US President Barack Obama aims to make a keynote European speech during a two-day visit to Prague that begins on April 4, according to press reports. He is preparing to make the Czech capital the venue for his “European speech of the year,” Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek told reporters. During his brief visit, President Obama will also attend a short EU environment summit covering climate change, the Czech Environment Ministry said. One issue still to be settled is the backdrop for the set-piece speech. Presidential aides are said to be considering an open air venue, possibly Old Town Square, or in front of the Rudolfinum rather than Prague Castle.
Czech police carried out checks on foreign workers at sites throughout the country on Tuesday. The step was aimed not only at detaining illegal workers but also informing foreign workers about the government’s recently introduced crisis measure encouraging them to return home. Police handed out leaflets in seven languages detailing the offer of a free plane ticket and 500 euros.
The Ministry for Regional Development has warned that 40,000 households could face severe problems when rent regulation ends in 2010. Two thousand households could be thrown out on the street as a result, it adds. Local authorities are now facing growing demand for social housing from the elderly, disabled, unemployed and low paid. The ministry is looking at ways of boosting the construction of cheap, social housing.
Models in snow boots and skimpy fur costumes unveiled Škoda Auto’s new car, the Yeti, at the Geneva auto show on Tuesday. Škoda has speeded up the launch of the sports utility vehicle to help counter the crisis and worldwide slump in car sales. Sales are set to begin in the summer but the company has not yet put a price tag on the new car.
A proposal allowing businesses to write off Value Added Tax for all new cars purchased was passed by the lower house of Parliament. The move forms part of the government’s raft of measures aimed at tackling the financial crisis. Proposals by the opposition and dissident members of the main government party, the Civic Democrats, to cut existing VAT levels and incentives for scrapping old cars were defeated.
The Czech Constitutional Court rejected on Monday a complaint by a Romany
woman who underwent forced sterilization in an Ostrava hospital in 1997.
Iveta Červeňáková, who was 21 at the time, complained about a decision
by the police to shelve a criminal case against two of the hospital’s
physicians. The Court said none of her constitutional rights were
by that decision.
Ms Červeňáková was sterilized in the Ostrava Municipal Hospital in 1997, after giving birth to her second child. A local court awarded her 500,000 crowns, or more than 22,000 US dollars, in damages, but a higher court said last year her claim was covered by the statute of limitations.
Around 500 workers from the troubled glass giant Bohemia Crystalex Trading
gathered outside the government building in Prague on Monday to draw
attention to their social situation. They also protested against the
government’s lack of action when dealing with the impact of the
company’s bankruptcy. The protesters asked the government to allow for
extraordinary social benefits; they also demanded a change in the law that
would not give priority to banks over the company’s own employees when
settling corporate debts.
Bohemia Crystalex Trading was the country’s largest manufacturer of glass with around 7,000 employees. In September last year, it declared bankruptcy and closed most of its plants.
An analysis by Bank of America predicts that the Czech economy will drop by 1.7 percent in 2009. According to the analysis, economies of central and eastern European countries will be affected by a falling demand from their western neighbours. Economic growth in the region will be also be hindered by problems of local banks and reduced levels of foreign investment. In 2008, the growth of Czech GDP slowed down to 3.5 percent.
The funeral of Jan Winkler, who was Czech ambassador to the UK, took place in Prague on Monday. Mr Winkler died suddenly on February 16, aged 51. A spokesperson for the Czech Foreign Ministry said that the Czech Republic had lost one of its most capable diplomats. Mr Winkler died of natural causes. Mr Winkler became Czech Ambassador to Britain in 2005 after serving at the Foreign Ministry in Prague between 2003 and 2005.
The head of Czech doctors’ association, Milan Kubek, said that female physicians performed worse than male doctors. Speaking before the health committee of Parliament’s lower house, Mr Kubek said that “feminization” was the second biggest cause behind the crisis of the Czech health care system, followed by the increasing age of Czech doctors and their retirement. Mr Kubek said that female physicians’ work commitment was lower than men’s due to their family duties. Several female doctors among MPs as well as other physicians criticized Mr Kubek’s statement, while some other Czech physicians told the daily Mladá fronta Dnes that the doctors’ leader did have a point. The Czech Republic has one of the highest numbers of female doctors of all OECD countries, with 52.7 percent female physicians.
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