The Czech Republic already "consumed" most of the advantages that membership in the European Union brings before it joined the EU, President Vaclav Klaus said on Monday. Speaking at a seminar at Prague's Carolinum, Mr Klaus said the country's expenses have been outweighing the benefits of EU membership ever since EU accession two years ago. The union has moved from a phase of liberalisation to one of centralisation; as a result, Czech citizens are now struggling with excessive paper work, and abundance in legislation, the president said.
As of January 1 2007, there should be no caged or netted beds in use in
Czech institutional care, a new social services law stipulates. According
to Martin Zarsky from the labour and social affairs ministry, the use of
the beds is no longer among the measures authorised to control patients.
Though the law was signed by the president in March, the news has come as
a surprise to many institutions where netted and caged beds are still in
use. Some of them have expressed fear that they will have neither the
budget nor the extra staff necessary to implement the changes.
International NGOs have repeatedly criticised Czech social and mental institutions for their use of caged and netted beds. They say the measure is inhumane and would not be necessary if institutions had more staff and adopted more modern forms of treatment.
Every tenth Czech has an alcohol problem, a leading expert on alcoholism warned on Monday. Dr Petr Popov from the General Faculty Hospital in Prague says he has also been recording a rise in the number of alcoholic women and children. For every one man, there are two women undergoing treatment today. With an annual consumption of ten litres per person, Czechs are believed to be among the highest consumers of spirits in Europe.
The Czech newspaper, Mlada Fronta Dnes, has printed two promissory
notes that allegedly prove that the Social Democratic Party owes
millions of crowns to a controversial businessman. Radovan Krejcir
claims he loaned 60 million crowns (some 2.5 million US dollars) to the
party four years ago in order to help finance its election campaign. He
says the two promissory notes were signed by the former Social Democrat
leader Stanislav Gross in 2002. The Social Democrats have rejected the
allegations and Mr Gross says the signatures are forged.
The police have also expressed doubt at the authenticity of the promissory notes. During a police raid in March, a fax was found holding clear instructions on how to forge a promissory note. They included a detailed explanation of the graphic design, the colour, and personal information on Mr Gross. Radovan Krejcir currently lives on the Seychelles. He fled the Czech Republic last year as he is wanted on a number of charges including tax evasion and conspiracy to murder.
Czech cyclist Jan Hruska has been suspended from racing for two weeks. Mr Hruska was one of 40 riders due to take part in the Tour of Catalonia, who underwent blood testing on Monday. Following the health checks, he was the only one not permitted to race, Reuters news agency reported. The 3 Molinas Resort rider is a former winner of two stages of the Tour of Italy. His most recent success was last week, when he took the overall victory in the Clasica Alcobendas stage race in Spain. The Tour of Catalonia finishes on Sunday.
The Czech government has decided to free 234 million crowns (a little over 10 million US dollars) from the state budget to purchase over 93 hectares of land in an industrial zone close to the north-western town of Most. The owner of the land has sued the Czech state for granting the construction of an aluminium works in the zone. Speaking to journalists on Monday, Prime Minister Paroubek said the state hopes to buy the land in an out-of-court settlement.
A tragic accident between the Bohemian towns of Ceska Budejovice and Tabor has left two people dead and eight injured. The accident occurred on Monday afternoon, when a lorry crashed into eight vehicles that stood at a traffic light on a stretch of the E55 motorway where a bridge was under reconstruction. The cause of the accident has yet to be determined, though police suspect the 25 year old lorry driver was simply inattentive and failed to respect the speed limit.
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has said that the Czech Republic wants to join the Schengen Zone in October 2007. Yet, according to Svoboda this time-line will depend much on the preparations of neighbouring countries because the Czech Republic does not face the problem of securing a new Schengen border, as does Poland in relation to Belarus and the Slovak Republic in relation to Ukraine. The Czech Republic will have to adapt the Prague-Ruzyne international airport, which will require implementing a new computer system—the SIS II information system—which allows for the quick exchange of information between border crossings. Czech passports will also need to contain biometric data. Membership in the Schengen zone allows for the free movement of people; currently thirteen EU countries belong to the Schengen agreement, which excludes the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Former Prime Minister and one-time leader of the Social Democrats, Milos
Zeman, has warned against the possibility of creating a grand coalition
following the June elections. Speaking at the Social Democratic congress
over the weekend, Zeman said that the Social Democrats should avoid a
so-called opposition agreement with the right-of-centre Civic Democrats,
and should instead opt for a minority Social Democratic government. Former
Prime Minister Zeman speaks with a degree of experience, because following
the 1998 elections he formed a government based on an opposition agreement
made with the Civic Democratic Party.
Milos Zeman has also declared his support for the current Social Democratic Party leader, Jiri Paroubek, stating that he has the life experience and maturity that have sometimes been lacking in the past.
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