The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, also in Brussels, has also
reacted, saying that a failure to reach a deal on Friday could have a
negative impact on new EU member states.
"If there is no deal today it could be difficult for the new member states. But, still, I believe that we are 'sitting at the same table'. I believe we have to reach a consensus on the financial proposal. And, if the proposal is against the new member states, then well we will say 'No'."
The foreign minister said that the Visegrad countries, of which the Czech Republic is a part, were more or less sticking together on a number of issues:
"There are some slight, differences, definitely: from the macro-economic point of view agriculture is currently not as important, but politically yes, politically definitely. Generally speaking we stick together."
Czech property owners have filed more than 1,500 complaints with the
European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over regulated rent in the
Czech Republic. The deputy chairman of the Association for Property
Owners, Milan Krcek, said the full number - 1,607 - was not yet final.
House owners estimate that losses related to regulation are worth 40
billion crowns, the equivalent of 1.6 billion dollars US, since 2002.
House owners say that funds from regulated rent are not sufficient to
cover maintenance costs. They are asking for an immediate rise and
pushing for rent to reflect real-market value by 2010.
Rent-regulation concerns some 750,000 apartments in the Czech Republic, about 20 percent of homes. About 300,000 are privately-owned.
In terms of Czech reaction Radio Prague spoke with Czech Prime Minister
Jiri Paroubek: the Czech delegation in Brussels has been pushing for an
agreement and the prime minister has said difficulties were hardly
unexpected in such important talks.
"I'll say it with an example from history: [even] the old Austro-Hungarian Empire, after 1870, had budget talks every 10 years and it was always a 'crisis'. It's a normal thing: when we talk about the budget it's not easy."
Bohumil Kulinsky, the director of the prestigious Bambini di Praga girls choir, accused of sexually abusing underage girls is to stay in police custody for at least another three months. According to the State Attorney handling his case, Mr Kulinsky cannot be released as the chances that he would try and influence witnesses are high. The prestigious Bambini di Praga girls choir, made up of girls aged 12 to 19, performs nationally and internationally with leading Czech and foreign orchestras. Since Mr Kulinsky's arrest last year in November, over one hundred former choir members have come forward with accusations of sexual abuse.
Telefonica's acquisition of the majority stake in the Czech Republic's biggest fixed line operator, Cesky Telecom, is final. The Spanish telecommunications company won the privatisation tender with the highest bid - 82.6 billion crowns (a little over 3.5 billion US dollars). On Wednesday, it paid the National Property Fund a remaining 90 percent of the purchase price and is now the owner of the state's 51.1 percent stake in Cesky Telecom, which also owns the country's leading mobile operator Eurotel.
The Senate has approved a law allowing the issuing of more than 72 billion crowns, (the equivalent of over 3 billion U.S. dollars), in bonds to help cover this year's state budget deficit. Bonds are likely to be issued on both domestic and foreign markets, while the remainder of the deficit, some 11 billion crowns, is to be covered by long-term loans from the European Investment Bank. The law has yet to be signed by the president to come into effect.
European Union leaders are attending a summit on Thursday and Friday in
Brussels to discuss the fate of the EU constitution and try to reach an
agreement on the Union's contested budget for 2007-2013. Before the
meeting, Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, for whom this is the first
official visit to Brussels as prime minister, met with NATO Secretary
General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and European Commission President Jose
Manuel Barroso to reassure them of the continuity of the Czech Republic's
position in NATO and the EU.
Mr Paroubek also appealed that the ratification process of the European Union constitution continue but that the period be extended beyond 2006 to give the countries more time for reflection. With regards to the European budget, the Czech prime minister says he aims to achieve the best terms for the Czech Republic.
The Czech government has agreed to release an extra 634 million crowns (around 28 million US dollars) out of next year's state budget to help the Justice Ministry cover a wage increase for judges and state attorneys. From the beginning of this year, their salaries have increased by 18 percent with their average monthly wage at 50,400 crowns (around 2,200 US dollars) for judges and 45,400 crowns (around 2,000 US dollars) for state attorneys. Some 2,963 judges and 1,113 state attorneys are paid by the ministry.
A Prague court has sent a foreign national to 12 years in jail for robbing and raping a number of women. Thirty year old Marius Dragan was found guilty of several counts of rape, assault and theft in the months between March and June of last year. His victims were so badly beaten they had to be hospitalized and women living in Prague's Jizny Mesto, lived in fear of being attacked. The police only managed to capture Dragan when they used a police woman as a decoy.
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