Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has said he will propose to the government to impose visa requirements on the citizens of Canada after he failed on Monday to convince the newly elected Conservative government in Ottawa to abolish visas for Czech tourists. Canada imposed visa requirements on Czech citizens in October 1997, following a wave of Roma arrivals who asked for political asylum in Canada. Prior to the talks Mr Svoboda said he was prepared to file a suit against Canada at the European Court of Justice if the meetings in Ottawa were not successful. As a member of the European Union, the Czech Republic can request that the EU impose visa requirements on Canadians.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who is on a visit to Croatia, has expressed support for Croatia's bid to join the European Union by 2009, a little over three years after the start of negotiations between Zagreb and Brussels. Mr Paroubek said that Croatia could become a full member of the EU at the beginning of 2009 during the Czech Republic's presidency of the Union. Prime Minister Paroubek also told reporters after a meeting with his Croatian counterpart Ivo Sanader that the Czech Republic supported Croatia's bid to join NATO. The two prime ministers also discussed boosting cooperation in trade. Mr Paroubek said that trade exchange between the two states amounts to 500 million dollars and that Croatia attracts an estimated 700,000 Czech tourists annually.
The safety board in the Hradec Kralove region has decided to declare the village of Libcany a hazardous zone after police discovered over 1000 types of hazardous contaminants on the grounds of a small chemical factory on Friday. According to regional governor Pavel Bradik, the measure will allow a special decontamination unit to continue disposing of the material. Three people have been arrested in connection with the case.
Officials from the German state of Saxony-Anhalt, bordering on the Czech Republic, are due to arrive in Prague on Tuesday to discuss the removal of tonnes of rubbish from an illegal dump in the village of Libceves in North Bohemia. The communal waste dumped in Libceves has been identified as imported from Saxony-Anhalt. The site has been set on fire three times since February and local mayor Vlasta Stankova says she is afraid that it can happen again if the waste is not removed immediately. However, the authorities from Saxony-Anhalt say not all of the garbage comes from the German federal state.
According to the Korea Times daily, the South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor has postponed the launching ceremony at its manufacturing facility in Nosovice in North Moravia, which has been set for May 17. The announcement followed the decision of its sister company Kia Motors last week to indefinitely postpone a similar event at its factory in the United States. Hyundai Automotive Group has suspended other official events indefinitely as prosecutors began questioning the group's chairman Chung Mong-koo on Monday. Hyundai has not officially notified the Czech authorities of the postponement.
The Hyundai plant in Nosovice is expected to produce 300,000 cars annually starting in 2008. The company is planning to invest up to 1.2 billion dollars in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic and Slovakia have the highest retail crime rate in the European Union, according to a survey by the British agency Centre for Retail Research. While the average shrinkage, or stock loss from crime or wastage, suffered by stores throughout Europe was 1.25 percent of turnover last year, the Czech Republic and Slovakia both suffered a loss of 1.4 percent of turnover. According to the agency, the overall value of goods stolen in the Czech Republic in 2005 was 13 billion crowns (542 million dollars). Losses from shoplifting amounted to 6 billion crowns, employees stole goods worth 4.2 billion and suppliers were responsible for losses of 750 million crowns.
A work by the Czech surrealist painter Jindrich Styrsky has sold for a record 8.6 million crowns (or 360,000 dollars). The painting is entitled "Cirkus Simonette" and it was auctioned off at an exclusive art auction at Prague's Hilton Hotel on Sunday. The owner of Gallery Art Praha says that over 65 percent of the 420 works being auctioned were sold, and collectors spent a record amount on paintings.
Terezin, the site of a WWII concentration camp, is hosting a 2-day seminar about the Holocaust for European ministers of education. The aim of the international seminar is to discuss how to teach young generations about the Holocaust. In addition to the European ministers of education attending the seminar, observers from Israel, Canada, Mexico, Japan and the United States will be in attendance.
According to a poll by the SC&C agency, every third Czech has admitted to having paid a bribe in the past. The poll conducted on 3166 people suggests that men over 45 with secondary or university education pay bribes most frequently and are also the most frequent target of bribery. Sixty-four percent of the polled said they had never paid a bribe. The Czech Republic shared 47th to 50th position with Greece, Slovakia and Namibia in last year's Transparency International table of corruption perception.
The next few days should be mostly sunny with scattered showers and daytime temperatures between 19 and 22 degrees Celsius.
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