Press: Obama to speak on disarmament at Palach Square
The White House has reportedly said US President Barack Obama will deliver a speech on nuclear disarmament at Prague’s Jan Palach Square on the morning of 5 April before attending that afternoon’s EU-US summit. Obama will probably dine with his wife, Michelle, at a Czech restaurant after his arrival in Prague at 5pm on 4 April and has no official activities planned that evening.
most Czech press

ČR backs Sikorski for top NATO post
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said Saturday that the Czech Republic backs Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski’s bid to become NATO’s new chief at next week’s summit of the alliance. Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen is considered the leading candidate for the post.
most Czech press

ČSSD, ODS see snap elections in autumn
Opposition leader Jiří Paroubek and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek agreed over the weekend to hold early parliamentary elections in September or October. ČSSD said it would tolerate Topolánek’s government remaining in place until June’s European Parliament elections if Interior Minister Ivan Langer resigns. The opposition party is calling for a caretaker government after the EP balloting, but Topolánek favours a political interim cabinet.
most Czech press

Three in crowd killed at Valašská auto rally
The Valašská road race in north Moravia was terminated on Saturday after one of the cars skidded off the road and killed three spectators, including two children.
most Czech press

Scharzenberg: Czech govt crisis worries EU
Meeting with his EU peers at the Czech chateau Hluboká, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said he could sense concern about the Czech government crisis and its possible impact on the Lisbon Treaty and EU enlargement. Schwarzenberg said a Czech rejection of Lisbon could result in the country’s “total isolation” within the EU. During the meeting ministers said the economic downturn should not slow EU integration for western Balkan countries.
E15 4, ČTK

Topolánek, Klaus exchange barbs in press
In an interview published Saturday in Mladá fronta Dnes, Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek reiterated his claim that President Václav Klaus helped engineered the government’s downfall, citing multiple meetings Klaus allegedly had with ČSSD leader Jiří Paroubek and Prague Mayor Pavel Bém. Klaus told the daily that Topolánek’s statements are lies.
MfD A1-A3 Sat

ODS video: Govt fall a ‘betrayal’
The Civic Democrats (ODS) on Saturday posted a video on YouTube comparing last week’s no-confidence vote against the Topolánek government with the Munich Agreement of 1938, the communist putsch of 1948 and the Soviet invasion of 1968.
Právo 2, MfD A3

State to pay for rejecting ‘blob’
The Culture Ministry will pay the late architecture studio Future Systems EUR 160,000 as compensation for failing to realise Jan Kaplický’s “blob” design for a new National Library building within two years of its winning a design contest. The National Library must provide the ministry with the documents necessary for the payout within two weeks.
LN 6 Sat

Peres visiting Prague
Israeli President Shimon Peres arrives in Prague today for a two-day visit. He will meet counterpart Václav Klaus, PM Mirek Topolánek and ex-president Václav Havel.

ČR sees first mad cow case since late ’07
A cow in the north Bohemian village of Roprachtice was last week diagnosed with BSE, the first case in the country since December 2007 and the 29th since 2001.
Právo 7 Sat, ČTK

Price of flats seen sliding to 2006 level
Apartment prices will continue to drop until they reach 2006 levels, consultancy Deloitte and mortgage broker Hyposervis concluded after analysing real estate data for the past five months. The companies forecasts price drops of 5% to 15% for new flats, 30% for units in prefabricated buildings and 20% for older flats, depending on locality. Deloitte’s Filip Endal says the market became saturated in 2007, causing demand to sink.
MfD B1, B3

Topolánek: Euro plan by end of ’09
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said Sunday on political talk show Václav Moravec’s Questions that a strategy for euro adoption should be announced by year-end. Topolánek said at the beginning of 2009 that the cabinet will set the adoption date on 1 November.
LN 13

Orco to renegotiate EUR 400 million bonds
Developer Orco Property Group will start talks with bondholders to renegotiate about EUR 400 million in bond repayments. The company is also in talks with its creditor banks. General Director Jean-Francois Ott said on Friday that the company is working with creditors to delay EUR 100 million in loan repayments due this year.
MfD A8 Sat, HN 17

Moravia Energo sent to liquidation
The Ostrava Regional Court on Friday rejected a restructuring plan for Moravia Energo and sent the energy firm into liquidation. The company, part of billionaire Tomáš Chrenek’s business empire, has unpaid debts worth CZK 1.9 billion.
HN 18, ČTK

FinMin to boost motorway budget
The Finance Ministry will add CZK 8.4 billion to the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure budget to finance motorways construction commissioned and launched last year. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said money to maintain the projects can be found but the move will increase the deficit.
HN 15, 16, 17

E15: Time Warner will run CME in four years
E15 reports that Time Warner, which earlier this month acquired a 31% stake in Nova TV owner CME, will gain control of the European firm in 2013.
E15 1, 15

TV maker to leave Žatec, sack 800
Hitachi Home Electronics will close down production of plasma TV sets at the Triangle industrial zone near Žatec. All 800 staff will become redundant by the end of April. The firm will have to return a CZK 246 million investment incentive to the state.
most Czech press

CzechInvest: Keep heavy industry perks
Government agency CzechInvest says incentives for investment in manufacturing should remain in place to help mitigate the economic downturn. An amendment currently before Parliament would restrict incentives to investment in special technologies and services.

Building workers will get 2.3% raise
Base wages in the construction industry will grow by 2.3% in April under a deal reached between unions and the Association of Building Entrepreneurs. Unions originally sought to boost pay by as much as 11%, while builders wanted to freeze wages until mid-2009.

ČP profit shrinks despite higher sales
Top Czech insurer Česká pojišťovna last year netted CZK 5.9 billion, CZK 0.8bn below its 2007 profit. The firm boosted billings by CZK 0.6bn to CZK 40.4bn.

MPs vote to speed up mergers
The lower house passed legislation Friday to simplify approval of corporate mergers. The measure reduces from 30 days to 20 the period for the antimonopoly office to rule on less complicated transactions.