Friday, March 15, 2013

News 3.15.2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Friday, March 15th, 2013

By: Jan Richter

* Bohuslav Sobotka has been re-elected the chairman of the opposition
Social Democrats at a party conference in Ostrava.

* The Czech Foreign Ministry has no news of two Czech tourists who have
been abducted in Pakistan.

* An MP from the opposition Public Affairs has been acquitted of
corruption charges.

* The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has unveiled a plan to
combat rising levels of unemployment.

* The troubled truck maker Tatra has been sold at an auction for 176
million crowns.

Bohuslav Sobotka re-elected Social Democrat leader

The incumbent Social Democrat leader, Bohuslav Sobotka was re-elected
party chairman at a congress in Ostrava on Friday. Mr Sobotka, who
faced no challengers for the post, was backed by more than 500 of 600
delegates at the event. After the vote, Bohuslav Sobotka said the party
must present a realistic programme for the next general election,
rather than populist promises. The opposition is generally expected to
win the next parliamentary election, scheduled for 2014. The re-elected
chairman also said the first legislation to be passed by his government
would be an act on property declarations.

The Social Democrat congress also re-elected Michal Hasek the party's
first deputy chair; 13 people, including Social Democrat presidential
candidate Jiri Dienstbier, are meanwhile running for five posts of
deputy chairs.

President Zeman receives ovations at Social Democrat congress

President Milos Zeman addressed the Social Democrat party conference in
Ostrava on Friday. In his 20-minute speech, the president said that if
the Social Democrats win the next general election, they should form a
one-party government. Mr Zeman also said that as president, he was
non-partisan but as a citizen, he wished the party victory at the
polls. In his much anticipated address, President Zeman, himself a
former Social Democrat leader, also rejected the idea he would use his
influence to split the party over a conflict that made him leave the
Social Democrats in 2007. President Zeman received standing ovations
from the congress during his address.

Foreign Ministry: no news of Czech tourists kidnapped in Pakistan

The Czech Foreign Ministry has no news of two Czech tourists who had
been kidnapped in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, a spokeswoman
for the ministry said. The ministry has set up a crisis team to deal
with the situation but has received no concrete information from
Pakistani authorities of the whereabouts of the two women, or who could
have kidnapped them. Friends and family of the abducted Czech
travellers have meanwhile set up an internet website in their support.

Opposition MP acquitted of corruption

A court in Hodonin on Friday acquitted MP Otto Chaloupka, of the
opposition Public Affairs party, of corruption charges. Mr Chaloupka
faced accusations that he made his assistant pay 60,000 crowns as
contribution to the party's campaign ahead of the 2010 general
election. The court also acquitted the assistant who was accused of
bribery; the judge argued there was no proof that any corruption
occurred. The prosecutor said he would decide whether he would appeal
the verdict at a higher court.

Vlastimil Picek to be new defense minister

Army general Vlastimil Picek is set to become the country's new defense
minister, according to government sources cited by the CTK news agency.
The former army chief of staff, who currently serves as deputy defence
minister, is a widely respected expert in the field though his
appointment to the post is vehemently opposed by the smallest party in
government LIDEM which wanted a civilian to lead the Czech Defence
Ministry. Prime Minister Petr Necas has strongly advocated the
general's appointment and has reportedly won over the TOP 09 party for
the idea. The coalition had come under fire both from the military and
from opposition benches for procrastinating in filling the crucial
government post which has been vacant for some three months.

Ministry unveils plan to fight rising unemployment

The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has unveiled a new plan
to combat rising levels of unemployment. Minister Ludmila Mullerova who
presented the plan at a news conference in Prague on Friday, said the
ministry would spend around seven billion crowns on the programme which
includes subsidies for companies which give jobs to unemployed people
under 30, support for part-time jobs for mothers and long-term
job-seekers, as well as subsidies for the jobless who will become
self-employed. The ministry also plans to enhance assistance and
support for municipalities, NGOs as well as job seekers.

Tatra truck maker sold in auction

The troubled Czech truck maker Tatra was sold at an auction on Friday,
three weeks after the firm was declared bankrupt. The company was
acquired for 176 million crowns, or around 9 million US dollars, by a
newly-established firm, Truck Development, which is financed by the
investment group J&T. Tatra's assets have been established at 1.76
billion crowns while its commitments reached 1.5 billion crowns. Tatra
CEO, Ronald Adams, welcomed the news and said the change in ownership
would solve the firm's financial difficulties.

Detained MP David Rath remains in custody

MP David Rath, who has been in police custody since last May on
corruption charges, remains in detention after the prosecutors filed an
appeal against a Prague court ruling to release him on a
two-million-crown bail. The appeal will be heard by an appellate court
in the coming weeks. David Rath, a former influential Social Democrat
and governor of Central Bohemia, was arrested in May 2012 with seven
million crowns of what the police believe was a bribe. He is facing 11
years in jail for bribery and abuse of power.

German airport strike affects CSA flights

The Czech carrier CSA on Friday cancelled one of its Prague- Dusseldorf
flights due to a strike by security personnel at several German
airports. The strike could also affect other flights between Prague,
Dusseldorf and Cologne, operated by CSA and the German airline
Lufthansa, a spokeswoman for Prague's Vaclav Havel Airport said.

Bad weather shuts down border crossings to Slovakia for Hungary,
Slovenia-bound trucks

The Czech police on Friday closed down border crossings between the
Czech Republic and Slovakia for heavy trucks heading to Hungary and
Slovenia due to poor weather conditions in those countries. Heavy snow
and strong winds are complicating traffic on Slovenian and Hungarian
roads. A police spokeswoman said it was not clear when the border
crossings would re-open.

Viktoria Plzen knocked out of Europa League in last 16 stage

Viktoria Plzen have been knocked out of the Europa League, the
continent's second-tier club competition, in the last 16 stage. The
Czech club went into Thursday night's game against Fenerbahce trailing
1:0 from the home leg in West Bohemia last week. After the Turkish side
took the lead in the first half in Istanbul, Plzen managed to get one
back through a Vladimir Darida strike on 61 minutes to give themselves
some hope of advancing. However, they were unable to find the net again
and the second leg ended 1:1, giving Fenerbahce a 2:1 win on aggregate.


The weekend will be mostly clear with some overcast spots and snow in
places. Daytime highs should range between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Business News 15.3.2013

In Business News this week: Korean Airlines are to acquire a 44 percent
stake in CSA; Ceska Sporitelna planning lay-offs despite high profits;
despite efforts to find new markets, the Czech economy remains heavily
dependent on export to EU states and two Prague restaurants hold onto
their Michelin stars.

20th Febiofest gets underway featuring 200 films including Slovak-Czech
production My Dog Killer

The Febiofest film festival, in its 20th year, began on Thursday
evening; this year the festival promises 200 film screenings and the
attendance of internationally-recognised stars like Geraldine Chaplin
(perhaps best known for her work with Carlos Saura) and Giancarlo
Giannini many fans will recognise from films like Casino Royale.

Three months after sacking of Karolina Peake, General Vlastimil Picek
to be named Czech defence minister

Almost three months after the swift sacking of Karolina Peake, the
Czech Republic is finally getting a new minister of defence in the form
of career soldier General Vlastimil Picek. General Picek is currently
deputy minister and has a good deal of experience, having also served
as chief of the general staff of the Czech Army for five years.

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