The Czech Republic will send humanitarian aid to Bangladesh hit by a disastrous cyclone on Thursday. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has agreed to earmark 1.5 million crowns for the devastated region. The help will be distributed via the International Red Cross. The Adra humanitarian organisation has launched a fund-raising campaign and has sent its representative to southern Bangladesh. As of Tuesday, People in Need and the Czech Catholic Charity will also open special accounts for public contributions. The cyclone Sidr has so far claimed more than 3,000 lives.
The west-Bohemian town of Cheb has agreed to establish a military cemetery for German soldiers who died on Czech territory during the Second World War. Until now, the soldiers’ remains were kept in Usti nad Labem and Brdy. Cheb councillors have agreed to build the cemetery on the condition that it will not be just for German soldiers but for any victims of war. The cemetery will be built using German funds.
The Czech Republic has managed to use up all of the money allocated by the European Union EQUAL programme promoting equal opportunities and employment of disadvantaged people, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Petr Necas said at a news conference on Monday. Altogether, the Czech Republic received more than 430 million crowns, or 24 million US dollars, from the European Social Fund. Mr Necas added that unemployment in the Czech Republic stood at 5.8 % in October, the lowest figure over the past nine months.
Only one fifth of Czechs are satisfied with the current political situation in the country, according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency. One third of those asked are happy with the Czech government and parliament. Czech president Vaclav Klaus has received the best rating, with 70 percent of respondents being satisfied with his work.
Czech teachers and other education employees plan to go on strike on 4 December unless they are promised an increase in next year’s education budget of three billion crowns, or 165 million US dollars. According to a senior union official, the draft budget doesn’t include enough money to pay for teachers’ salaries, teaching aids and teacher training. The trade unions also argue that the 1.5% pay rise included in the draft is not in line with inflation. The trade unions expect that most schools will join the strike.
The Czech judiciary will in the future be faster, comfortable and transparent under plans to reform the justice system put forward by the Ministry of Justice. The plans were presented by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil at a news conference on Monday. One of the main points of the reform is digitalisation of the judiciary sector that should simplify people’s access to courts and speed up judicial proceedings. The ministry is also planning an audit of the administrative staff in an effort to increase the efficiency of the courts.
The Gripen fighters fly without any limitations in the Czech Republic again after a Gripen accident that occurred in Sweden in April, the Czech Defence Ministry said. The Czech military first grounded Gripens and then limited their flights due to the accident, in which a pilot was ejected unintentionally. The Czech military took measures limiting the manoeuvres pilots can make in the air and adapted the ejector handles.
Iran has lifted its embargo on imports of Czech goods, according to the weekly Euro. Until this August, every business transaction had to be approved by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Due to the restrictions, Czech exporters found it difficult to enter the Iranian market. Iran introduced the embargo at the beginning of 2003 due to the Farsi service of Radio Free Europe, which is based in Prague.
The Communist Party claims that the governnment’s fiscal package approved by Parliament earlier this year is unconstitutional. The party has lodged a complaint with the Constitutional court, hoping to prevent the fiscal reforms taking effect at the beginning of 2008. One of the points made in the complaint is that the government cannot introduce health care fees when the Czech Constitution guarantees free health care to all citizens. The complaint has received backing from 17 deputies of the Social Democratic Party.
The Czech and Slovak prime ministers, Mirek Topolanek and Robert Fico, backed the idea of a joint bid to host the 2020 European football championships during a joint television interview on Sunday. Both premiers however stressed the challenge they faced in providing national stadiums that could meet the demands of hosting such a major event. Head of the Czech football federation Pavel Mokry raised the possibility of a joint Czech-Slovak bid to host the 2020 championships last week citing the similar languages, culture and available infrastructure in the two countries.
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