Daily news summary News

12-05-2006

Defence Minister praises soldiers back from Afghanistan

Defence Minister Karel Kuenhl has praised work by members of the military recently back from missions in Afghanistan. On Friday the minister awarded military decorations to members of units in Prostejov and Bechyne: members of a sapper unit serving at the international airport in Kabul, and a reconnaissance and information-gathering unit serving in the north-east of the country monitoring local developments. Minister Kuenhl said that the soldiers had contributed to increased stability in Afghanistan, and praised them for operating successfully under difficult and often dangerous conditions. The Czechs served for roughly six months under the international ISAF mission.

Social Democrats call on deputies to support labour code

The Social Democratic Party has called on deputies in Parliament to support a government draft bill to the labour code, vetoed earlier this week by President Vaclav Klaus. The bill needs a majority 101 votes in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies to pass in an upcoming vote. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek reacted to the president's veto by saying his party's MPs were ready to override the decision, but it is clear that he will need to find support elsewhere if the bill is to pass.

The right-of-centre Civic Democrats have already voiced opposition, while Josef Janecek - deputy chairman of Parliament's social policy committee - said that his party, the Christian Democrats, will again vote against the code.

The first time the bill passed it was with support from Social Democrat and Communist MPs.

Svoboda to again raise visa issue during visit to US

According to the Foreign Ministry, the Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda is planning on again raising the issue of visa requirements for Czech citizens visiting the US, during an upcoming visit to Washington. The minister will discuss the issue when he meets with US Senate foreign committee chairman Chuck Hagel next week. In recent months, Czech politicians have criticised asymmetric conditions requiring Czechs to have visas to travel to the United States, while Americans do not need the same to visit the Czech Republic.

Despite well-publicised objection by the foreign minister, Washington has not indicated a desire to waive visa requirements for Czech visitors at this time.

Hyundai management approves Nosivice investment

The top management of South Korean automobile manufacturer, Hyundai, has officially approved the company's investment in a new manufacturing plant in Nosovice, Moravia, in the Czech Republic. The company has agreed to invest an initial 743 million euros - with that amount going up to roughly 1 billion eventually. The numbers cited by the company's top executives mirror estimates by the state agency CzechInvest. Hyundai's plant in Moravia is expected to be operational by 2008.

President vetoes bill on cinematography fund

President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill on the state fund for Czech cinematography that would have seen the film industry receive public funds: namely, percentages from theatre ticket (2 percent), video, and DVD sales (3 percent) as well as profits from advertising on public television (3 percent). Mr Klaus reportedly objected to the bill on the grounds that other branches in the arts - whether the Czech music business, fine arts, literature, or theatre - benefited from no such legislation. Mr Klaus said that there was no reason why those in the film business should have such a privilege over those in comparable fields.

President signs bill on accident insurance into law

The obligation to pay compensation for work-related accidents will be transferred from commercial insurance companies to the state, namely the Czech Social Insurance Administration, under a new law signed by the Czech president on Friday.

Until now, employers have paid accident insurance to one of two insurance companies set down by the Labour Code: the Kooperativa and Ceska pojistovna companies. But, the situation was criticised by the European Union, which proposed two solutions: either to include all insurance companies in the system, or to transfer the insurance - as the new bill does - to the state.

Sculptor Opocensky released from prison

The sculptor Pavel Opocensky has been released from prison after serving three years in prison - roughly half of his sentence. Mr Opocensky was found guilty of sexually abusing teenage girls, but was released early for good behaviour; he will, however, remain on probation for four years. Speaking to the judge who ruled in favour of his release, Opocensky said on Thursday that he had learned from his mistakes and that he had no desire to return behind bars.

"Czech Days in China" underway

The state agency CzechTourism has kicked-off an event titled as "Czech Days in China" in China, aimed at attracting tourists from that country to the Czech Republic. The "Czech Days" event - funded from EU structural funds - will last until June 25th. The agency has described the event as a 'road show' highlighting the Czech services industry, presenting Czech regions and professional associations.

CzechTourism initially began keeping track of Chinese statistics last year. While Chinese visits formed just 0.3 percent of the overall number of visitors to the Czech Republic in 2005 (roughly 18,000 visitors out of 6.4 million), experts point to China's enormous potential. By some estimates in fifteen years 100 million Chinese will have the necessary funds to travel to Europe.

Ice Hockey World Championship: Czech Rep 3 - 1 Norway

The Czech Republic has won its first match in the qualifying round at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Riga, Latvia. Norway took an early one goal lead in the first period but the Czechs came back in the 2nd on a goal from Jan Hlavac, while Jaroslav Balastik got the winner in the third. Petr Tenkrat scored a final goal for the Czechs late in the third to secure the win. The Czechs next face Canada on Sunday.

Tennis legend Navratilova out of Prague Open

Czech-born tennis legend Martina Navratilova has been knocked out of the Prague Open. Navratilova and doubles partner Barbora Strycova were beaten in the quarter finals by Americans Ashley Harkleroad and Bethanie Mattek. Navratilova, who is 49, and is a former World No. 1 as well as nine-time Wimbledon champion, emigrated from her native Czechoslovakia in the mid 1970s. Her appearance in this year's Open was the first time she took part in competition in Prague since 1986.

Weather

Sunny weather is expected into the weekend with daytime temperatures reaching comfortable highs of around 24 degrees Celsius. Sunday, by contrast, could be a little overcast with some sunny intervals, but highs will drop to around 17 degrees.

12-05-2006