The Visegrad Four - Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic - as well as EU hopefuls Bulgaria and Romania have decided to speed up repairs on low quality pre-fabricated housing, a legacy of the countries' communist years. By the middle of this year, all projects that will be financed out of the EU's 2007-2013 budget, are to be completed. Representatives of the six countries discussed the future of their pre-fab housing estates at a meeting in Moravia's Lednice. A third of the country's 10 million inhabitants live in such estates.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is currently on a five-day official visit to the United States has held a brief meeting with the governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. Among the topics discussed were the Czech Republic's experiences with immigration, Czech-US relations, and the current development of Europe. The two politicians also looked into the possibilities of boosting Czech-Californian business relations and cooperating closer in the areas of tourism and higher education.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has said that there is no evidence suggesting that Czech tourists are among the victims of the blasts in the Egyptian resort of Dahab. According to the country's major travel agencies, their clients are safe and most of them do not plan to cut their stay short. A special telephone hotline has also been opened by the foreign ministry for those who have not been able to get in touch with their relatives in Egypt. Latest estimates say just under two dozen people have died in the blasts and around five dozen remain injured.
Police say they have found the body of a man in the Nove Mlyny dam in South Moravia. The man had been missing since April 3rd when rivers in the region started to swell as a result of persistent rain and melting snow. If an autopsy determines that the 42-year old man drowned, he will be the ninth casualty of this spring's floods in the Czech Republic.
European Union agriculture ministers have agreed to give farmers, who have been wrestling with a decrease in poultry and egg sales, extra aid. With the rising number of bird flu cases around Europe, the consumption of eggs and poultry has fallen dramatically in some EU states. Czech Agriculture Minister Jan Mladek hopes with the aid, foreign poultry suppliers affected by slumped sales will no longer be forced to sell their products at dumping prices in countries like the Czech Republic.
Two international trade fairs opened at the Exhibition Centre in Moravia's capital, Brno, on Tuesday. The Urbis Invest - a fair of investments, finance, real estate, and technologies for towns and communities as well as the Building trade fair will run until April 29. Some 1,350 exhibitors from 24 countries are hoping to attract around 100,000 visitors.
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has said he will propose to the
government to impose visa requirements on the citizens of Canada after
he failed on Monday to convince the newly elected Conservative
government in Ottawa to abolish visas for Czech tourists. Canada
imposed visa requirements on Czech citizens in October 1997, following
a wave of Roma arrivals who asked for political asylum in Canada.
Prior to the talks Mr Svoboda said he was prepared to file a suit against Canada at the European Court of Justice if the meetings in Ottawa were not successful. As a member of the European Union, the Czech Republic can request that the EU impose visa requirements on Canadians.
The Lower House of the Czech Parliament has overridden a presidential
veto of an expropriation bill, which enables the authorities to issue a
compulsory purchase order, when it is in the public's interest. This
would speed up the construction of roads, motorways, and railways, for
example. Czech President Vaclav Klaus vetoed the bill two weeks ago on
the grounds that it was vague in specifying what public interest
entailed and could therefore be abused.
Czech Deputies have also overturned a presidential veto of a law on sick benefits. As of next year, any benefits paid in the first two weeks when an employee is on sick leave will be covered by the employer and not by the state.