A Czech national has been deported from Cuba for taking part in a conference organized by Cuban dissidents. According to the Spanish news agency EFE -two Europeans - a Czech and a Slovak - who participated in a conference on free and fair elections on the island were arrested in Santa Clara on Sunday morning and shortly after put on a plane to Paris. The Czech Embassy in Havana said it had learnt about the incident from dissident sources but had received no official information.
In a related development, Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas Pojar said on Tuesday that he expected talks on the radar between Prague and Washington to last for several more months. Mr. Pojar said that while the Czech side had no interest in artificially prolonging the negotiations the small print was important not least because it would be crucial in obtaining Parliament's approval for the project.
Dagmar Havlova, wife of the former Czech president Vaclav Havel, is to play the lead role in a film directed by Zdenek Zelenka. Mrs. Havlova who was a prominent film and stage actress before she married the former president has already made a successful theatre come-back appearing in a comedy called Park Your Car in Harvard Yard. Her new role in film is based on the real life story of a mother who lost her son in a tragic accident.
The Prague Municipal Court has struck down a city hall ban on a planned neo-Nazi march through the city's historic Jewish quarter. The march has been set to take place on November 10th, the anniversary of Kristallnacht - a notorious Nazi pogrom against Jews in Germany in 1938. It is the second time the court has ruled in the favour of the right-wing extremists, making it likely the march will now take place. In its ruling the court cited serious procedural errors on the part of the city in its attempt to ban the planned event. According to reports, both sides in the case will receive written statements from the court on Wednesday. Prague City Hall has said it is not giving up the fight and will take further steps to prevent the march taking place.
The US has unveiled a plan to overcome Russian hostility to its European anti-missile shield. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is in Europe to drum up support for Washington's plan to deploy parts of a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland said at a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday that Washington might allow a Russian presence at the Czech radar facility and the interceptor missile site in Poland. Mr. Gates who has recently held talks in Moscow said the United States might delay the activation of its missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland if Russia agreed to cooperate. Prague and Warsaw are expected to come to a decision on the matter next year.
Clients of the travel agency Sunny Days who failed to return home from a holiday in Egypt on Sunday because of a plane defect were brought home on a charter flight early on Tuesday. Close to 180 holiday makers were stuck at Hurghada Airport for close to 48 hours after the Egyptian air company Coral Blue cancelled their flight, citing an engine defect. Many of them have said they are prepared to file complaints because they received little or no help from either the airline of the Sunny Days travel agency.
The lower house on Tuesday approved the 2008 state budget in its first reading. The proposed budget envisages a deficit of 70.8 billion crowns (3.68 billion dollars) or 2.95 percent of total economic output. The 2008 deficit is below the 3.0 percent of gross domestic product ceiling required for adoption of the single European currency, although Prague has not yet set a target date for the switch from the crown to the euro. Lower house committees can now delve into the finer details of the budget, with a second and final, third, reading scheduled for early December.
A poll conducted by the CVVM agency has suggested that trust in the president fell by five percent in October compared to June. Although 66 percent of respondents expressed confidence in President Vaclav Klaus this month, those are the lowest numbers the president has posted this year: five percent less than in June. By comparison, the government was viewed favourably in the poll by 33 percent of Czechs, the lower house 25 percent, and the Senate 27 percent. The level of confidence in these institutions has not changed substantially in the last few months.
The head of the Social Democratic Party's deputies' club Michal Hasek has put forward a complaint to the Constitutional Court regarding the government's public finance reforms. The reforms, passed in parliament and signed by the president, are to take effect on January 1st, 2008. The opposition Social Democrats have been critical of the government's reform package for months, not least of changes in the health care and social sectors; the party is of the view that the manner in which the proposal was debated in the lower house, including an amendment motion put forward by the prime minister, was itself "unconstitutional". The fifteen-member court has the authority to strike down legislation passed in contradiction to the constitution.
The Czech government has approved a plan to introduce green cards for non-EU foreigners in selected professions. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas revealed the news on Monday. Mr Necas said that the cards, which will provide a stay permit along with labour permit, should be introduced as quickly as possible. The government would like the cards to attract foreigners to areas short of labour. The local market lacks skilled manual workers as well as experts with university educations, Mr Necas stressed. According to the minister around 220,000 foreign workers legally work in the Czech Republic now. But a large number of them come from EU countries. the Czech Republic would like to attract more workers from outside the EU and the government expects the green cards will simplify the current work permit system.