Fifty seven percent of Czechs would like to see Vaclav Klaus re-elected president, according to the outcome of a poll conducted by the Median agency. Respondents were asked to choose between Mr. Klaus and four other candidates whose names have been floated in connection with the next year's presidential election. Under Czech law the president is elected by both houses of Parliament. Although several names have been floated no strong rival for Mr. Klaus has yet emerged.
On a two day visit to France Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The talks focused on bilateral issues, preparations for the Czech Republic's EU presidency in 2009 and Washington's plans to locate part of its missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland. Both politicians agreed that the US missile defense shield should be on the agenda of the NATO summit to be held in Bucharest next April. The Czech prime minister also invited President Sarkozy to visit Prague although no specific date has as yet been set.
Ten policemen who were suspected of taking bribes have been charged with abuse of office and dismissed from the force, a police spokeswoman told the CTK press agency on Tuesday. The officers were members of the traffic police who regularly boosted their family budgets by pocketing fines. Drivers reported the fact that they had not received a receipt for the paid fine and that on occasion officers had openly asked for a bribe.
The police have concluded that the eviction of several dozen Romany families from the centre of Vsetin was not in violation of the law. The eviction was ordered by then mayor Jiri Cunek, currently deputy prime minister and head of the Christian Democratic Party. At the time of the eviction a group of Romanies filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Cunek accusing him of abuse of power, defamation of race and slander. The police say Mr. Cunek committed none of the mentioned crimes and have closed the case.
Slavia Prague beat its city rival Sparta 2:0 on Monday in the Czech first football division. Slavia, currently in the lead of the Gambrinus Liga and the only Czech club taking part in this year's Champions League, first scored in the 3rd minute after a corner kick; the second goal in Sparta's net came in the 85th minute. The game was heavily influenced by the absence of Sparta's midfielder Pavel Hortvath who was sent off for kicking one of Slavia's footballers right before half-time. Slavia Prague won on Sparta's home ground for the first time in 14 years.
Czech students have collected more than 30,000 signatures under a petition for Briton Nicholas Winton to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for saving 669 mostly Jewish children from the Nazis by organizing transports out of Czechoslovakia before World War Two and finding temporary homes for them in Britain. The initiative has received support from Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg who said that he had already sent a letter to the Stockholm-based committee that decides about the prizes. Mr. Winton is currently in Prague attending Forum 2,000. He also met with Czech students and some of the children who survived the war thanks to his assistance. On Wednesday he is to meet with President Vaclav Klaus. In recognition of his brave deed Queen Elizabeth II promoted Nicholas Winton to knighthood and the Czech Republic awarded him the Tomas Garrigue Masaryk Order in 1998.
The opposition Social Democrats will consider supporting economist Jan Svejnar in next year's presidential election, party leader Jiri Paroubek told journalists after Svejnar visited the party's deputy group in the lower house on Tuesday. Mr. Svejnar has not ruled out the possibility of running in the election if he received broad support. Other potential candidates for the post are former foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier and Vaclav Paces, chairman of the Czech Academy of Sciences. In order for any candidate to present a serious challenge to the incumbent president he would need to win support from four parliamentary parties -the Greens, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and the Communists.
The EC has advised the Czech Republic to work on cutting its public spending deficit to below one percent of the GDP by 2012. In its annual report on member states finances the EC says that a gradual reduction of the Czech Republic's steep budget deficit is essential for paving the way to the adoption of the single currency. It has recommended a budget deficit below three percent of the GDP in 2008. The centre-right Czech government says that this is a realistic target. However the country has had problems fulfilling its commitments in the past. This year's budget deficit is expected to be around 3.6 percent of the GDP although the country had pledged not to exceed 3.3 percent.
The number of foreigners who are working in the country legally has risen to 223,000 according to the Czech Labour Ministry. The rise is being attributed to declining unemployment and a lack of skilled labour force resulting from the fact that many Czech experts have sought better paid jobs in western Europe. The ministry says that many Czech companies would be unable to operate without the foreign labour force, and some sectors are heavily dependant on them. Most of the foreign workers seeking jobs in this country are from Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine.
The Czech state and the church should annually rotate the management of St Vitus cathedral at Prague Castle, former Czech president Vaclav Havel has proposed in an attempt to bring a solution to the ongoing dispute over the cathedral's ownership. Under Havel's plan, the cathedral and the nearby premises should be turned into a company managed by a ten-member board, consisting of five politicians and five church dignitaries. The head of the state and the Czech archbishop would annually rotate chairing the board. The two are however reserved to the proposal. The dispute over the most visited Czech church has been going on for more than 14 years. According to the last court ruling two weeks ago the cathedral will remain in the ownership of the state. However, the church has appealed the verdict.
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