The Czech prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, says if a bill allowing a
referendum on the European Union constitution does not receive the
necessary two-thirds majority in parliament the Civic Democrats will bear
responsibility for denying Czechs the right to vote on the issue. The
prime minister made the comments in an interview for the Czech BBC. Mr
Paroubek says the constitution is still viable, and a referendum should
take place at the same time as general elections next June. For their part
the Civic Democrats say the document is dead.
The prime minister is holding talks on the issue with the Communist Party; they say they are in favour of a referendum, but insist that money earmarked for a campaign calling for a yes vote should also be shared with opposition groups.
A man was killed on Monday when he was knocked down by an ambulance on a zebra crossing in Prague's Jizni Mesto, Czech Television has reported. The man died immediately after being hit by the ambulance, which did not have its siren or flashing lights turned on. Police are investigating the accident.
The Czech Republic is opening six temporary consular offices to serve
the country's citizens during the summer months. They are in Split and
Riejka in Croatia, Barcelona, Venice, Marseille and Burgas, Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, Czech Radio has begun its annual summer broadcasting in Croatia, which attracts hundreds of thousands of Czech tourists every year. The daily 15-minute Czech-language broadcasts on Radio Split include news, weather and holiday tips.
Cheap shops and market stalls run by Chinese and Vietnamese traders are the main or second "most important place for buying clothes" for Czech consumers, according to a study by Incoma Research quoted in Monday's edition of Hospodarske noviny. The traders have an annual turnover of 10 billion crowns (400 million US dollars) on textiles alone, the report says.
The interior minister, Frantisek Bublan, says there is evidence that fugitive businessman Radovan Krejcir has evaded a police search and fled the Czech Republic. Mr Krejcir managed to escape from custody soon after he was arrested; he gave the police the slip after asking to use the bathroom during a search of his home near Prague at the weekend. He faces charges of tax evasion and fraud amounting to almost 3 billion Czech crowns (around 120 million US dollars); he is also suspected of planning a murder. Mr Krejcir, who is 36, is reported to be one of the richest people in the Czech Republic.
Two to three hundred Czech doctors are leaving for western Europe every month, according to figures from the Czech Doctors Association published in Monday's Mlada fronta Dnes. The Association bases its figures on applications it receives for a certificate needed to work abroad. Britain is one of the most popular destinations for Czech doctors, with some of them commuting home to the Czech Republic at weekends, the paper says.
The chief of the opposition Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek has said his party will vote against a referendum bill that would allow the Czech public to vote on the EU constitution. The Civic Democrats say they see no reason in holding a referendum on the ratification of the European constitution. The other opposition party, the Communists, say the government must divide the money for the campaign leading up to the referendum among all the different opinions on the EU.
The Prime Minister also announced that he would present a new concept of an information campaign about the European constitution in two weeks' time. He said the campaign leading up to the referendum should not only focus on the constitution, but also on Czech membership in the EU in general. The main points of discussion on the EU should be the Schengen treaty, institution of the euro, using EU structural funds, the Czech presidency of the EU and the contribution of the EU to the Czech education system. According to Mr Paroubek, the EU could contribute to the campaign.
The Czech President Vaclav Klaus said that after France and the Netherlands rejected the European constitution, holding a referendum in the Czech Republic is unnecessary. He added that any referendum would only by a public opinion poll and not a meaningful referendum under the Czech constitution. Mr Klaus also said he was not surprised by the failure of EU negotiations on the EU budget for the 2007 to 2013 period, but he did say he believed a compromise would be reached.
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