Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra has said that the issue of a possible
stationing of a US missile defence base in Czech territory is likely to
be decided in January. He indicated some delay was to be expected given
recent changes at the US defense department, with former Secretary of
Defense Donald Rumsfeld newly replaced by Robert Gates. On Friday, Mr
Vondra reported to Czech MPs on negotiations underway at the request of
the Communist Party. The Communists are against the construction of a
defence base on Czech and on Friday tried unsuccessfully to push
through a proposal in the lower house blocking further talks on the US
If a base is agreed one solution could be a base could be divided into two parts: defence radar deployed in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland.
The Czech Republic will open its labour market to Romania and Bulgaria when the two countries join the European Union in January. But, the country reserves the right to limit the movement of labour if the number of workers reaches a level that limits employment opportunities for Czechs. Results of a poll in Bulgaria suggest that most workers who plan to seek employment abroad would prefer to work in Spain or Germany. A similar poll in Romania indicates that France, Italy, and Spain are the most attractive destinations.
The Czech financial newspaper Hospodarske Noviny has written that much of the next film in the Narnia Chronicles, Prince Caspian based on a series of books by C.S. Lewis, will be shot in the Czech Republic next year. The daily reports that both exteriors and much studio work will be shot in the Czech Republic, many interiors at the famous Barrandov Studios. The first instalment of the series "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" also included a number of scenes filmed in the Czech Republic: namely scenes among famous cliff formations in the area known as Cesky Raj - Czech Paradise.
A Finnish diplomatic source has said that the Czech Republic and other EU member states that joined in 2004, may join the Schengen zone as early as one year's time or early 2008. The Schengen zone harmonises external EU borders while dismantling internal border controls. Delays with the Schengen information system had suggested the Czechs' and others' joining of the zone could be pushed back as late as 2009.
The right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, leading negotiations in the
second attempt to form a government since inconclusive elections in June,
has said it hopes to complete a draft policy programme by Wednesday
next week. The announcement was made on Friday by deputy party chairman
Petr Necas, who said that the programme would then be assessed by
representatives from the four parties in negotiations.
It has not been decided whether all of the parties, the Civic, Social and Christian Democrats, as well as the Greens, will be represented in the future government.
So far, representatives though have agreed on the programme being divided in the following areas for discussion: public finances and taxes; social policy and pension reform; health care; entrepreneurship; security and anti-corruption measures; and the EU presidency and EU funds.
Czech military personnel have officially taken command at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Specialists in the Czech contingent will operate there for the next four months. It is the first command held by the Czechs within the ISAF. The Czech contingent is made up 47 members of the Czech Army, including specialists on air control, flight security, and logistics. In all, about 500 soldiers and specialists from about 20 NATO members and Afghanistan are serving under the command at Kabul airport.
The right-of-centre Civic Democrats have expressed opposition to the
Chamber of Deputies hosting a conference on Iraq. The planned
conference is reportedly to be broadcast by Al Jazeera television and
is expected to include participants from the Iraqi opposition critical
to US policy. The conference has been planned under the auspices of
lower house deputy speaker Lubomir Zaoralek. On Friday, Petr Tluchor,
the leader of the Civic Democrats' deputies' group, said that his party
was against the conference being held under the auspices of a high
constitutional official. Czech Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra also
suggested the lower house was not an appropriate location.
Mr Zaoralek, meanwhile, has reportedly said he does not yet have a list of all participants in the event; he has stressed the aim of the conference is to help promote European values as well as the EU's influence in Iraq.
The Civic Democrats intend to call a special lower house meeting to hold discussion on the date when a new Labour Code is to come into effect. Cabinet has proposed to introduce the Labour Code on January 1. 2008 instead of 2007. But Social Democrat and Communist deputies, who together hold 100 of the 200 seats in the lower house of Parliament, have blocked plans to vote on the proposal in Thursday's regular session.
Police have detained eleven foreign nationals suspected of people smuggling. The detainees, who include three women, are from five states and have been long term residents of the Czech Republic. Police suspect they issued citizens of Dagestan, Kazakhstan, and Syria official invitations to get them into the Czech Republic and from there smuggle them into Germany and France in trucks. They face up to ten years in prison if found guilty.
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