The US will refrain from introducing import duties on glass and glass products from EU member states, according to the deputy prime minister for the economy Martin Jahn. The move would have led many Czech glass making firms into bankruptcy and Czech officials have made a big effort to persuade the US authorities against it. The US is expected to definitively confirm the decision to the World Trade Organization within the next few hours.
In a related development, Zdenek Koristka has demanded an apology from President Klaus for having labelled him "an unreliable figure" in a statement to the media. Mr. Klaus entered the fray on Thursday, saying he knew Mr. Koristka personally and that he did not consider him to be an altogether reliable figure. Zdenek Koristka underwent a lie detector test recently, which suggested that he was telling the truth. It was on the grounds if this test as well as several testimonies that the police detained the two men on Thursday.
Two men who were detained by the police on Thursday on suspicion of attempting to bribe a member of Parliament have been released on the order of a state attorney. The state attorney said on Friday that the police had not presented sufficient grounds for keeping them in custody. Marek Dalik, adviser to opposition Civic Democratic Party leader Mirek Topolanek, and lobbyist Jan Vecerek, are both suspected of attempting to bribe government coalition MP Zdenek Koristka ahead of a crucial vote in Parliament. Last month, Mr Koristka told a leading Czech daily that someone close to the Civic Democrats had offered him the equivalent of 300,000 euros in exchange for a "no" vote of confidence in the government.
Police say they have detained two men who are suspected of attempting to bribe government coalition MP Zdenek Koristka ahead of a crucial vote in parliament. The men are Marek Dalik, an adviser to the head of the opposition Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek, and lobbyist Jan Vecerek. Last month, Mr Koristka told a leading Czech daily that an unnamed figure from the Civic Democrats had offered him the equivalent of 300,000 euros in exchange for a "no" vote in a confidence vote, which would have brought down the new government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross. If found guilty, the two men detained on Thursday face one to five years in prison.
The Czech Republic is in favour of Germany, Japan and a representative of Africa, Asia and South America being given permanent places on the United Nations Security Council, the Czech Foreign Minister, Cyril Svoboda, said in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday. He said the Czech Republic would itself like to have a seat on the Security Council in 2008 and 2009. Mr Svoboda also said no one could remain neutral in the fight against international terrorism, which, he said spared no one, anywhere in the world.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel is one of 100 influential figures who have signed an open letter calling on European Union and NATO member states to change their approach to Russia, where they say President Vladimir Putin is using the Beslan school massacre as a pretext to undermining democracy in the country. Other signatories include former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt and political scientist Francis Fukuyama.
Cage beds may be used in social care institutions in cases where clients threaten their own health or the health of others, according to new rules approved by the government on Wednesday. The use of cage beds would also have to be registered under the regulations, which have yet to be discussed by parliament. Former health minister Josef Kubinyi banned cage beds in July, after criticism by Joanne Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books.
The Supreme Audit Office has criticised the manner in which the Defence Ministry spent NATO funds between 1999 and 2003. The Office pointed to inconsistencies, poor accounting and confusion in the Ministry's records in a report released on Wednesday. The Defence Ministry's right hand often did not know what its left hand was doing, said a spokesman for the Supreme Audit Office.
Some 300 people demonstrated on the main square of the Czech border town of Cheb on Tuesday against the supposed "Germanisation" of the Czech Republic and its loss of sovereignty. The Club of Czech Demonstrators (KCP) was protesting against what members see as excessive German ownership of formerly fully Czech-owned businesses.
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