The ministers of agriculture of the EU member states have approved an extension for the support currently being provided to milk producers. The European Commission will continue to purchase butter and dried milk that EU dairy farmers are unable to sell until the end of February 2010. The original program allowed the programme to run from March to August of 2009. The current low price of milk has caused a major problem for dairy farmers across the EU, and Czech farmers, among others, have held protests and blockaded traffic in recent months to protest a lack of aid. The Czech Agrarian Chamber has warned that 2,000 face unemployment and 20.000 cows could be slaughtered if the price of milk is not increased in the coming months.
Over 4,000 cases of bankruptcy were filed in the first half of 2009, nearly 58% more than during the same period of last year. According to the credit management company Creditreform, which released the information, a total of 891 cases of bankruptcy were filed in June alone, which is a record number for one month. The growth in bankruptcy cases is primarily among entrepreneurs, where the frequency of insolvency is up by 87%. Moreover, more than half of the entities filing for bankruptcy in the first half of the year had their cases dismissed for lack of property. Creditreform expects that by August of this year the number of bankruptcies filed will have reached the same number as for the whole of 2008.
The Czech Republic and the Principality of Liechtenstein have agreed to normalise diplomatic relations for the first time in 17 years. The announcement was made Monday by Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Kohout. Mr Kohout said that the agreement would be accompanied by a memorandum proposing the creation of a commission of historians tasked with reviewing points of contention between the two countries. Until now, Liechtenstein has been the only country in the world not to recognise the Czech Republic, a situation caused by the confiscation of the Liechtenstein family’s numerous possessions in Czechoslovakia following WWII. Much of the dispute has centred on whether the famous noble family was or was not “German”, as per the post-war decrees under which their holdings in the country were seized. According to Prime Minister Fischer, the normalisation of diplomatic relations is not based upon any conditions or property concessions.
A 33-year-old Hradec Králové man was sentenced to 13.5 years Monday for the murder of his girlfriend. Martin Keleman confessed to having stabbed his 23-year-old partner in January of this year after an argument. Keleman faced up to 15 years for the murder, however the court reduced the sentence, taking into consideration his cooperation and regret.
A study by the agency truconneXion states that Czech employees spend one-fifth of the average 8.5 working hours on social networks or computer games. According to the study, the most popular application among office workers, used during working hours, is the Facebook social network, on which one million Czechs are reportedly registered. Other applications to which work-time is devoted are online strategy games and communications tools, such as Skype and ICQ. As companies in the Czech Republic aim to reduce costs due to the global economic crisis, several companies in the country have recently fired scores of employees for internet surfing and gaming, such as the vehicle manufacturer Tatra and the Ostrava Municipal Council.
The Czech Ministry of Interior is looking to introduce stricter measures to control foreigners who register businesses to gain long term residency in the country, according to Czech Television. Around 10,000 foreigners registered in this way between January and May. The ministry believes many of the businesses are only serving as a front for obtaining residency. It also suspects the mafia is involved in organising registration and demands up to 30,000 crowns for the service. The television report said tougher rules are likely to be sought after October elections.
The Belgian-Canadian film “Angel at Sea” won the prize for the best film at the 44th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday night. The film – which recounts the life of a 12-year-old boy with a manic depressive father – is the first feature length film of Belgian director Frédéric Dumont. The best actor award was shared by Olivier Gourmet, who played the father in the film, and American Paul Giamatti for his role in the film “Cold Souls.” Germany’s Andreas Dresen won the best director award for the film “Whisky and Vodka.” The best actress was Denmark’s Paprika Steen for her role in “Applause.” American actor, producer and director, John Malkovich, accepted a special prize for his lifetime contribution to cinema.
The Czech Republic has won a place in the Davis Dup semifinals after beating Argentina 3:2. In the decisive final match on Sunday Radek Štěpánek beat Juan Monaco in straight sets. The score was 7:6, 6:3, 6:2. Argentina came back in the first of the return singles when Tomáš Berdych lost in straight sets against the world number five, Juan Martin del Potro. The score was 4:6, 4:6, 4:6 with the result bringing the tie level at two apiece. Czech captain Jaroslav Navrátil opted to play injury recovering Radek Štěpánek in the last game against Juan Monaco rather than go with lower ranked Ivo Minář.
Around 400,000 Czechs are at risk from floods, according to the Czech Television programme “Václav Moravec Questions” on Sunday. Moves to straighten river flows and changes in agricultural use meant that excess water was not being held in the soil, the programme added. Environment Minister Ladislav Miko said on the programme that the current caretaker government expects to table an overall plan how to better deal with the flood risk before the end of September. He added that the cost of restoring rivers and streams so that they contain flood water was around 115 billion crowns. More than a dozen people were killed in flash floods at the end of June, mostly in northern Moravia and southern Bohemia.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said on Sunday that a fall in the number
of asylum applications by Czechs in Canada could help stave off the threat
that Ottawa will reintroduce visas. Mr Kohout said that applications had
fallen in recent weeks. “It is a very positive signal which Canada is
also taking into account,” he said in a tv interview on Sunday.
Canada is reported to be on the verge of reintroducing visa requirements for Czechs because of the surge in applications for asylum, largely from the Czech Roma community. While not ruling out a comeback for visas, Mr Kohout said it should not happen in the next days. He said other procedures such as electronic registration or stepped up airport controls could help avoid such a step. Mr Kohout added that he expected the EU to impose visas requirements on Canada in reply to any move against the Czech Republic. If this did not happen, Prague would lodge a complaint with the European Court of Justice for lack of solidarity, he said.
Czechs lodged 1,720 applications for asylum since the start of the year according to figures from the Canadian embassy in Prague. The newspaper Dnes reported on Saturday suggested that many Roma who left for Canada now wanted to return.
Forgotten Czech net bag makes a comeback
Iconic Czech brands that survived competition from the West after the fall of communism
Czechs and Germans in 1930s Czechoslovakia: a complex picture
Cold War “king of Šumava” story brought to life in new film by Irish director
Unions: Strike Wednesday will hit most Czech schools