20,000 gather to hear Obama at Castle
Speaking to a crowd of some 20,000 people at the gates of Prague Castle, US President Barack Obama yesterday presented his plan for a world free of nuclear weapons. Obama said that as long as a nuclear threat exists, the US will press on with plans to develop a missile defence shield.
most Czech press

Statistical office head likely to form temporary cabinet
The coalition government and the opposition ČSSD agreed yesterday to promote Jan Fischer, head of the Czech Statistical Office, as the prime minister in a caretaker government. PM Mirek Topolánek said it was a preliminary agreement and had yet to be approved by the respective party bodies. Early elections would take place on 9 and 10 October. No current minister would retain his or her post in the new cabinet.
most Czech press

Havel, Klaus praise US president’s speech
Former President Václav Havel praised Barack Obama’s focus on nuclear disarmament in his Prague address yesterday and said he warned the popular US president in a meeting afterwards that people could turn on him if their high expectations are not met. Czech President Václav Klaus said he appreciated that Obama’s speech touched on Czech and Prague traditions and history.
most Czech press

Extremist demonstration in Přerov ends in violence
Dozens of people were injured and 31 arrested in Přerov Saturday as violence broke out at a demonstration by nationalist and neo-Nazi groups protesting what they termed “black racism” among Roma. Demonstrators returning to the town centre following their march clashed with police officers, nine of whom were hurt. No charges have been filed yet as the investigation is continuing.
LN 6, Právo 7

Anti-radar rallies greet Obama
A few hours before President Václav Klaus and PM Mirek Topolánek greeted Barack Obama at Prague Airport Saturday afternoon, about 300 people rallied in the city centre against the planned US radar station on Czech soil, unfurling a large banner on the Legion Bridge reading, “Yes we can say no to US military base.” On Sunday hundreds of people defied a city ban to march against the radar from Wenceslas Square to the Prague Congress Centre. Both protests were peaceful.
HN 9, Právo 5, ČTK

Renegade Schwippel quits ODS
MP Jan Schwippel resigned last week from the Civic Democrats (ODS). Schwippel voted with the opposition to topple PM Mirek Topolánek’s cabinet. He plans to run in the June elections for the European Parliament representing the new party.
Právo 3 Sat

LN: Ex-PM Zeman mulling new party
Former Prime Minister Miloš Zeman will decide within three weeks about forming a new political party, an unnamed member of the civic association Přátelé Miloše Zemana told Lidové noviny. Zeman did not rule out such a move.
LN 4 Sat

Journalists send protest letter to Obama
A group of Czech journalists sent an open letter to US President Barack Obama and EU representatives attending the US-EU summit in Prague criticising the recently enacted law banning journalists from publishing the results of police wire taps and naming crime victims without their consent.
MfD A6 Sat

Jacques to lead EU affairs committee
MPs approved Kateřina Jacques (Greens) as head of the lower house Committee on European Affairs on Friday. The post had been vacant for more than a year.

Development slows as property prices plummet
Only three development projects were sold nationwide in the first quarter of 2009, and their total value of CZK 1.6 billion represented a 70% year-on-year drop. CB Richard Ellis analyst Pavel Scháňka attributed the decline to sellers waiting for prices to recover from their 30% decline during the financial crisis. Martijn Kanters of real estate consultancy DTZ expects overall investment of EUR 500 million for the full year, half the 2008 amount.
HN 18

Kalousek: G20 a historic success
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek termed the G20 summit in London a historic success. Kalousek said he welcomed the end of US push for countries to up stimulus spending, but he dismissed Nicolas Sarkozy’s statements that the meeting marked the end of the “Anglo-Saxon capitalism”, calling them “strong and untimely words”.
MfD A8 Sat, Právo 2 Sat, ČTK

ČEZ joins run on sunk Moravia Energo
Creditors of bankrupt electricity trader Moravia Energo (ME) have so far filed claims worth CZK 4.5 billion. ČEZ seeks CZK 1.5 billion, the amount the power giant expected to make as a result of contracts with ME.
MfD A8 Sat, HN 19

HN: Ad firms expect revenue plunge
Hospodářské noviny reports that advertising agencies expect revenues to decline by at least a third this year as companies cut ad spending due to the financial crisis. Proximity Prague has cut salaries by 10% to avoid layoffs; McCann Erickson froze wages and introduced one month of unpaid leave for staff. Martin Charvát of the Konektor agency says his company is now focusing on individual projects rather than long-term campaigns, which is cheaper for clients.
HN 17

Central Group buys former Telefónica HQ
Real estate developer Central Group has purchased the former home of telecommunications company Telefónica O2 in Prague’s Žižkov for almost EUR 13.7 million. A residential project with 700 luxury flats is planned for the site.
HN 17, 18

MPs advance crisis plan on write-offs, social insurance
The lower house on Friday passed on first reading a bill that would introduce faster write-offs and discounts on social insurance as part of the government crisis plan.
LN 7 Sat

Crowded centres show likely jobless rate rise
The unemployment rate, at 7.4% percent in February, is expected to continue rising, as state-run job centres reported a significant increase in unemployment registrations at the beginning of April.

Janota: Budget deficit could hit CZK 130bn
Deputy Finance Minister Eduard Janota said yesterday the state budget deficit would reach CZK 120 billion-130 billion this year, about 4% of GDP. He noted that a deficit below 3% of GDP is one of the criteria for adopting the euro.

Czech mobile phone spending tops 87bn
Mobile phone operators in the Czech Republic saw their revenues grow last year to CZK 87.5 billion, up 3% from 2007. The number of SIM cards per 100 Czechs grew by 5 percentage points to 131, according to an annual report by Telefónica O2.

ČSA ranked top airline in region
Czech Airlines defended its title as central Europe’s best airline in the annual World Airline Awards survey conducted by British consultancy Skytrax.

MND ups budget for ČR oil and gas survey
Karel Komárek’s Moravské naftové doly (MND) will invest CZK 600 million this year in oil and gas survey in the Czech Republic, about 5% more than in 2008.

Prague gas firm will cut rates slightly
Natural gas distributor Pražská plynárenská says it will cut rates from July by at least 2%.