The Communist Party is reportedly at risk of paying millions of crowns in fines for withdrawing from a contract commissioning a new party headquarters in the Vysocany district in Prague. The project was to have been financed through the sale of the party's long term headquarters; but the party's executive committee earlier in the year decided against. According to earlier information, the new site was to have cost around 250 million crowns, the equivalent of around 11.5 million US dollars.
Czech political parties are weighing a variety of options in government
negotiations being headed by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek's
right-of-centre Civic Democrats. On Friday Civic Democratic party
officials met with Christian Democrats to discuss a possible "rainbow
coalition" excluding only the Communists. The idea has already been
rejected by the Social Democrats.
Meanwhile, the Communist Party on Friday suggested that while it would prefer supporting a centre-left government, it would be willing to agree on an interim government including all parties, provided the cabinet's main aim would be to lead the country to early elections.
A new poll released by the STEM agency asking Czechs to rate contributions by Czech politicians over the last 16 years has rated Presidents Vaclav Havel,Vaclav Klaus, as well as the late culture minister, Pavel Dostal, highly. Mr Dostal lost his battle to cancer last year. Each of the three received more than 60 percent positive response from around 1,500 people queried. Politicians rated least favourably in the poll included former prime ministers Vladimir Spidla and Stanislav Gross.
Representatives from Kaspch and the Czech Transport Ministry are expected to meet to negotiate on a new addendum to a road-toll systems contract, currently regarded as disadvantageous to the Czech state. A meeting is expected to take place next week. Kapsch has been developing the electronic system on highways in the Czech Republic - but the project suffered delays after the original tender was contested by other participants.
Former prime minister Vladimir Spidla has been questioned by police over the Unipetrol privatisation deal that went ahead under the Social Democrat government. Mr Spidla - now an EU commissioner -was the last of a number of high-profile individuals in Prague questioned over the sale following an investigation by Polish state attorneys looking into bribe allegations. The Czech stake in Unipetrol was sold to Polish concern PKN Orlen in 2004. On Friday Mr Spidla, speaking to journalists, said he had not registered any signs of corruption or improper procedure. So far, all witnesses heard have dismissed the possibility of corruption in the sale.
Police have revealed that seventeen people have been arrested for
involvement in a people-smuggling ring that brought at least 135
illegal immigrants to Western Europe. According to reports, the illegal
immigrants were from India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Police continue
to hold two suspects - both Indian nationals living in the Czech
Republic - in custody. A police spokeswoman said it was believed that
the smuggling activities had earned them an alleged 54 million crowns -
the equivalent of 2.5 million US dollars, but the profit figure as well
as the number of people smuggled through could be higher.
The suspected leaders of the operation face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
A new poll released by Factum Invenio has suggested that if elections were held today they would be won by the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. According to the poll, the party would win 96 mandates in the 200-member parliament, enough to govern with any other party. The survey suggests that the Social Democrats would come in second, with 60 seats, and the Communists third with 25. The Christian Democrats and the Greens would gain 10 and 9 mandates respectively.
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."
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