President Barack Obama will probably visit Prague at the beginning of April for an EU-US summit, the Czech News Agency reported on Thursday, quoting a diplomatic source. The news website idnes.cz reported that Mr Obama would arrive in the Czech capital on April 4 or 5, though neither Prague’s US embassy nor the Czech president’s office have confirmed that the visit will occur. Czech officials have been pushing for some time to have the EU-US summit take place in Prague, as part of the Czech Republic’s presidency of the European Union.
The organisers of the Senate election campaign of Jiří Dienstbier have filed charges of fraud against him. The small Liberals.cz party say he conned them out of CZK150,000 when they financed his campaign on the understanding that he would work with the party if elected. However, he stood as a candidate for the Social Democrats, though he is not a member of the party. Liberals.cz say Mr Dienstbier breached an agreement with them when the Social Democrats provided him with an office. The former foreign minister has refused to comment on the matter.
From next month the carmaker Škoda Auto will resume production of most models five days a week at its plant in Mladá Boleslav, a spokesperson told reporters. The move comes in response to an increase in orders as incentives to buy new cars begin to have an impact in other European countries. The current four-day week will continue at another Škoda plant in Vrchlabí.
The Czech football star Pavel Nedvěd says he will retire at the end of this season regardless of whether his club Juventus win the European Champions League. Nedvěd, who is 36, was in action on Wednesday night when the Italian giants were beaten 1:0 at Chelsea in the first leg of a last 16 tie. Speaking to Czech journalists after the game, he said the time was right for him to quit. Nedvěd, only the second Czech ever named European footballer of the year, has previously indicated he may stay on at Juventus in a non-playing capacity.
Some jobs earmarked for foreigners under a green card scheme are now only open to Czechs and other EU citizens, the minister of labour, Petr Nečas, said on Thursday. The green card system, introduced at the start of this year, has 400 vacancies for foreigners. But 30 seamstresses positions in Česká Lípa in north Bohemia have had their status changed to exclude non-EU workers, Mr Nečas told reporters. Unemployment in the Czech Republic is on the rise, and stood at 6.8 percent last month.
The Czech minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, says it is possible European Union states will adopt a common position on accepting detainees from America’s Guantanamo Bay prison. Mr Langer made the comments in Brussels, where he was chairing a meeting of EU interior ministers as part of the Czech Republic’s six-month presidency of the bloc. He said the ministers first needed to know what the US expects and wants from EU states. President Obama has ordered the closing of the controversial prison, raising the question of what to do with its inmates. The subject will be on the agenda next month when the US secretary of state visits Brussels and Mr Langer and the EU justice commissioner visit Washington.
The airline Air France-KLM is planning to take part in a tender to buy the Czech state-owned carrier CSA, the news website euro.cz reported, quoting the French newspaper La Tribune. However, the German airline Lufthansa will not bid for Czech Airlines, euro.cz said. Tenders to participate in the privatisation must be delivered by March 23. Russia’s Aeroflot has repeatedly stated its interest in buying CSA.
The Ministry of Education is completing a proposal to give compensation to people thrown out of university for political reasons after the Communists took power in 1948. Mladá fronta Dnes reported that the plan should go before the government next month. A ministry representative told the newspaper it would apply to all cases until January 1 1990; it was previously suggested that only those expelled from higher education between 1948 and 1960 would receive compensation. It would amount to CZK 10,000 (USD 450).
A new survey released by pollsters Factum Invenio has suggested that 67 percent of Czechs approve of their government’s handling of the European presidency. Some 20 percent feel the opposite is true. The Czech Republic took over the rotating EU presidency from France at the start of the year, and will turn it over to Sweden in July. The EU presidency entails organising and chairing the meetings of the Council of the European Union, the main decision-making body of the EU.
A firm responsible for the organisation of mass transit in Prague has said that city bus drivers stole tens of millions of crowns from the company last year, Lidové noviny reported. Some ten percent of the city’s drivers are thought to be guilty of having accepted transit fees without issuing actual tickets. The number of passengers who were stolen from has been estimated at 2.8 million.