On Friday, in the second phase of a project that offers foreigners living in the Czech Republic free air fare and an 8000 crown support fee to return home, almost 200 have volunteered to return to their native country. The program assisting foreigners who have lost their job due to the financial crisis was initiated to lower the risk of crime related to unemployment in foreign residents. During the project’s first phase, almost 2000 foreigners took advantage of the offer. In both phases, residents from Mongolia were the ethnic group that took advantage of the offer the most.
Police caught a ram that was running wild on one of Prague’s busiest streets on Friday. “We chased the animal into a parking garage, where a helpful local assisted us in catching it," spokesman of the Prague police Jan Čihák told the news agency ČTK. The owner of the ram called the police and informed them that the animal had escaped. After the owner got news that the animal had been caught, he came to pick up the escaped ram.
Friday morning, almost all of the 95,000 doses of the H1N1 vaccine that the Czech Republic was given were distributed to physicians and vaccination centers across the nation. Almost 90 percent of all physicians and 133 vaccination centers now have the substance in stock. Full-scale vaccination can begin next week and some doctors were able to start on Friday already. The head of the Czech Immunology Society Roman Prymula said on Thursday that swine flu caused more health complications and resulted in more deaths than the seasonal flu. Three regions of the Czech Republic have now reached the threshold of an epidemic and eight Czechs have died of the disease so far.
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority announced Friday that the brewery Radegast had passed its inspection and is now entitled to call itself a “Czech Beer,” a name that is protected and requires a certain standard of quality. Other brands that are allowed to call their brews a “Czech Beer” are Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus and Velkopopovický Kozel. The European Union introduced protected designations of origin for agricultural and food products in 1993 to help consumers discern quality products more easily. In the Czech Republic, the protected status of beer has added to the regard and success of the product abroad, says Jiříi Mareček, spokesman of the brewers’ association Prazdroj Pilsen.
Former Interior Minister and member of the Civic Democrats Party Ivan Langer said in an interview with the Czech daily newspaper Lidové noviny on Friday that he is considering to run for the post of Civic Democrats leader, but wasn’t interested in becoming the party’s candidate for prime minister. Some members of the party have suggested a new, two-fold model of party leadership. The post of party leader, under the new model, would not entail running for the post of prime minister. Mr. Langer argued that when Mírek Topolánek was prime minister, he was too busy with the executive and with the Czech EU presidency to find time for his own party and suggested this new model could help prevent such problems in the future.
This weekend, two Christmas markets will open in the center of Prague. Starting Saturday, visitors can browse hand-made goods and traditional Czech Christmas fare at the Christmas market on Prague’s Old Town square that boasts some one hundred booths and will feature live music from around the world. On Sunday, a smaller and more modern market in the Czech capital’s center will open its gates to visitors at the bottom of Wenceslas Square. Throughout the city, a number of other Christmas markets will be held starting in late November and early December.
The Ministry of Education announced Friday that four Czech research
projects will receive 2.4 billion crowns from the budget of the EU
operational program for research and development. The recipients are
technical universities in Liberec and Brno, as well as the Academy of
Sciences and the Veterinary Research Institute.
The highest subsidy of 800 million crowns will go to the Technical
University in Liberec, which will use the funds to create a
state-of-the-art research center for nanotechnology. The Technical
University in Brno received over 700 million crowns to build the NETME
Center, a place where new technologies will be researched and developed.
Another four billion crowns are yet to be distributed amongst further
In related news, in a list of the most successful new member countries that have applied for EU funds between 2004 and 2007, the Czech Republic placed fourth.
The company Thomas CZ, one of the leading arms manufacturers in the Czech Republic, stated in its yearly report published on Friday that it will no longer deal in arms. Jiří Tomes, a member of the company’s board said that while Thomas CZ had made profit of 52 million crowns in 2007, it had lost 6 million crowns in 2008. The company will now focus on the sale of agricultural and automotive technologies.
Leader of the Social Democrats party Jiří Paroubek said on Friday that Minister of Finance Eduard Janota had addressed the inadequately high bonuses given to former managers of the Czech airline ČSA too late. Mr. Paroubek said he nonetheless appreciated Mr. Janota’s effort to investigate bonuses given to managers of companies that the state owns stock in, such as Prague Airport or the Czech energy company ČEZ. After news that 15 former managers of the Czech airline ČSA would receive about 120 million Czech crowns in bonuses, Minister of Finance Eduard Janota said Thursday that he considered the bonuses inappropriately high and that he will wage a large-scale investigation into bonuses received by managers of other semi state-owned companies, starting next week.
The president of the European Commission Jose Barosso confirmed on Friday that the Czech EU commissioner Stefan Füle has received the EU enlargement portfolio. Aside from evaluating applications for EU membership, Mr. Füle will also be responsible for relations to neighbor states of the EU that are not in line for joining. During the five-year term that Mr. Füle will serve, Croatia is expected to join the European Union. Mr. Füle still has to be officially confirmed in this position by the EU member states and the EU parliament. He replaces Vladimír Špidla, the former Czech EU commissioner, who was in charge of social affairs.
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