Representatives of the main political parties have agreed to vote for a reserve pension fund ahead of next year's elections. The fund is aimed at covering a future shortfall in pension costs caused by the aging population and low birth rate. There was also agreement to preserve the current continual system of pension funding and on the need to gradually increase the age of retirement. However, major differences remain over how much of the pension should be guaranteed by the state.
The minister of education, Petra Buzkova, says she is leaving politics and will not stand for the Social Democrats in elections next summer. She made the announcement in an interview in Tuesday's Pravo. Ms Buzkova, who is 39, has been one of the country's most popular politicians in recent years. She was appointed education minister, her first cabinet post, in July 2002.
An exercise aimed at dealing with the possible consequences of a terrorist bombing on the Prague Metro system is to be held next month, Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. Around 120 people will play distressed and injured passengers in the exercise, which will take place in the early hours of Friday September 23rd.
The former head of Prague's Jewish Community Tomas Jelinek is being investigated for alleged breach of trust and abuse of personal data. A police spokesperson told the CTK news agency he was suspected of making an unauthorised payment of half a million crowns and providing members' personal data to two companies. For his part, Mr Jelinek says he is innocent and that the cases are linked to a power struggle within the Jewish Community which saw him ousted last year.
The Czech Republic is aiming to adopt the euro currency in 2010, the Finance Ministry has announced. Previously it said the target date was between 2009 and 2010. The country looks set to meet conditions for joining the eurozone in 2008, when the public finance deficit should fall below 3 percent of GDP.
The Czech government will try to persuade EU states to axe their limits on Czechs entering their labour markets as of next April, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Monday. The Prime Minister said the government would particularly target France, Italy and the Netherlands. Only three EU member states - Britain, Ireland and Sweden -opened their labour markets fully to the Czech Republic when it joined the block in May 2004. The Prime Minister said the limitations could create the undesirable impression that Czechs are second class EU members.
The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has said Europe must find a new balance between freedom and security in order to effectively fight terrorism. Speaking at a meeting of Czech ambassadors in Prague, Minister Svoboda said Europe must come to terms with the fact that it will be threatened by terrorism for an indefinite period of time and must take effective measures to fight against this threat. He said it was impossible to rely on rules that date back to a time when the world was threatened by different kinds of conflict. Following the attacks in London, the Czech Republic stepped up security at its airports, on the metro, railway lines, nuclear power facilities and around other high-risk buildings and institutions.
The chairman of the right-of-centre opposition Civic Democratic Party Mirek Topolanek has announced he will probably run for a parliament seat in the Prague constituency in the general elections scheduled for mid-next year. The Prime Minister and probable election leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek would like the Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Martin Jahn to lead the party's Prague ticket.
The Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat in its Sunday edition appreciates the Czech Government's apology to Sudeten German antifascists describing it as an important example for Europe. The daily writes that the Czech government has made a small but right step in this matter, adding that such examples are needed in Europe as a similar dispute still burdens Polish-German relations. The Finnish paper also says the primary task of European political leaders in not to demand acknowledgment or compensation in international disputes but help accurate information to come to light.