The Israeli cabinet member in charge of religious affairs, Yitzhak Cohen, has said he will boycott his country's deal with the biggest Czech car manufacturer Skoda Auto, which is owned by German Volkswagen. Along with Audi, Skoda won a tender to provide vehicles for the Israeli government. Mr Cohen said he will not accept cars connected to a German concern. The Prague Jewish Community has responded by saying the division of products according to country of origin is inappropriate in today's world. Israel's official boycott of German products ended in the late 1960s.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus has become the face of a US media campaign entitled "Global Warming is No Crisis", questioning the impact of global warming on the Earth. A picture of the Czech head of state will appear in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post next to the picture of the former US vice-president Al Gore. The campaign is organised by the US Heartland Institute, which argues that the debate over global warming has been politicized. It also draws attention to Mr Klaus' speech, which is scheduled to take place in two weeks time at the UN conference on global warming.
Talks between Czech and US negotiators regarding the legal framework of a planned US radar base on the Czech territory started in Prague today. The talks are focusing on the legal status of the base and its staff, as well as access by Czechs, the impact on traffic in the radar's surroundings, and the use of weapons. The talks will end on Wednesday but further negotiations will continue in the coming months. According to US experts, the most suitable place for stationing the US radar base, part of a broader missile defence shield, is the village of Misov in the Brdy military zone, some 90 kilometres southwest of Prague.
Czech Senate deputy chairman Petr Pithart of the Christian Democrats will announce next week whether he will run for the presidency in 2008. Mr Pithart's possible nomination was discussed along with other names at the Christian Democratic meeting on Monday, but the party failed to reach any agreement. Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Democrat leader Jiri Cunek said talks would continue with leaders of other parties including the Social Democrats on possibly fielding a joint candidate to challenge the current incumbent Vaclav Klaus.
The Czech government is considering nominating former agriculture minister Milena Vicenova to the post of Czech ambassador to the EU. The current ambassador Jan Kohout is to be replaced by the end of the year, although his official term expires only in May 2008. The government says a new ambassador needs more time to prepare for the Czech EU presidency in 2009. The name of the new ambassador will be announced by next week.
Number of Czechs who contracted the tick-borne Lyme disease has grown this year, while the incidence of tick-borne encephalitis has decreased, the National Health Institute announced. Between January and September, doctors registered more than 2,000 people infected with tick-borne Lyme disease, which is almost 200 more than in the same period last year. The figures can still increase in the autumn, when a second wave of ticks is expected to arrive.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus said at a meeting with university students in Jihlava that if the US radar base and foreign troops were stationed in the Czech Republic, it would not threaten the country's sovereignty. He added that the transfer of certain decision-making powers to Brussels was a bigger loss for the Czech Republic's sovereignty than the presence of foreign soldiers that would be subject to Czech law.
A new opinion poll by the MORI sociological institute indicates that the Civic Democrats are still the most popular party in the country but have lost ground to their main rivals the Social Democrats. According to the survey, the Civic Democrats would win 33.9 percent of the vote if an election were to be held now, while the Social Democrats would garner 29.8 percent, an increase of nearly 8 percentage points since the last poll conducted by the same institute. MORI's research also indicates that the Communist Party would finish third in an election with 13.1 percent of the vote followed by the Greens and Christian Democrats with 10.7 percent and 6.3 percent respectively.
Ministry of Defence spokesman Andrej Cirtek announced on Monday that the ministry wants to reduce its number of employees by up to 1200 between 2008 and 2010. The job cuts are part of a planned streamlining of the military to ensure that the Czech Republic is better equipped to fulfil tasks ensuing from its membership of NATO, the EU and the UN. Cirtek added, however, that it was too early to specify which areas of the military would be affected by the job cuts. The ministry currently employs 25,000 career soldiers and 20,000 civilian personnel.
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