Czech inflation was 2.7 percent in September on a 12-month comparison after 3.1 percent in August, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Monday. In September, consumer prices fell by 0.7 percent from the August figure. Prices rose in August by 0.2 percent compared with July. The lower cost of package holidays at home and abroad, the first drop in the cost of petrol after rises during the previous five months, and lower seasonal prices of fruit and vegetables contributed to September's lower inflation rate, the office explained.
President Vaclav Klaus will launch a new round of talks on a new government on Thursday after he accepts the resignation of the minority cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek on Wednesday. A spokesman for the president's office said Mr Klaus will meet representatives of all five parties in Parliament. Talks will begin anew after Mirek Topolanek's cabinet failed a vote of confidence in Parliament last week. President Klaus said earlier he would not appoint a new prime minister until after the local and Senate elections later this month.
Former Czech President Vaclav Havel has put forward the idea of a "global moral minimum" that could be adopted as a basis for the rules and norms of the coexistence of nations and supranational communities in the future world. Speaking at the Forum 2000 conference of world personalities in Prague on Monday, Mr Havel said he had already made several unsuccessful attempts at the creation of such a minimum and its adoption as a new official document, for instance on UN soil. This year, the annual conference focuses on the Dilemmas of Global Co-existence. Among the speakers are Belarusian opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich, Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, and Nobel Peace Prize laureates the Dalai Lama and US author Elie Wiesel.
Czech unemployment fell to 7.8 percent in September from 7.9 percent one month earlier, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs announced on Monday. A total 427,331 people were registered as jobless and fit to work at the end of September, the ministry said. In September 2005, unemployment stood at 8.8 percent, the ministry added. Economists had expected a slight fall in the September jobless figure due to ongoing seasonal employment and school leavers and graduates starting work. Wide regional differences in unemployment rates persist with Prague's eastern region having the lowest national figure at 2.3 percent and the northern town of Most the highest at 20.3 percent.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has joined the global condemnation of the underground nuclear test carried out by North Korea. In a statement, the ministry said that it was an irresponsible and regrettable act that would lead to further nuclear arms proliferation and threaten international security and stability in the world. The Foreign Ministry has called on North Korea to return to diplomatic negotiations within the six-party talks.
Czech psychiatrists have been reporting an increase in the prevalence of mental disorders in recent years. The most marked rise has been reported in patients with depression. According to the head of the Czech Psychiatric Society, Jiri Raboch, their number has doubled over the last decade. On the eve of World Mental Health day, Dr Raboch said some 1,500 Czechs commit suicide every year, with a significant proportion of them suffering from depression or having some type of addiction.
A district court in Prague has acquitted former Health Minister Marie Souckova of charges in the Diag Human case. Ms Souckova was charged with breach of trust and abuse of power for signing a contract between the ministry and lawyer Zdenek Novacek under which the ministry was to pay him up to 170 million crowns for his services if it won a legal case against the blood plasma trading company Diag Human. Ms Souckova faced between three and ten years in prison and a fine of 10 million crowns.
An obelisk in memory of the joint past of the Czechs, Poles, and Germans has been unveiled in the villages of Kopacov and Oldrichov. The villages now lie on either side of the Czech-Polish border but used to be united. After the Second World War its entire German population was expelled. The obelisk is also a symbol of the three countries' cooperation today.
The Prague Mayor and deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Pavel Bem, says current Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek would not hold onto the post if his party were given a second chance to form a new government. Mr Topolanek's cabinet is expected to resign on Wednesday after it failed to win a vote of confidence in the lower house of Parliament last week. In a televised debate Mr Bem, who is strongly in favour of early elections, said the next government proposed by the Civic Democrats would be a caretaker government. He added that there are at least three independent experts who his party sees fit to hold the post of prime minister.
Czech-born tennis star Martina Navratilova will be opening an exhibition named Art Grand Slam in Prague next week. The project, initiated by Slovak artist Juraj Kralik, combines tennis and art and will be on show at Prague's Congress Centre. Mr Kralik paints pictures onto which Martina Navratilova then creates patterns by hitting them with paint-covered tennis balls.
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