The administrator of Czech state property (UZSVM) has announced that ownership of 64 Czech border crossings will be transferred to the Interior Ministry and customs authorities at the start of next year when the country joins the Schengen area. The Czech Republic will be joining the Schengen zone on 1 January 2008, a move which will result in the lifting of the country's border controls with other EU member states. If the Interior Ministry and the customs administration can find no use for the properties, they will then be offered to regional and municipal authorities. Any properties not taken over by state bodies will then be offered to private companies and individuals.
The Czech police have accused five people of corruption involving Defence Ministry tenders, the daily Pravo writes. According to the paper's Tuesday edition one civil servant and four businesspeople have been accused of trying to influence who won various lucrative tenders, including cleaning and catering service contracts and orders for the renovation of army buildings. Pravo claims the charges are part of a large-scale investigation involving high-ranking ministry officials and half a billion Czech crowns or nearly 25 million US dollars.
Veteran Czech decathlete Tomas Dvorak has lost his battle to be fit for this year's World Championships in Japan. The three times world champion had been hoping to compete in his eighth world championship but failed to recover in time from a heel injury he sustained at an athletics meeting in Kladno at the end of June. The Czech Republic will still be represented in this year's decathlon event by Olympic-champion Roman Sebrle and Josef Karas.
Czech pole-vaulter Katerina Badurova has won silver and broken the Czech national record at the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan. Her first vault of 475 cm in the final of the event on Tuesday broke her own previous record by 5 cm. It was also enough to earn her second place in the discipline, 5 cm below Russian world-record holder Yelena Isinbayeva.
A delegation of representatives from the US Congress has praised the Czech Republic for its critical stance on the Castro regime in Cuba. The congressmen met with representatives of the Czech Parliament on Tuesday to discuss measures that could be taken to pressurise the Cuban government into implementing democratic change on the island. Speaking after the meeting, the vice-chairman of the Czech Senate Petr Pithart said that the US politicians had described the Czech government's support of democratic opposition in Cuba as "exemplary".
Czech teachers unions announced on Tuesday that they are telling their members to be ready to go on strike over government spending cuts in education. They say the move is in response to the government's failure to react to a petition they submitted to it at the end of June with over 64,000 signatures protesting about the government's management of the country's education system. Among other things the unions are unhappy at plans to cut university budgets by a billion Czech crowns or over 50 million US dollars and the low level of teachers' wages. A spokesperson for the Education Ministry said the government understood the unions' position but that the planned spending cuts would have to be respected.
Czech women's 400-m runner Zuzana Hejnova has broken the Czech national record at the World Athletics Championships in Osaka, Japan. The 20-year-old's time of 55.04 seconds in the semi-final of the event on Tuesday knocked nearly eight tenths of a second off the previous best Czech time in the discipline. Unfortunately, Hejnova's performance was not good enough for her to qualify for Wednesday's final.
Prague city authorities have suspended all grants for artistic and cultural projects in 2008. A Prague councillor said the move had to be taken while a case against the city was being heard at the European Court of Justice. A Prague theatre owner is currently suing the city in Luxembourg for what he claims are discriminatory practices in the grant-giving process for Prague's theatre venues.
Czech Social Democrat senators have said that they will be proposing a
bill to reject the government's new financial reforms. The senators
announced on Tuesday that they would be rejecting the reforms because they
will not succeed in cutting public spending deficits and will also hurt
The controversial financial reforms, which were narrowly passed by parliament last week, include the introduction of a flat tax and increased VAT for certain products. They also include changes to the country's health and social insurance systems.
The new reforms will be discussed by the senate next month. They are not expected to encounter any problems in the upper house, where the governing coalition has a clear majority.
At a meeting of Czech ambassadors on Monday, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg called for consistency in the country's foreign policy. He called for the strengthening of transatlantic bonds, saying the Czech Republic and its partners over the Atlantic "were linked by the values they shared". Mr. Schwarzenberg said that the Czech Republic's relations with neighbouring Poland and Germany were excellent, while relations with Austria were good, with the occasional hitch. Mr. Schwarzenberg was addressing an annual meeting of Czech ambassadors in Prague's Cerninsky Palac when he made the remarks.
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