Czechs began voting in the election to the European Parliament on Friday, the first of two days of the polls are held in the Czech Republic. Fifteen thousand polling stations around the country are open from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. Thirty-two parties are fielding candidates for the Czech Republic’s 22 seats at the European Parliament. The leaders of the two strongest parties, Mirek Topolánek and Jiří Paroubek, as well as former president Václav Havel have already cast their ballots. The current president Václav Klaus is going to vote on Saturday. The counting of votes begins at 10 p.m. on Sunday, after the final polls have closed elsewhere in Europe. In the last European elections in 2004 turnout in the Czech Republic was 28 percent; some forecasters expect a slightly higher turnout this time.
Contrary to previous comments, former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has admitted that he appears in one of the photos taken at the summer home of the Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi last year. The picture shows a naked man with a blurred face and a white wristband of the kind Mr Topolánek wore at the time. The former Czech prime minister said however that the photograph had been tampered with.
Some 700 paparazzi pictures showing Mr Berlusconi and his guests at the his summer home were confiscated by the Italian authorities but the Spanish daily El País printed some of them on Friday. Mr Topolánek accused “European socialists” of being behind what he called a “brutal intrusion” into his privacy, and printing the photos on the first day of the elections to the European Parliament.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout and his Austrian counterpart Martin Spindelegger agreed in Vienna on Friday that the Czech Republic and Austria are ready to cooperate in diplomatic and consular services. In countries with only the Czech or Austrian embassy, citizens of the other country should be able to use the services of that embassy. The Czech and Austrian foreign ministers also talked about the Lisbon treaty, the Beneš decrees and the issue of the Temelín nuclear power plant. They agreed that such meeting should be held every six months; the next one is scheduled for September.
The Czech prime minister, Jan Fischer, will meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on Friday, June 12. The main point on the agenda is the preparation of an EU summit scheduled for later this month. The trip is part of Mr Fischer’s European tour which will start in Berlin on Tuesday.
Czech President Václav Klaus has warned against state interventions into the economy. Speaking at a conference on economic transformation of central and eastern European countries in Warsaw on Friday, Mr Klaus said any tendency to regulate the market must be resisted. He said these interventions would not solve the economic crisis but instead “ruin the future of the whole world”. The Czech president believes that the current economic crisis was the result of many years of politicians manipulating the market.
The owner of the Brno-based tractor maker Zetor has filed a lawsuit against the Czech Republic demanding compensation of 830 million crowns, or more than 43 million US dollars, for alleged errors in the company’s privatisation. The daily E15 reported on Friday that the lawsuit was filed last week. The owner of Zetor – the Slovak company HTC Holding – bought the tractor producer in 2002 for 310 million crowns, or over 16 million US dollars. The tractor maker soon plunged into the red, and one thirds of its employees were let go. In 2007, however, Zetor registered a profit of 240 million crowns.
A team of Czech scientists have discovered a substance that they say slows ageing. Scientists from the Czech Academy of Sciences and Palacký University in Olomouc told reporters on Friday that the new drug was based on vegetable hormones. The substance is said to be effective against rough skin, wrinkles and pigmentation disorders and also heals erysipelas and acne. Both institutions together with the US cosmetics firm Senetek PLC have applied for patent protection. The company will produce the drug under a licence agreement in the United States; in the Czech Republic, the new drug should be available within a year
Football manager Ivan Hašek officially announced on Friday his bid to become the new head of the Czech football association. The widely respected coach spent last two seasons with Al-Ahli in the United Arab Emirates after coaching in Japan and France; he also ran for the post four years ago but was not elected. Some football experts believe Hašek, who is 45, might restore the reputation of the Czech FA, damaged by corruption scandals and poor performance of the national team. An election to the post will be held later this month; the only other candidate is Luděk Vinš, the head of the Prague club Viktoria Žižkov.
The Czech national football team beat Malta 1:0 in a friendly game in Jablonec on Friday. It was the Czech squad’s first match under the new coach František Straka who was appointed last month. The new manager selected many newcomers into the team, including both goalkeepers. The Czechs were better throughout much of the game but the Maltese had several good opportunities as well. Tomáš Necid, of CSKA Moscow, scored the winning goal in the 79th minute. It’s not clear whether the new coach will be kept on for the remainder of the World Cup qualifier; the Czech Republic is currently ranking 4th with eight points in the 3rd qualification group.
A rainy weekend is ahead of us, with highest day temperatures ranging between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.
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