News Czech foreign debt decreases slightly in Q1
Czech foreign debt decreased by over 64 billion to 2.15 trillion crowns in the first quarter of the year compared to the previous quarter, according to figures released by the Czech National Bank on Friday. Year on year, however, the debt rose by some 151 billion and now amounts to 54.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The quarterly decrease is due to Czech banks’ repaying of some of their foreign debt in the final quarter of last year, the central bank said. Foreign debt of the private sector also decreased but the public sector’s exposure, which represents some 30 percent of the debt, rose due to the government’s bonds sold to foreign investors.
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Israel does not fear that Sweden’s decision to recognize the Palestinian state will trigger a snowball effect in Europe, the Israeli ambassador to Prague, Gary Koren told journalists. Ambassador Koren said that Sweden’s step would not help, but rather hinder the Middle East peace process. According to the ambassador Palestinians can gain independence only through peace negotiations and recognition of Palestine at the U.N. or by individual countries undermines the negotiating process. The Czech Republic has not recognized the Palestinian state, and according to Foreign Minister Zaorálek, does not plan to do so.
Adriana Krnáčová of the ANO party is to become the new mayor of Prague, under a coalition agreement sealed on Friday. ANO won the local elections in Prague and has reached a deal with the Social Democrats and the three-way grouping of the Green Party, the Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents who ran on a joint ticket. The winning ANO will hold the city’s finances, security, health and housing. The Social Democrats should get transport, social policy and European funds while the three-way grouping should take the environment, culture and infrastructure.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Friday met for talks with the visiting Serbian Prime Minister Alexander Vucic. The two officials discussed bilateral ties and economic cooperation, with the Czech side expressing interest in partaking in the planned reconstruction of Serbia’s infrastructure, putting down rail tracks and building highways. The two heads of government discussed the possibility of holding a Czech-Serbian business forum to boost cooperation and trade. Prime Minister Sobotka is expected to visit Serbia in mid-December.
A third of Czech travel agencies failed to pass an inspection by the Czech Trade Inspection Office which handed out fines amounting to 300,000 crowns, the ctk news agency reports. According to the office inspectors found fault with 25 out of 74 agencies audited. The failings most often had to do with not providing objective information about the conditions in which holiday makers would be living and a laggardness in dealing with complaints.
The Czech government will continue to bring up the question of human rights in talks with Chinese officials, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek told journalists in the lower house on Friday in response to questions pertaining to the country’s foreign policy on this matter in the wake of President Miloš Zeman’s visit to China. During talks with Chinese top officials in Beijing the Czech president said Prague would not question China’s stand on Tibet or Taiwan and stressed that he had not come to the country to mentor its officials about human rights. The Czech Foreign Minister said that while the Czech Republic had economic interests in China it would not close the door on human rights issues.
Al Qaeda radicals are striving to spread their ideology to Muslims in the
Czech Republic, the Czech Military Intelligence Service says in its annual
report. According to the report, released on Friday, this is happening
largely through internet sites and social networks. Such activities are
dangerous in that they increase the chance of lone wolf terrorist attacks
that are hard to prevent, the Military Intelligence says.
The Military Intelligence also monitored the activities of Chinese companies in view of the threat of technological espionage in the defense sector. The civilian counter intelligence service BIS likewise this week warned of what it called an “exceptionally high” number of Russian and Chinese spies operating on Czech territory.
The State Attorney’s Office in Prague has filed charges of fraud against a man who embezzled close to nine million crowns from the National Museum of Agriculture. Vladimír Prokop served as the museum’s chief economist for a number of years after applying under a false name and lying about his qualifications. Ironically, this happened at a time when he had escaped from jail where he was serving a sentence for the same crime. If convicted he could get up to 10 years in prison.
Football clubs Slovan Bratislava and Sparta Prague have been handed fines by European footballs governing body, UEFA. Last week the clubs faced each other for the first time since the break-up of Czechoslovakia but the Europa League match was marred mid-way by crowd disturbances. Sparta will have to pay 80 thousand euros as a result while Slovan was handed a lower fine of 50 thousand. UEFA also ruled that Sparta will have to play one match behind closed doors, a decision that has been deferred for a two-year probation period. Sparta won last week’s match 3:0.
The Czech Army will be called in next week to begin guarding the site of a munitions depot in Moravia which suffered a deadly explosion that left two employees missing and presumed dead. The ministers of the Interior and Defence visited the surrounding area on Thursday. It has emerged gradually that the site, leased by four companies, represented a greater threat than previously registered; Defence Minister Martin Stropnický maintained that the officials has reacted as quickly as possible as the bigger picture emerged. The authorities are have compiled information about the site which contains numerous buildings with stored munitions untouched by the blast; but, the minister suggested that not all regulations had been followed at the depot, and dozens of other depots around the country will be checked. The army is expected to receive a mandate on Monday to guard the site. The clean-up and removal of debris as well as munitions from surviving buildings could take months.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdcyh advanced to the quarter-final on Thursday at the BNP Paribas Open to stay in the running in a spot for November’s ATP World Tour Finals. The fifth seed defeated Feliciano Lopez 7-5, 6-3 in Paris to improve to a 53-19 match record this season.