The Prague Stock Exhange's PX index set a new trading high point of 1623.9 points shortly before noon on Monday following a 0.76 percent advance during morning trading. The Czech electricity giant, CEZ, fuelled the rise, rising to a record high point of 1001.0 crowns. Analysts say other leading shares also rose as investors tried to fill their portfolios before the end of the year.
The Prague city hall is planning to establish a special working group involving doctors and social workers, to tackle issues connected to homeless people in the capital. The number of homeless persons in Prague is estimated at 6,000 and there is a shortage of beds available for them in winter months. A special boat on the Vltava River should serve as a dormitory for homeless people as of January and in the case of severe weather, a special tent city will be raised like last year.
Experts from the Civic Democratic, Social Democratic and Christian Democratic parties that are negotiating about the future government have identified several points on which their respective parties will not agree. Among those are personal income tax, payments for hospitalisation, the volume of social spending and a law on non-profit hospitals. The leaders of the three parties are to assess the contentious points and decide on the final version of the government's programme. Prime Minister designate, Mirek Topolanek, is to present the names of new cabinet ministers to President Vaclav Klaus later this week.
Former Czech president and anti-communist dissident Vaclav Havel has urged tourists to shun Cuba as a holiday destination, in a video message showing solidarity with Cuban dissidents. The video shows the former president dressed in a prisoner's uniform, sitting in a make-believe waiting room amongst patients who are completely oblivious of him while Mr Havel recalls a personal experience of being taken, as a political prisoner, from his cell to a dentist's surgery in town where people in the waiting room pretended not to see him. Mr Havel's message was aired at a conference organised by Polish Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president Lech Walesa, aimed at showing solidarity with dissidents in Cuba.
President Vaclav Klaus will begin a two-day visit to South Africa on Tuesday, the first ever by a Czech head of state. He is set to meet President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria to discuss political and economic issues. South Africa is the Czech Republic's biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa - nearly 40 percent of its trade with the region takes place with South Africa. Later on Tuesday, President Klaus will speak at the opening of a South Africa-Czech Republic business forum in Pretoria.
Prague's Barrandov Studios say they have opened the largest film studio in Europe. Construction work started this spring on an area of some 4,000 square metres and the final cost has reached 200 million crowns. The studios say it has been the biggest investment in the Czech film industry in the last sixty years. The first foreign production to be shot in the new studio will be the sequel to the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
According to a report by the Czech Statistical Office, the number of foreign nationals living in the Czech Republic reached 310,000 in September, which is around 2.5 percent of the country's total population. The office said the most foreigners live in the capital Prague but the numbers are rising across the country, with citizens of Ukraine being the most numerous community.
The Czech foreign minister Alexanader Vondra wants to appeal to the EU to show greater benevolence to Serbia and Turkey. At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday the Czech delegation is planning to stress the need for Serbia to receive a positive signal from the EU ahead of its parliamentary elections in January. "Serbia should know that Europe has not abandoned it and that the EU supports the democratic forces in the country" the Czech foreign ministry's spokeswoman Zuzana Opletalova told the CTK news agency. Brussels broke off accession talks with the Serb Republic for allegedly not doing enough to apprehend war criminals.
The newly elected leader of the Christian Democratic Party Jiri Cunek says he wants a coalition government which would include the Social Democrats. Mr. Cunek said he would have preferred a four-party coalition involving the Greens but since that no longer seemed possible he would push for a deal with the Civic and Social Democrats. "The agreement on a future government must receive backing from the entire Social Democratic Party, not just rely on a number of turn-coats," Mr. Cunek told journalists.
Overall, politicians from rival parties have welcomed Mr. Cunek's election to the post of chairman. Pavel Bem, deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats, said he saw this as a step in the right direction. Zdenek Skromach, deputy chairman of the Social Democrats said Mr. Cunek's election was good news above all for the Christian Democrats since it would give the party a chance to recover from its slump. And Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip is hoping that Mr. Cunek's pragmatic attitude may help the Christian Democrats overcome their long-standing aversion towards the Communist Party. Political analysts are careful in their predictions but several have expressed the belief that Mr. Cunek's election could improve the party's ties with the Social Democrats.
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