The Ceska Sporitelna bank has issued a report which foresees the country will not be able to adopt the Euro before 2013. It furthermore expects a rate of 25,50 crowns to the euro; the current rate stands at a little under 30 crowns. The Czech government has been working with a plan that sees the adoption of the single European currency three years earlier, by 2010 at the latest. The bank report also says Slovakia is the only member of the Visegrad Group, which also includes Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, whose planned date - 2009 - is realistic.
The Czech Foreign Affairs Ministry says Iran has not confirmed reports of an imposed trade embargo on the Czech Republic. According to the Iranian and South Korean press, the Czech Republic, South Korea, Argentina, and Britain are to be punished with embargos as they have been critical of the Iranian nuclear programme. Iranian charge d'affaires Said Hoseyn Rezvani has assured the Czech Trade and Industry Ministry that Czech firms exporting to Iran have nothing to worry about. In the first eight months of this year, exports to Iran have totalled some 86.4 million US dollars.
Police say they have arrested a man suspected to have murdered three people last week. The 28-year old man has been charged with murder, while his motive has yet to be determined. An elderly couple collecting wood in a forest near Brno was shot last Thursday. His other victim is believed to be an electrician from the town of Kladno, near Prague, who was shot three days later, as he was walking his dog.
The Social Democrats, the senior party in the ruling coalition, have rejected claims by a fugitive billionaire that the party received a large sum of money in return for special favours. Czech-born Radovan Krejcir says he loaned the Social Democrats 60 million crowns (some 2.5 million US dollars) back in 2002. Earlier this year, he fled to the Seychelles as he is wanted in the Czech Republic on a number of charges including tax evasion and conspiracy to murder. The Social Democrats, who take credit for Mr Krejcir's prosecution, say the allegations are a clear act of revenge ahead of the general elections.
The Czech Army has dispatched a plane carrying a vaccine against the common flu to Kosovo. As Macedonia awaits the results of tests on what could be its first case of bird flu, the Czech Army has decided to vaccinate its soldiers stationed in neighbouring Kosovo. Some 500 Czech soldiers currently serving in the KFOR mission in the south-Serbian province should be getting their shots in the next few days.
President Vaclav Klaus has refused to name David Rath health minister. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek proposed Mr Rath's appointment on Thursday morning. In a letter to the prime minister, president Klaus writes that Mr Rath still heads the professional chamber representing doctors and could face a conflict of interests. Mr Rath has not commented on the news but has already stated many times in the past that he would be willing to resign from his current post if he were elected Milada Emmerova's replacement. She was sacked as health minister last week.
The opposition Civic Democrats are still the most popular party, but the governing Social Democrats are gaining ground, suggests a poll taken this month by the STEM agency. The Civic Democrats enjoy 32 percent voter support, while support for the Social Democrats has risen to 24.5, an increase of three percent on September. The Communists remain in third: 15 percent of those polled said they would vote for the party.
The police have said fugitive businessman Radovan Krejcir is the leader of a six-member crime gang, after arresting five of its members on Tuesday on charges of large-scale money counterfeiting. Speaking from the Seychelles, where he has citizenship, Mr Krejcir said the arrests were part of a campaign against him. In June the businessman escaped police custody in the Czech Republic, where he is also wanted for alleged fraud and planning the murder of a customs officer.
Canada is to decide in two years' time whether to lift visa requirements for Czechs, a spokesperson for Prague's Canadian Embassy told the Czech News Agency. The announcement followed a Czech threat to use the EU solidarity pact to ask all EU countries to introduce visas for Canadian citizens. Prague is also seeking an end to visa requirements for Czechs travelling to the United States.
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