Meanwhile, Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová met the head of the American Missile Defence Agency Henry Obering in Prague on Thursday to discuss the sighting of a US radar base in Central Bohemia. General Obering told journalists before the meeting that the US hoped to build a radar base in Brdy near Prague, in order to counter the threat of Iranian missiles, which, he said, would be capable of flying as far as Europe in two to three years’ time.
Two men have died in a mining accident in Darkov in the northeast of the Czech Republic. Both men were found unconscious by colleagues early Thursday morning. Rescue workers were unable to resuscitate the men when brought to the surface. The cause of the accident is being investigated by the mine owner - OKD. Work continued in other parts of the mine, a spokesperson for the company said, adding that other miners’ safety was not at risk.
Environment Minister Martin Bursík has said that he has no plans to increase the country’s reliance upon nuclear power. Mr Bursik’s remarks come just before the publication of a government-commissioned report, which advocates the development of more nuclear power stations in the Czech Republic. Mr Bursík said on Thursday that the country’s two existing nuclear power plants are ‘sufficient’, and that the government should instead focus on energy consumption, not production. The Environment Ministry wants households to cut down on the amount of energy they use, Mr Bursík said.
Meanwhile in Karlovy Vary, American actor Danny Glover received a festival president’s award on Wednesday. Glover, who is known best for his performances in the Lethal Weapon action films, is in Karlovy Vary this week to promote his new film Honeydripper, directed by John Sayles. On Wednesday night at the Grand Hotel Pupp, Danny Glover was presented with his Crystal Globe by the festival’s head, Jiří Bartoška.
The Czech Republic has completed negotiations with the United States on a second anti-missile defence agreement, it was announced on Wednesday. In an interview for Czech commercial radio Impuls, Deputy Foreign Minister Tomáš Pojar said that all terms of the agreement had been settled, though the official signing of the text could only be expected this autumn. The announcement comes a day after US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg signed a treaty paving the way for a US base to be sited in the former Soviet bloc country, sparking hostility from Russia which says the project threatens its security.
In other business news, a record number of 32,300 foreign workers came to the Czech Republic in the first half of this year, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on Thursday. This number is up by 8,000 on figures from the same time last year. A total of 272,500 foreigners were registered employed in the Czech Republic at the end of June. The biggest single group of foreign workers came from Slovakia, with Slovaks making up over a third of this number. Ukrainians and Vietnamese also accounted for a large percentage of the Czech Republic’s foreign labour force.
The head of the Czech Greens, Martin Bursík, has called on his party to hold an extraordinary congress in a bid to reaffirm his mandate. The environment minister intends to assemble his party for a conference in September, at which party members would vote for a new leadership and new party statutes. Analysts say that Mr Bursík is seeking to shore up support within his party ahead of key votes on the US radar and the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Bursík’s critics within the party say his request for a conference is undemocratic, and that they are considering blocking the move.
Thursday sees the most expensive film ever made in Central Europe, ‘Bathory’, go on general release in Prague. The release follows the movie’s premiere at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday, where the film received mixed reviews. The Slovak-Czech-Hungarian-British co-production retraces the life of the countess Erzebeth Bathory, a mysterious 17th-century Hungarian noblewoman thought to be a vampire. British actress Anna Friel stars as the bloodthirsty countess, playing alongside Czech star Karel Roden, who fills one of the two male leads.
Czech industrial production rose by 3.4 percent year on year in May, slowing from April’s 12.2 percent increase, the Czech statistical office said on Tuesday. In the manufacturing sector, the biggest output gains were in the machinery and transport equipment sectors. Production of food, drinks and textiles fell. New orders in May stood at 98.1 percent of their level a year earlier, with exporters complaining that they are losing market share following the recent surge in the value of the Czech crown against both the euro and the dollar.
The Czech-US missile defense treaty still needs to be approved by Parliament and a vote on it is expected late this year or early next year. The issue has divided the Czech political scene and support for it in the lower house is far from certain. Public opinion is also against the radar base with 68 percent of Czechs opposing the deal. Close to two thousand people took to the streets of Prague on Tuesday to protest against the treaty.
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