Vietnam has suspended the sending of its workers to the Czech Republic due to complicated issuance of work visas at the Czech Embassy in Hanoi. Chairman of the Czech-Vietnamese Society Marcel Winter said applicants for work visas were encountering a number of problems. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek said earlier this year that the Czech Republic and Vietnam were planning to create an expert group to settle the problem with the issuance of visas. More than 10,000 Vietnamese citizens came to work to the country in the first six months of this year.
Czech police on Tuesday arrested a dangerous paedophile from Britain, who is suspected of abusing underage girls, daily Právo reported. The 21-year old man is suspected of 16 criminal offences, including rape and making child pornography and faces life imprisonment in Britain. International warrant for his arrest was issued only three weeks ago. According to the police, it is unlikely that he committed any crime in the Czech Republic. The man has been taken to preliminary custody and is awaiting extradition to Britain.
The government’s overhaul of the country’s public services took another step forward on Thursday, when the Senate approved key pension and health insurance reforms. The pension bill will raise the age of retirement to 65 years for men and women by 2030, from around 62 and 59 now. It will also extend the minimum required working period to 35 years, from 25. The health insurance bill is aimed at cutting one of Europe’s highest absentee rates by drastically cutting sick pay for the first three days of illness.
It has been revealed that Polish President Lech Kaczyinski will pay a working visit to Prague next week. The details of the visit are not yet known, but the Polish head-of-state is likely to meet with Czech President Václav Klaus in Lány to discuss a number of key issues, including the future of the European Union and the stalled Lisbon Treaty. After meeting with French President Nicholas Sarkozy recently, there are indications Mr Kaczyinski may try to persuade the Czech president to change his stance towards EU reform. Václav Klaus has repeatedly expressed a negative position on the Lisbon Treaty, especially after its rejection by Irish voters in a recent referendum. The treaty is aimed at reforming the functioning of the 27-member union. The Czech Republic will take up the EU’s rotating six-month presidency on January 1.
The surging Czech crown set a new record of 22.999 crowns to the euro on Friday as the currency continued to be sought as a refuge from weakening equities, also reaching a new record of 14.50 crowns to the US dollar, due to the same type of speculative buying an analyst for Patria Finance told AFP. According to sources, the crown could stabilise at around the 23 crowns to the euro. Czech exporters have warned that the continuing rise of the crown will undermine the economy's still solid growth but recent trade figures have suggested that sales abroad are still bearing up.
Police have confirmed a shooting in the popular Brno shopping centre “Vaňkovka” which left two people – one man, one woman - dead on Friday. The shooting took place in a café on shopping centre premises: witnesses said the two – now known to have been a married couple - had been sitting at one table, when he drew a gun and shot her, then himself. Emergency services were at the scene within minutes, but were unable revive the victim; her assailant died instantly. Both the assailant and the victim are estimated to have been in their early 60s; their identities, while known, have not yet been confirmed. Police suspect the man committed the murder/suicide after arguing with his wife over divorce proceedings.
A proposal to open the path for direct presidential elections, submitted by independent senator Jan Horník, has passed in a first reading in the upper house. All but two senators present voted for Mr Horník's proposal. The issue will further be debated by senate committees in the autumn. The government bill on direct presidential elections is being worked out at the initiative of the Greens but so far the three coalition parties are not united in proposed changes. While the Christian Democrats want to preserve current presidential powers, the Civic Democrats are said to be in favour of extending them. Public surveys have repeatedly suggested that many among the public are in favour of changing the system. Currently, the country’s president is elected in a special joint session of both houses of parliament.
Czech Ambassador to NATO Stefan Fuele told reporters after visiting the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center (MDIOC) at the Schriever air force base, Colorado Springs, on Thursday that it is likely the Czech Republic will have its own representative at the site in connection with a planned US radar base on Czech soil. Mr Fuele visited the site along with Czech Defence Minister Vlasta Parkánová and the army chief-of-staff Vlastimil Picek. The US centre is to assess information on the radar base to be built roughly 70 kilometres southwest of the Czech capital. The centre's employees are said to be testing model simulations of the missile defence system; Mr Fuele made clear it was in Czech interest to have a representative on site. The US radar base in the Czech Republic is aimed to complement a missile base in Poland as part of the US defence shield.
A verdict fro earlier this year acquitting former government official Zdeněk Doležal of attempted fraud in connection with the sale of the Unipetrol petrochemical company, has been annulled by the Prague high court. An official made the announcement on Friday. The decision means the municipal court will have to again deal with the case. Mr Doležal was suspected of asking for a 5-million-crown bribe from a Polish lobbyist in 2005 in connection with Unipetrol’s privatisation. Several of their meetings were recorded by a hidden TV camera. The earlier acquittal was based on the grounds that money was never actually mentioned in the recordings and that the TV material was poor quality and had been edited. Mr Doležal was thought to have used coded language to ask for the bribe, asking for “five on the table” – a possible veiled reference to 5 million crowns.
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