loud protests from both locals and


The coming days should bring clear to partly cloudy skies and day
temperatures dropping to minus 10 degrees Celsius. Night time lows can
drop to minus 20 degrees.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Czech government refuses to join EU's planned fiscal compact

The Czech government has refused to join the European Union's planned
fiscal compact which paves the way for a closer coordination of fiscal
policies within the bloc. At an EU summit in Brussels on Tuesday, Czech
Prime Minister Petr Necas cited "ratification issues" as the main
reason why the country will stay out of the pact, as the only EU member
state besides the UK. The Czech refusal has already caused a stir on
the domestic scene as Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the
move would harm the Czech Republic's interests. Jan Czech Radio's
former correspondent in Brussels, Ondrej Houska summed up the reasons
Prime Minister Necas gave to back his decision.


Internet brings major advantages for the blind and visually impaired

Internet banking, online shopping, google searches - the internet has
made our life much more convenient. And despite the fact that it is a
highly visual medium, blind people, too, are increasingly taking
advantage of the internet. But how do they perceive it and what are
some of the difficulties of mastering the World Wide Web for those
without eyesight?


Jaroslav Foglar and his "Rapid Arrows"

Writer and youth movement activist Jaroslav Foglar left a deep trace in
Czech popular culture. Besides more than 25 novels for children,
Jaroslav Foglar is also the father of Rychle sipy, or "Rapid Arrows", a
legendary comics that has earned a following with generations of Czech
readers. Persecuted by the Nazis and the communists, the writer also
single-handedly founded his own youth organization which, in its
heyday, had tens of thousands of members across the country.


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