The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Zdenek Skromach, said at a conference on Monday marking 80 years of state social insurance, that a Czech working group of experts has prepared four possible versions for pension reform, and that if politicians can agree on a version by July, implementing pension reform would be possible within two years' time. About 9 percent of the Czech Republic's GDP now goes towards pensions, a ministry expert told the conference, but could reach the unsustainable level of 15 percent or more within a couple of generations if widespread reforms are not introduced in the pension and health insurance systems.
The Czech Republic's Nicole Vaidisova, age 15, won the Tashkent Open on Monday. The unseeded teenager claimed her second WTA title with a 5-7 6-3 6-2 win over French ninth seed Virgine Razzai. Miss Vaidisova, who was 103rd in WTA rankings ahead of this victory, had only won a single WTA title in her tennis career - in Vancouver, earlier this year.
State prosecutor Josef Blaha has dropped all charges against two men taken
into custody earlier this month for having allegedly attempted to bribe MP
Zdenek Koristka of the Freedom Union, a junior government coalition party,
to help bring down the government in a vote of confidence. The charges
against the two — Jan Vecerek, a lobbyist, and Marek Dalik, an adviser to
the leader of the main opposition Civic Democratic Party — were dropped
due to a lack of evidence. On Friday, the state prosecutor assigned to the
politically charged case, Martin Fras, was relieved of his
related responsibilities, for refusing to drop the charges as directed by
a superior. The Civic Democrat leader, Mirek Topolanek, who now refuses to
discuss the case publicly, had said that he merely sent Mr Dalik to find
out how Mr Koristka was intending to vote and that Mr Vecerek facilitated
Although the charges against the two men have been dropped, the police investigation into what the media is calling the 'Koristka affair' will continue. The Freedom Union MP, who agreed to a polygraph, or 'lie detector' test, claimed he was offered the equivalent of 300,000 euros and the post of Czech ambassador to Bulgaria to vote against the government coalition of which his party is a member.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel opened the eighth successive Forum 2000 international conference in Prague on Sunday, with a speech celebrating a vibrant civil society as a guarantor of diversity. Speakers at this year's Forum 2000 conference, which continues until Wednesday and focuses on the role of civil society and globalization, include John Shattuck, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, and Jeremy Hobbs, the executive director of Oxfam, an international development and anti-poverty group.
15-year-old Czech tennis player Nicole Vaidisova won her second WTA title on Sunday, downing French opponent Virginia Razzano in three sets at the Tashkent Open. Vaidisova came back from one set down, winning the next two sets 6:3, 6:2. Vaidisova's win earns her 140, 000 US dollars. Earlier in the year she won her first WTA title in Vancouver.
A proposal by Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek to delay an
increase in wages for police officers, fire-fighters and customs officials
has been criticised by the prime minister as well as the head of the
opposition communist party. Speaking on a Sunday discussion programme
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, together with Communist Party head
Miroslav Grebenicek, called the proposal a "populist" tactic
ahead of regional elections in November. Mr Gross pointed out that the
Christian Democrats had previously helped approve the government's law on
raising wages for police and other public officials in Parliament.
The bill will take effect next January 1st.
Tuesday's Champions League football match-up between Sparta Prague and England's Manchester United will be refereed by Italian ref Massimo De Santis, a police inspector from Rome who is well-known for his love of good food, theatre, and water skiing. Mr De Santis, 42, has called international games since 2000. It will not be the first time he has refereed a Czech team either: three years ago he oversaw a match-up between Sigma Olomouc and Celta Vigo in the UEFA Cup, in which the Czech side won 4:3.
Run-offs in Senate by-elections for the Prague 4 and Znojmo
constituencies have resulted in victories for Frantisek Prihoda, of the
right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, who earned 60 percent of the
ballot, and Milan Spacek, candidate for the Christian Democrats, who
got 53 percent. Defeated were Social Democrat Erazim Kohak, in Prague
4, and Civic Democrat Jaroslav Parik, in Znojmo.
The final ballot count indicates a very low overall voter turn-out: just 14.5 percent of those eligible showed up to cast their vote.
Austrian activists blocked a border crossing between Austria and the Czech Republic on Saturday afternoon in protest of the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power plant, which was given the go-ahead for full operation by the Czech State Authority for Nuclear Energy on Monday. Temelin has long been a bone of contention for demonstrators who believe authorities have not reduced safety problems at the plant. Saturday's demonstration, which began around noon, did not see any involvement by Czechs.