Industry Minister Milan Urban is to ask the Cabinet for an additional 1.5 billion crowns to be set aside for the repair and construction of industrial zones and infrastructure near Ostrava, the proposed site of a new 1.2 billion dollar Hyundai car plant. The Cabinet has already earmarked 3.25 billion crowns in relation to the proposed venture of the South Korean carmaker. Hyundai reportedly wants a four-lane highway built from Ostrava to neighbouring Slovakia, where its affiliate Kia Motors has a factory. The South Korean investment has become a focal point for political debate over the Czech Republic's system of incentives for attracting foreign investment, with the main opposition Civic Democratic Party calling for a major reduction in incentives packages.
Two Dutch national detained in the Czech Republic on Saturday are under investigation for allegedly promoting racist ideology. The men were detained en route to a Neo-Nazi concert held in the Czech town of Zlata Olesnice, about 160 kilometres north of Prague. Police shut down the concert, which had been booked as a private birthday party, and was attended by some 140 skinheads and far-right extremists. Police made several arrests and seized clothing and electronic media promoting racist ideals. Along with the two Dutch nationals, at least one Czech will likely face charges of inciting racial hatred.
Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, on an official visit to Kosovo, met with President Ibrahim Rugova on Monday to discuss the future status of the province. The Czech prime minister extended an offer for Czech diplomats to help with negotiations between representatives in Pristina and Belgrade. On Sunday, Mr Paroubek made much the same offer in the Serbian capital. Mr Rugova said he could envision, for example, someone like former Czech president Vaclav Havel playing a role as mediator. Meanwhile, the Czech prime minister said any initiative will have to include the European Union. One of the goals of Mr Paroubek's four-day visit is to get a sense of opinions in Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo on the region's future; the Czech Republic is seeking to play a more dominant role in the region.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is predicting robust growth in the Czech Republic of percent 5 percent in the medium-term but has called for faster reforms in public financing. The EBRD said in its latest Transition Report (2005), the reforms should include the passage of a bankruptcy law, simplification of the tax system, greater transparency in public administration and tenders, towards reducing corruption.
British investigators have revealed that Czech national Michal Pech had ingested cocaine before shooting his ex-girlfriend Clare Bernal dead this September. Mr Pech, a former security guard at the London boutique where Ms Bernal worked the perfume counter, had been under a restraining order after repeatedly threatening her. He turned the gun on himself after killing his ex-lover. A British pathologist said it could not be determined exactly when Mr Pech took the cocaine and to what degree he would have been influenced by the drug.
Former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman is writing a book on the recent history of the Social Democratic Party - which he plans to publish ahead of next year's parliamentary elections. Early this year, Mr Zeman published his memoirs, entitled, "The Mistakes I Made in Politics," in which he pulled few punches in judging other politicians; for example, labeling his onetime protégée Stanislav Gross an "ignoramus" with "no ideas of his own". Mr Zeman's often vulgar accounts of behind-the-scenes dealings were a hit with the general public. His next book, "The Rise and Fall of the Social Democrats," is to be a "political horror." He also plans a chapter on the way forward for the party of which he was long-time chairman, leading to speculation that Mr Zeman, who lost to Civic Democrat Vaclav Klaus in the presidential elections, plans a comeback.
Light freezing rain could give way to the first snowfall of winter in the coming days, with overnight lows of minus 4 degrees Celsius expected.
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