The Czech Republic will probably take its first turn at the helm of the rotating European Union presidency in June 2008, but will share that responsibility with France and Sweden, the Czech Foreign Minister, Cyril Svoboda, announced on Monday after meeting with his French counterpart. Individual member states have traditionally held the EU presidency for a half year, but following the historic enlargement of the union from 15 to 25 member states last May, the system was considered impractical.
Police investigators have begun looking into how the senatorial campaign of former health minister Marie Souckova was financed. The investigation comes on the heels of abuse of office and breach of public trust charges filed against the former health minister last week, in connection with an ongoing arbitration case against the state. Ms Souckova is alleged to have contracted a lawyer to represent the state in its case against the blood plasma trading company Diag Human without holding a tender and at "disadvantageous terms". Ms Souckova has not made public the backers of her failed senatorial bid, or said how the money left over from the campaign was spent; but has rejected accusations that she profited in the Diag Human case or diverted any of the related legal fees to her campaign.
The Minister of Culture, Pavel Dostál, is the most popular Czech politician, according to the latest opinion poll taken in January by the STEM agency. Mr Dostal, who is battling cancer, displaces Petra Buzková, the Minister of Education, from the top spot. The least popular politicians are Health Minister Milada Emmerová and Regional Development Minister Ji"í Paroubek, according to the poll. The least-known cabinet member is the deputy minister for economic affairs, Martin Jahn, who is unaffiliated to any political party.
A district state attorney in the town of Ostrava has extended by one month the deadline for a police investigation into an alleged attempt last year to bribe the government coalition MP Zdenek Koristka. The district attorney, Josef Blaha, said he wanted more time to look into certain aspects of the case, but said there was not enough evidence for re-opening criminal proceedings. The two former suspects in the case have close ties to Civic Democratic leader Mirek Topolanek. The two men were alleged by Mr Koristka to have offered him a large sum of money -- and a diplomatic posting to Bulgaria -- to vote against the government in a confidence vote held last year.
The Prague-Ruzyne international airport cleared a record-high 9.7 million passengers in 2004, a year-on-year growth of almost 30 percent. The Czech Airports Authority (CSL) said a new terminal would be opened next year to meet the added demand. This would increase Ruzyne's capacity to 10-15 million passengers annually, but in the meantime, more flights will have to be scheduled for off-peak hours.
A Czech man, who escaped from a Liberian prison on Friday, has been found. Forty-two year old Dalibor Kopp was found guilty of the illegal trade in arms in the Czech Republic, in April 2004. He fled the country and was arrested in Liberia last December. He was being detained in a Monrovian prison, before he was to be extradited back to the Czech Republic this week. On Friday, Mr Kopp was on the run after he apparently managed to bribe his way out of jail. Back home, Mr Kopp could face up to ten years in prison.
Of all European Union member states, Britain and Ireland have been most attractive for Czechs seeking employment abroad. Since the Czech Republic joined the EU in May, some 139,000 Czech pages on work and life abroad were visited on the EURES website, designed to support the free movement of labour across the Union. The large number of visited pages on Germany and Austria suggest these two countries are also attractive to Czechs. Some 29,000 pages on possibilities of finding a job in the Czech Republic have also been visited.
Prime Minister and acting chairman of the Social Democrats Stanislav Gross
will most likely be elected party leader at the next congress in March. The
Social Democrats, the main ruling coalition party, held conferences in the
country's thirteen districts, this weekend, to discuss their party's
future and assess who will most likely be in the leadership. Mr Gross won
the support of his colleagues in ten districts, while his competitor
Transport Minister Zdenek Skromach only won the support of the Social
Democrats in the Moravian town Zlin.
On Saturday, Mr Gross warned the Social Democrats had adopted an image of a divided and 'extinct' party that has nothing to offer its supporters. He called onto his colleagues to put aside their differences and unite to prove the party is active, has goals, and strives to achieve them.
A concert in Poland on Monday will honour four Czech musicians, who suffered at the Auschwitz death camp and died at the hands of the Nazis in the 1940s. Three days before the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Judaica Centre will host the concert that features works by Pavel Haas, Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann and Hans Krasa, the latter known for his children's opera - Brundibar - first performed by children at the Terezin concentration camp as they were being prepared for transportation to Auschwitz, Belsen and Treblinka.
The Social Democrats held conferences in six regions on Saturday ahead of
their party congress in March, at which a new leadership will be elected.
Prime Minister and acting party chairman Stanislav Gross opened the
conference in Prague, while his competitor in the run for party leadership
Transport Minister Zdenek Skromach attended the conferences in the Moravian
cities Zlin and Brno.
Mr Gross warned the Social Democrats, the main ruling coalition party, had adopted an image of a divided and 'extinct' party that has nothing to offer its supporters. He called onto his colleagues to put aside their differences and unite to prove the party is active, has goals, and strives to achieve them.