Zdenek Hruby, chairman of the supervisory board of the power utility CEZ, has been appointed to the post of government secretary for the country's EU presidency in 2009. Mr. Hruby has considerable experience in managing international projects. He was chief coordinator of the IMF and World Bank meeting in Prague in the year 2000 and national coordinator of EU funds. The Czech Republic should hold the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2009.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has said he is not opposed to Turkey's entry into the EU if the country can meet the required criteria. Speaking on a working visit to Denmark, Mr. Klaus said that he would rather see the EU enlarged than more closely integrated. The president did not wish to comment on the US election results, merely saying that he did not expect any significant changes in bilateral ties. On Thursday the Czech president had lunch with the Queen of Denmark, Margarethe II and met with some of the country's top officials.
The Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize is selling all of its 96 Delvita supermarkets in the Czech Republic and leaving the country. The supermarket chain said Thursday its net profit had more than halved in the third quarter mainly due to its Czech business, which had prompted the decision to sell. Company chief executive Pierre-Olivier Beckers said the divestment would allow Delhaize to focus on higher opportunity markets."
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek, has indicated that he is prepared to run for the post of speaker of the lower house. He told journalists on Thursday that this could lead to a breakthrough and he called for constructive talks to break the deadlock. Civic Democrat deputy chairman Petr Necas said this appeared to be a step in the right direction but he added that the Social Democrat leader was not in a position to call the shots.
The police has uncovered the whereabouts of two Czech criminals who are hiding in New Zealand, according to Thursday's edition of Mlada Fronta Dnes. The two criminals escaped from the country after being sentenced for rape, blackmail and a hold-up. They are both wanted on an international arrest warrant and the Czech authorities have asked the New Zealand police to arrest and extradite them.
Czech political leaders are once again searching for a solution to the country's drawn-out political crisis. The Civic Democratic Party, whose leader Mirek Topolanek was re-appointed prime minister on Wednesday, has refused to hold talks exclusively with the Social Democrats. The party wants to keep its options open and will negotiate simultaneously with all parties in the lower house.
President Vaclav Klaus has appointed Jaroslav Bures as deputy chairman of the Supreme Court. Mr Bures is now a deputy to Iva Brozova whom President Klaus unsuccessfully tried to dismiss earlier this year. Ms Brozova was injured in a car accident in May and is to be out of office until the end of the year. She said that Mr Bures's appointment was in breach of the Constitution as the Supreme Court should have only one deputy chairperson. During Ms Brozova's absence, the court has been headed by its deputy chairman Pavel Kucera.
The number of cases of tick-borne encephalitis has increased by 70 percent compared to last year, according to a report by the State Health Authority. 890 people got infected this year - the highest number in the last decade. Experts attribute this year's increase to a hot summer with many tropical days and also to a larger number of infected insects. Only ten percent of Czechs have been vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis, a disease which can cause permanent neurological damage and - in some cases - death.
The Social Democrats say they expect Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to submit in writing his proposed solutions to the current political situation. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said at a news conference on Wednesday that a potential agreement between the Civic Democrats and his Social Democrats should be "public, transparent and crystal clear". On Tuesday the party expressed willingness to discuss support for a minority Civic Democrat cabinet with a limited two year mandate. On Wednesday, party chairman Jiri Paroubek admitted the possibility of a grand coalition of the Civic and Social Democrats.
The Czech Foreign Ministry says that the official approval of the
operation of the Temelin nuclear plant by the South Bohemian regional
authorities was in line with Czech legislation, dismissing protests
coming from neighbouring Austria. According to Austrian MPs, the Czech
Republic did not officially inform Austria of the step. Some Austrian
officials say the move was in breach of the 2001 Czech-Austrian
agreement of Melk concerning the security of the plant. The plant was
officially approved last Friday, six years after construction was
finished. The document became legally binding on Monday.
The plant, situated some 60 kilometres away from the Austrian border, has been widely criticised by certain Austrian politicians as well as Austrian and Czech environmentalists, who claim that it is dangerous.