Meanwhile, Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová met the head of the American Missile Defence Agency Henry Obering in Prague on Thursday to discuss the sighting of a US radar base in Central Bohemia. General Obering told journalists before the meeting that the US hoped to build a radar base in Brdy near Prague, in order to counter the threat of Iranian missiles, which, he said, would be capable of flying as far as Europe in two to three years’ time.
Two men have died in a mining accident in Darkov in the northeast of the Czech Republic. Both men were found unconscious by colleagues early Thursday morning. Rescue workers were unable to resuscitate the men when brought to the surface. The cause of the accident is being investigated by the mine owner - OKD. Work continued in other parts of the mine, a spokesperson for the company said, adding that other miners’ safety was not at risk.
Environment Minister Martin Bursík has said that he has no plans to increase the country’s reliance upon nuclear power. Mr Bursik’s remarks come just before the publication of a government-commissioned report, which advocates the development of more nuclear power stations in the Czech Republic. Mr Bursík said on Thursday that the country’s two existing nuclear power plants are ‘sufficient’, and that the government should instead focus on energy consumption, not production. The Environment Ministry wants households to cut down on the amount of energy they use, Mr Bursík said.
The Czech Republic has completed negotiations with the United States on a second anti-missile defence agreement, it was announced on Wednesday. In an interview for Czech commercial radio Impuls, Deputy Foreign Minister Tomáš Pojar said that all terms of the agreement had been settled, though the official signing of the text could only be expected this autumn. The announcement comes a day after US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg signed a treaty paving the way for a US base to be sited in the former Soviet bloc country, sparking hostility from Russia which says the project threatens its security.
Meanwhile in Karlovy Vary, American actor Danny Glover received a festival president’s award on Wednesday. Glover, who is known best for his performances in the Lethal Weapon action films, is in Karlovy Vary this week to promote his new film Honeydripper, directed by John Sayles. On Wednesday night at the Grand Hotel Pupp, Danny Glover was presented with his Crystal Globe by the festival’s head, Jiří Bartoška.
In other business news, a record number of 32,300 foreign workers came to the Czech Republic in the first half of this year, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs on Thursday. This number is up by 8,000 on figures from the same time last year. A total of 272,500 foreigners were registered employed in the Czech Republic at the end of June. The biggest single group of foreign workers came from Slovakia, with Slovaks making up over a third of this number. Ukrainians and Vietnamese also accounted for a large percentage of the Czech Republic’s foreign labour force.
The head of the Czech Greens, Martin Bursík, has called on his party to hold an extraordinary congress in a bid to reaffirm his mandate. The environment minister intends to assemble his party for a conference in September, at which party members would vote for a new leadership and new party statutes. Analysts say that Mr Bursík is seeking to shore up support within his party ahead of key votes on the US radar and the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Bursík’s critics within the party say his request for a conference is undemocratic, and that they are considering blocking the move.
There is heightened tension between the United States and Russia following the signing of a missile defense treaty between Washington and Prague on Tuesday. The agreement opens the way for the deployment of a US tracking radar on Czech soil. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said his country was “extremely upset” by this development and was considering retaliatory action. Speaking at a meeting of Group of Eight leaders in Japan President Medvedev said that although Moscow considered these plans a threat to its security it would act “without hysteria” and remain open to talks.
A twenty-nine year old man who is responsible for the death of a two year old girl faces an extraordinary punishment, even a life sentence, after an autopsy revealed that the child – his live-in girlfriend’s daughter – had been submitted to cruel long-term abuse. The man was originally charged with physical violence resulting in death for which he could have spent a maximum eight years in prison, but the charges against him have now been changed in view of the gravity of the medical findings. The police are also questioning the child’s mother who claims she had no idea of what was going on when she was away at work.
There is speculation as to the outcome of an investigation into the finances of Deputy Prime Minister Jiří Čunek by the private US detective agency Kroll. The investigation was commissioned and paid for by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg who remained skeptical with regard to Mr. Čuneks’ proclaimed innocence after the police concluded that the corruption allegations against him were ungrounded. Mr. Čunek was accused of taking a one and a half million crown bribe while he was mayor of a town in Moravia. Minister Schwarzenberg said that if the Kroll investigation did not clear Mr. Čunek he himself would resign as foreign minister. Mr. Schwarzenberg received the results of the investigation a week ago but said on Wednesday he had been too busy with the Czech-US radar deal to study it properly.
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