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07-04-2014 17:53 | Jan Richter

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PM Sobotka: No need to revise government’s coalition agreement

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka sees no need to revise the government’s coalition agreement over recent arguments between the Social Democrat and ANO parties. Speaking during his visit to the Zlín region on Monday, Mr Sobotka said adhering to the agreement’s principles was the best way of settling the dispute; the prime minister and ANO leader and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš have clashed over plans to assist the mining firm NWR with keeping its Paskov mine operational until 2016 after Mr Babiš refused to back the originally proposed 1.1 billion crown in support for the mine, and made his own deal with the firm. Mr Babiš and Mr Sobotka are going to discuss their views at a meeting planned for Tuesday, the news agency ČTK reported.

Finance minister strikes rescue deal for north Moravian coal mine

Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has struck a deal with NWR, the owner of the north Moravian Paskov coal mine, to keep it operational until 2017. The Czech government will pay 600 million crowns for social programmes for the mine’s employees; the mining firm NWR has agreed to spend 500 million on the remediation of the mine, Mr Babiš told reports on Monday after a meeting with NWR board chairman, Gareth Perry. The finance minister said the deal was yet to be approved by the government and the European Commission. The government was planning to spend around 1.1 billion crowns to keep the unprofitable mine operational until 2016.

Czechs’ trust in EU at all-time low

Czechs’ trust in EU institutions is at an all-time low ahead of the upcoming 10th anniversary of the country’s accession to the European Union on May 1, the ctk news agency reports. Since trust in the EU peaked at 56 percent in the late 1990s Czechs’ satisfaction with their country’s EU membership has decreased by one third. The slide has been confirmed by several independent polling agencies. A CVVM poll which puts the trust rating at 34 percent, says that in addition to the economic crisis the slide is due to growing resentment against EU red tape and limitations enforced by EU legislation.

Czech exports to Ukraine dropped by 29 pct in February

Czech exports to Ukraine dropped by 28.8 percent in February while exports to Russia registered an 0.4 percent in that month, the Czech Statistical Office said on Monday. Analysts see the Crimea crisis as the main reason behind the drop, as well as a slowdown of the Russian economy. Overall, Czech exports grew by over 15 percent in February, driven by trade with Germany, Austria, China, France, and other countries. A spokesman for the Exporters’ Association said Czech companies were concerned about an escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, adding that many expect lower volumes of new orders from their Russian business partners.

Industrial growth accelerates to 6.7 percent in February

Czech industrial growth accelerated in February to 6.7 percent year on year, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office on Monday; compared to January, the industry grew by 1.7 percent. The value of new orders rose by nearly 20 percent, mainly thanks to foreign demand. The growth is attributed mainly to the production of motor vehicles, metal construction as well as rubber and plastic manufacturing. Analysts say the latest figures confirm the continuing recovery of the Czech economy, and expect substantial manufacturing growth in the coming months as well.

Construction sector grew by 6.1 pct in February

Czech industrial growth accelerated in February to 6.7 percent year on year, according to figures released by the Czech Statistics Office on Monday; compared to January, the industry grew by 1.7 percent. The value of new orders rose by nearly 20 percent, mainly thanks to foreign demand. The growth is attributed mainly to the production of motor vehicles, metal construction as well as rubber and plastic manufacturing. Analysts say the latest figures confirm the continuing recovery of the Czech economy, and expect substantial manufacturing growth in the coming months as well.

Civic Democrats to give back dubious one-million donation

The Civic Democrats will give back one million crowns they had received under suspicious circumstances, party chair Petr Fiala told a news conference in Prague on Monday. The party received the donation in 2013 from a 22-year-old woman on a maternity leave; Czech medial reported she owns no property, and speculated the real donor might have been her partner, an entrepreneur in medical products. The Civic Democrats said they would give the money back despite the fact no law was breached, and that they would tighten the rules for accepting donations in the future.

Dawn leader says party candidate for EP has “not a drop of Gypsy blood”

The leader of the Dawn party, Tomio Okamura, said one of his party’s candidates in the European elections, Klára Samková, had “not a drop of Gypsy blood” in her veins. Ms Samková has worked as attorney for a number of Romany clients and was married to a Romany man. Mr Okamura made the comment on Facebook when asked why the party, known for its anti-Romany rhetoric, had fielded Ms Samková for the election. The comments came under criticism from Romany advocates; for her part, Klára Samková came out in defence of Mr Okamura, saying he meant no offence.

Iraq to buy 12 Czech-made combat aircraft

Iraq will buy 12 Czech-built L-159 aircraft, the news website lidovky.cz reported on Monday. The contract, signed by Representatives of Iraq’s Ministry of Defence on Sunday, is worth around 200 million US dollars, the website said quoting sources familiar with the deal. The Czech military has been trying to sell off the redundant aircraft after it only found use for 28 out of 72 planes it ordered in 1997. Last year, a US training company signed a deal to buy 28 L-159 planes for around 500 million crowns.

Camera trap confirms wolves’ return to north Bohemia

A photograph of a wolf taken by a camera trap in north Bohemia last week confirms the species’ return to the region, the Nature Conservation Agency said. The photo, taken in a nature reserve near Doksy, some 60 km north of Prague, shows a single wolf which experts believe came from an area on the German-Polish border where around 100 wolves live in several packs; environmentalists say it’s not clear whether the animal was part of a pack but believe it is only a matter of time before wolf packs venture to the Czech territory as well. Wolves in Bohemia and Moravia were eradicated in the 19th century but have started to return in recent years, mainly from Slovakia and the German-Polish border region.

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