The Czech Republic has sharply criticized Belarus for manipulating a referendum that gives President Lukashenko the possibility of ruling indefinitely. It was a victory achieved by crude manipulation of both public opinion and the referendum results, a Czech foreign ministry statement says, noting that Lukashenko's regime had again missed an opportunity to improve relations with the democratic world. The Foreign Ministry said it would continue to provide support for Belarusian democratic forces.
A team of EU inspectors who have been checking out hygiene conditions in Czech meat and milk processing plants this week have found shortcomings at one slaughterhouse but according to the State Veterinary Office production at the plant needn't be suspended. An earlier inspection at the beginning of this year revealed that some plants were still short of fulfilling all EU hygiene criteria and they were given a few more months to comply. The plants inspected were chosen at random. The Czech Hygiene Office has already closed down 600 out of 4,000 plants which were unable to meet EU requirements.
President Klaus has called on the Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan to consider sacking Police President Jiri Kolar for his recent statements concerning phone tapping by the police. In connection with the investigation of an alleged bribery case in which the police tapped the phone of at least one high placed politician, the police president noted that tapping of private phone conversations is a normal police practice which does not breech citizens rights and should not bother them as long as they are innocent. President Klaus said he was shocked by the fact that the Police President should disregard a fundamental freedom guaranteed by the Constitution and expressed the view that he should not be allowed to remain in office.
The Czech and Danish prime ministers have said that if Turkey fulfils EU criteria it should be admitted to the European Union. During talks in Prague on Friday, the visiting Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he expected the December EU summit would give the start of accession talks with Turkey the green light. However the start of accession talks does not automatically imply admission at the end of the road, the Danish Prime Minister said, noting that Turkey would be under close scrutiny in meeting EU norms.
The longest-surviving Czech with a heart transplant is going to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of his successful surgery this Saturday. Sixty-eight-year old language teacher Rudolf Sekava from the eastern town of Jihlava is in good health. He still teaches at a local high school although long past retirement age. Mr Sekava had been diagnosed with a fatal heart condition and operated on in 1984 at the Prague Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. The institute has so far carried out over 500 heart transplants out of the Czech Republic's total of 740. There are currently 400 Czechs living with a heart transplant.
Government officials, trade unions and employers failed to reach a consensus on Thursday on the valorisation of the minimum wage in the coming year. The government proposal envisaged an increase by 600 crowns a month but trade unions considered it inadequate and pushed for an 800 crown increase to seven and a half thousand crowns. Employers want to keep the minimum wage at its present level.
A team of EU inspectors are checking out hygiene conditions in Czech meat and milk processing plants. An earlier inspection at the beginning of this year revealed that some plants were still short of fulfilling all EU hygiene criteria and they were given a few more months to comply. The plants are being chosen at random. The Czech Hygiene Office has already closed down 600 out of 4,000 plants which were unable to meet EU requirements.
The senior opposition Civic Democratic Party wants to call an extraordinary session of the lower house of parliament after police disclosed they had been monitoring the phone calls and bank accounts of the party's head, Mirek Topolanek. The party wants to establish an investigative committee in parliament and Mr Topolanek himself asked the Justice and Interior Ministers to explain the police activities. Police say they have transcripts of Mr Topolanek's phone calls recorded during the investigation of a recent alleged bribery case. But it is not clear whether the police were monitoring Mr Topolanek's phone or the phones of the two suspects in the case, Mr Topolanek's assistant, Marek Dalik, and lobbyist Jan Vecerek.
A public opinion poll carried out by the STEM polling agency ahead of the upcoming Senate and regional elections suggests that the ruling Social Democrats are gaining on the opposition Civic Democrats, who are in the lead with 28.2 percent of public support. Since July, the Social Democrats have gained 4.7 percent and now enjoy 18.3 percent of public support. The third strongest party, the poll suggests, are the Communists with 16.6 percent.
Minister without portfolio Jaroslav Bures has been put in charge of the government's anti-drug policy. He has been commissioned to draft a national anti-drug strategy for the next four years, working closely with the interior, health, justice and education ministers. Mr. Bures has allegedly requested two months to prepare the document. He told the media that he intended to focus on prevention rather than repression and said that instead of investing money into prevention programmes which state what is common knowledge the public should be given shock therapy and made to see the everyday reality of drug addiction.
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