Friday, March 2, 2012

News 3.2.2012

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

News Friday, March 2nd, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* The Czech Republic has joined Great Britain in refusing to sign the
EU's fiscal treaty.

* The Slovak prime minister has harshly criticized Prague's decision to
stay out of the fiscal compact.

* The Prague branch of Social Democrats is embroiled in a corruption
scandal.

* Trade unions have criticized the finance minister's austerity plans
for the coming years saying they would stifle economic growth.

* The fate of reforms in the education sector remains unclear as a week
of student protest actions draws to a close.

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Czech Republic joins Great Britain in rejecting fiscal treaty
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The Czech Republic on Friday joined Great Britain in refusing to sign
the EU's fiscal treaty aimed at enforcing budget discipline within the
block. The Czech prime minister who met with his British counterpart
David Cameron ahead of the EU summit, made it clear that in its present
form the treaty was disadvantageous for the Czech Republic in enforcing
conditions and fines without allowing the country, which in not a
eurozone member, to actively participate in all euro zone summits. He
moreover stressed that he considered it far more important to deepen
the common market and increase the competitiveness of the 27-member
block. The prime minister's decision to stay out of the treaty has
divided the Czech political scene with the coalition TOP 09 and the
opposition Social Democrats strongly opposing the move. Foreign
Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who is the head of TOP 09, made it clear
at the summit he was deeply dissatisfied with the Czech stand.


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Slovakia slams Czech Republic for staying out of fiscal pact
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Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova has voiced harsh criticism of the
Czech Republic's decision to stay out of the fiscal compact. Mrs.
Radicova said she had urged the Czech delegation to reconsider its
decision ahead of the signing noting that in view of how the sister
states had vied to get EU membership it seemed dishonourable to back
out at the first sign of trouble. The Slovak prime minister said that
the Czech stance was purely political and lacked any rational
background.


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Prague branch of Social Democrats embroiled in corruption scandal
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The anti-corruption police have charged17 members of the Prague branch
of the opposition Social Democrats with corruption. According to Czech
Television the accused bribed over a dozen people to become party
members and to vote according to the leadership's wishes. This activity
is reported to have taken place in 2010 and was to have influenced the
list of party candidates for the 2010 general elections. The Social
Democrat leadership has called on the accused to leave the party.


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Trade unions criticize government's austerity plans
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Trade unions have criticized the finance minister's austerity plans for
the coming years saying they would stifle economic growth. According to
an analysis commissioned by the country's umbrella trade union
organization the proposed changes would bring a drop in investments,
soaring prices and growing unemployment. Twenty-four thousand employees
from the public sector would have to be laid off -of that 17,000
teachers and 3,500 police officers. Trade unions are proposing a more
gradual lowering of the deficit in public spending, suggesting that the
deficit be stabilized at around 120 billion crowns. The finance
minister has proposed a much faster pace of scaling down the deficit
which this year should not exceed 105 billion and is to be lowered by
42 billion crowns next year.


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Education minister rejects idea of mass lay-offs
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Education Minister Josef Dobes on Friday rejected the idea of a mass
lay-off of teachers as inconceivable and said he had received no such
information from the Finance Ministry. According to figures released
this week the austerity measures would leave the ministry 15 billion
crowns poorer in the next two years. Finance minister Miroslav Kalousek
responded to the statement by saying that the broken-down austerity
package has been dispatched to every ministry with details of how much
money each institution would have to save.


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Week of student protests draws to a close
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The fate of reforms in the education sector remains unclear as a week
of student protest actions draws to a close. Thousands of students
around the country took part in demonstrations and happenings to
express their opposition to a proposed government reform which includes
the implementation of university fees and which they fear would
threaten the autonomy of universities and give more influence to
political and economic elites. At a press briefing on Friday Education
Minister Josef Dobes expressed regret that student leaders had been
unwilling to meet with him to debate the controversial plans, saying
that the street was not the place to gain information or resolve
problems. However student leaders have been calling for the minister's
dismissal, saying he is deaf to their arguments only wanted to hold the
meeting for its media value.


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Rampula moves to keep his deputy in office
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Prague's chief prosecutor Vlastimil Rampula who returned to office last
week on the grounds of a court ruling which invalidated his dismissal
six months ago, has countered a move by his predecessor to sack his
deputy Libor Grygarek. Mr. Rampula said he had found the reasons cited
for Mr. Grygarek's dismissal inadequate. One of the reasons cited was
Mr. Grygarek's ties to a Prague lobbyist. The move is seen as part of
Mr. Rampula's efforts to regain ground and consolidate his position at
the High State Attorney's Office in Prague. Meanwhile his superior
Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman and Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil
have said they will continue to seek ways to secure Mr. Rampula's
dismissal. The latter is suspected of sweeping cases of large-scale
corruption under the carpet.


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Seat Toledo to be produced in Mlada Boleslav
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The new Seat Toledo will be produced in Skoda's Mlada Boleslav plant,
in central Bohemia, company spokesman Josef Balaz told the ctk news
agency on Friday. The new generation Seat Toledo is to be a sister
model of the planned new compact limousine Skoda Rapid. The Seat Toledo
is to appear at a car show in Geneva next week. Skoda Rapid is to be
presented later this year. With the exception of Citigo, Skoda produces
all its models, namely Fabia, Octavia, Superb, Roomster and Yeti, in
the Czech Republic.


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Bus collision leaves six people injured
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Six people are reported injured in a bus crash in Ceske Budejovice late
Thursday. Two buses collided in the city centre for as yet unknown
reasons. One of the bus drivers remains in serious condition. The
others suffered moderate injuries and some remain under observation
with a concussion. The preliminary damage assessment is at 1.5 million
crowns.


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Flood alerts called off as water levels stabilize
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After several days of minor flooding resulting from the thaw, the
water-levels of the country's rivers are reported to have stabilized.
Flood alerts have been called off in all high risk areas and
meteorologists say the predicted drop in temperatures should stop the
thaw in the mountain regions leading to a drop in water levels. In the
course of the past fortnight fire fighters in south Moravia and north
Bohemia have had to use explosives to break up huge blocks of ice
jamming rivers in order to restore the flow of water and prevent local
floods.


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Weather
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The coming days should be partly cloudy to overcast with day
temperatures between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius.

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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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Czech Republic and Britain alone withhold signatures from EU treaty
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Twenty-five of 27 EU member states signed the European Union's new
fiscal compact in Brussels on Friday - but the Czechs were not among
them. Prime Minister Petr Necas together with British Prime Minister
David Cameron have opted not to support the treaty, which is aimed at
enforcing budget discipline in the union and prevent meltdowns within
the eurozone as was seen with Greece.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/czech-republic-and-britain-alone-withhold-signatures-from-eu-treaty


Amanita Design, independent Czech games developer
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Amanita Design is a Brno-based, award-winning game development studio
whose creations have become a huge hit on the internet. Their games
combine elements of the technical world with nature in a way not seen
before. Their signature game, Samorost, takes you to a universe
composed of rusty parts of old, derelict machines and mossy, gnarled
stumps of rotting wood. In this edition of the Arts, we meet the
studio's founder Jakub Dvorsky.

http://radio.cz/en/section/arts/amanita-design-independent-czech-games-developer-1


Business News 2.3.2012
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In this week's Business News: the most absurd bank fee is announced; a
study finds that a third of young Czechs are working flexible hours;
fears that eurozone unemployment could hit Czech exports; the Finance
Ministry is seeking to lure investment funds into the country and Czech
Railway cutbacks mean fewer train conductors.

http://radio.cz/en/section/economic/business-news-2012-03-02


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