The Czech government expects to decide when to join the Euro in the autumn of this year, after hearing a Central Bank recommendation on what steps to take in the run-up to membership in the currency zone. The timing of euro entry is important for the Czech Republic's budget and monetary policies and for investors who have bet billions on rising asset prices and falling interest rates ahead of the country's adoption of the single currency. Out of all central European candidate countries for EU membership, the Czech Republic has been most hesitant on setting a definite date. Hungary and Slovakia target 2008, while Poland hopes to adopt the euro by the beginning of 2009 at the latest. Czech Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, has said 2010 was a realistic date, adding that a decision would be based on a joint proposal prepared by the Czech Central Bank and the ministries of Finance and Industry and Trade. The Czech Central Bank (CNB) has recommended the Czech Republic stay out of the EU's exchange rate mechanism for some time after EU entry next May, warning of the risks involved in linking the freely floating crown too closely to the euro.
Also during its session on Monday, the government rejected a bill against abortions that was submitted by nine opposition deputies. Under the bill, doctors who perform abortions can face up to five years in prison and can furthermore loose their medical licence. Any other person who advises or helps a woman undergo an abortion can also face up to a year in prison, while the woman herself will not be punished. Abortions are only granted in exceptional cases such as when they can save a woman's life, or when the pregnancy was a result of rape. The authors of the bill have said they did not expect it to be approved by the cabinet, nor by parliament, but hoped it would result in further discussion on the controversial issue. Statistics show that since the fall of Communism in 1989, the number of abortions has been decreasing significantly. While in 1990, some 100,000 were carried out, only a little under double that number were performed in the past five years.
President Vaclav Klaus has cancelled his plans for the upcoming days after coming down with tonsillitis. His spokesman, Tomas Klvana said on Monday that doctors have put Mr Klaus on antibiotics and have taken his blood for further testing. The sixty-two year old president is being treated at home. He was forced to cancel a few important events, such as the appointment of three new Constitutional Court judges, which was scheduled for Tuesday. Besides suffering from a few minor sports accidents, Mr Klaus has always enjoyed good health.
All victims of Nazism who were slave or forced labourers on Austrian territory during WWII have until the end of the year, instead of September 27, to ask to be compensated, the Austrian embassy in Prague said on Monday. In total, the Austrian government expects to pay out some 15.6 billion Czech crowns to all former slave labourers. Out of this sum, 1.3 billion Czech crowns have been reserved for Czech victims. Any amount of the reserved money that will not be paid out will be used for various health and social projects, allowing Czech former forced or slave labourers to undergo important medical treatment in Austria, for example.
Temperatures are expected to drop by a few degrees on Tuesday, reaching a maximum of 28 degrees Celsius. Heavy rain and even thunderstorms are expected throughout the country with sleet in parts of Moravia and Silesia.
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