The Foreign Ministry has condemned the arrest of Belarussian opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich as well as three other opposition representatives sentenced to fifteen days in prison by the regime of strong-armed dictator Alexander Lukashenko. The men were jailed for participating in an unauthorised demonstration. The Czech ministry has demanded the immediate release of the representatives of the democratic opposition and other political prisoners serving their sentences across Belarus. The European Union also denounced Mr Milinkevich's arrest on Thursday.
The arrest of the head of the carmaker Hyundai in South Korea has raised
questions over the future of a major investment deal in the Czech
Earlier, before the arrestm, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek had said
that he would be prepared to go to South Korea to seal an agreement with
Hyundai on its first European
car plant in the Czech Republic but the escalating corruption scandal in
South Korea could have unforeseen consequences, with Hyundai's boss
remanded in custody.If the Czech prime minister or the minister for trade
and industry do fly to Seoul to finalise an agreement on the billion
dollar Czech car plant, they
will now presumably deal with Kim Tong-Chin. He will be taking over
Hyundai in the
interim. The Czech government has not received offiicial word from Hyundai
The Czech prime minister and others have been intent on quelling fears that the corruption scandal could cause the cancellation of the Czech project. The launch ceremony for the Czech plant at Nosovice, in the east of the country, was originally scheduled for May 17th. A top Hyundai executive has suggested that the investment in the Czech Republic could be postponed indefinitely. The Czech plant - expected to provide 3,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs - was due to start production in 2008.
Speaking at an economic forum in Teplice on Friday Prime Minister Jiri
Paroubek rejected the idea of the Social Democrats governing with the
Communist Party following elections in June. Mr Paroubek rejected the
idea on the basis of economic considerations, saying that - regardless
of moral issues - any government following the Communists election
programme would lead the country away from prosperity. At the same
time, Mr Paroubek suggested that a government led by the
right-of-centre Civic Democrats could be even more damaging. With
elections less than two months away Czech politicians are gearing up
for what some observers are saying could be a difficult election race.
The latest surveys continue to show the opposition Civic Democrats
ahead of Mr Paroubek's party. The Social Democrats' numbers have
improved slightly, while support for the Green Party - recently surging
in the polls - has declined somewhat, a new poll released by the Factum
Agency has suggested.
The poll suggests that if elections were held today the only possible majority coalitions in the 200-member lower house would be that of the Civic Democrats together with the Christian Democrats and the Green Party (with an estimated 106 seats) or a grand coalition put together by the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats (an estimated 121 seats).
Greece has announced that as of May 1st on Monday it will officially open its labour market to eight new EU countries which joined in 2004, among them the Czech Republic. The news was released on Friday by the Czech Foreign Ministry. A spokesman said the ministry considered the free movement of labour one of four basic European Union rights. He saidthe ministry welcomed Greece's decision.
A waste dump in the town of Litvinov may be chosen as a final destination for tons of refuse dumped illegally in the Czech Republic from Germany. The site has been proposed by the Celio company, which received 1.9 million crowns in funding - the equivalent of 84,000 US dollars - from the Finance Ministry to clean up half of the garbage. First clean-up operations began on Thursday. So far workers for the company have removed 120 tons of textiles and more than a thousand tons of burnt waste that the German province of Saxony-Anhalt will not cover. The German province, however, has pledged to remove some 750 tons from the illegal waste site in the north Bohemian town of Libceves by next week.
A spokesman for Czech military intelligence has said that no special measures will be taken in response to acquisition of new missiles by Iran. According to reports the Middle Eastern nation has acquired a purchase of BM-25 missiles with a capability of striking Eastern or Central Europe - including the Czech Republic. The missiles were purchased from North Korea and are said to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. They feature a significant increase in range from earlier rockets owned by Iran. The spokesman for Czech military intelligence has said that the latest developments in Iran did not mean that the Czech Republic was under any kind of threat. He also said that under current Czech-Iranian relations there was no reason for any conflict.
The British government will pay the equivalent of 316,000 US dollars in compensation to the heirs of four drawings from the collection of Czech Jewish lawyer Arthur Feldman that were stolen by the Nazis during World War II and are displayed in the British Museum in London, the AP news agency reported on Thursday. Feldman's grandson Uri Peled said he was pleased that the Old Master drawings would stay in the British Museum since his grandfather would certainly have liked them to be accessible to the public. The Gestapo stole the drawings from Feldman's house in Brno, in Moravia. The family members were tortured and killed by the Nazis.
Petr Hostek has been appointed head of the National Security Office. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who nominated him for the post, described him as a dedicated professional with an excellent reputation. Parliament's defence and security committee approved Hostek's nomination earlier this week. Hostek, 42, graduated from the military academy at Vyskov, was a professional soldier for several years and is now deputy director of the central Bohemian police force. He replaces Jan Mares who resigned as head of the National Security Office when it emerged that he had links with highly suspect individuals. The office itself has been harmed by a number of corruption scandals in recent months.
Waste disposal crews have started clearing out the remains of several dumps of illegal German waste from the town of Libceves. The Bavarian authorities recently acknowledged responsibility for some of the imported waste and have been conferring with the Czech side on how to deal with the matter. Some of the waste dumps were set on fire when the police started investigating and the locals have put pressure on the Czech authorities for them to be removed as soon as possible. Since the beginning of the year over 20 thousand tons of waste has been illegally imported to Czech border areas from neighbouring Germany.
Talks with Canadian authorities on lifting the visa requirement for Czech citizens are reportedly making headway. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek told reporters on Thursday that he had high hopes the matter would be resolved ahead of the summer holiday season. The Czech Republic has been pressing for years to get the unilateral visa requirement lifted and on a working visit to Canada this week the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda warned his counterpart that unless the matter was resolved soon the Czech Republic would take reciprocal measures. The Canadian Foreign Minister Peter Mackay is to visit the Czech Republic in June and the matter of visas is expected to top the agenda of the talks.
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