The Czech Republic's state-run utility company CEZ signed a contract with the Bulgarian government for the privatisation of the electricity distribution network in the capital Sofia and two other regions of the country. Under terms agreed in July, CEZ will pay 281.5 million euros for a 67-percent stake in the electricity distributor. The company has agreed not to resell or restructure any of its shares until the end of 2008.
The Czech Republic may assist in the creation of a future urban plan of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said after a meeting with Baghdad's regional governor Ali Haidari. Mr Svoboda said the project was ready and it was now up the Iraqi authorities to choose between a Czech and Japanese project. Minister Svoboda pointed out that the entire realisation of the project was connected to the reinforcement of the security situation.
The deputy head of the Social Democrats Zdenek Skromach has announced he will challenge the acting head of the party, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, for the chairmanship of the Social Democrats at the party's congress next March. The heads of the party's regional branches have welcomed the announcement of Mr Skromach's candidacy, but some of them said they supported Stanislav Gross. According to the daily Lidove noviny, Mr Skromach's bid is being backed by the former prime minister, now retired politician Milos Zeman. The daily also writes that if elected chairman, Mr Skromach would aim for a minority government with support across the political spectrum, including the Communist Party. Mr Skromach is expected to unveil further plans on his bid this weekend.
The Prague Stock Exchange exceeded its starting level of 1,000 points for the first time in 10 years on Friday. The deputy head of the stock exchange Vladimir Ezr said there has been growing interest in the Prague Stock Exchange from both foreign and national investors since the country joined the EU. He added that higher interest in shares of major companies that were facing privatisation, such as the dominant telecom company Cesky Telecom and the power company CEZ and, had further boosted the exchange. The Prague Stock Exchange was launched in April 1993, three months after Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but the PX50 index with a starting value of 1,000 points was not launched until exactly one year later.
After renewing a hamstring injury in the Czech Republic's bout against
Macedonia, it appears Liverpool's Czech striker Milan Baros will be out
of action for about one month. That leaves Liverpool currently without
its two top guns: Djibril Cisse was sidelined in October with a
horrific leg break.
Milan Baros' renewed injury comes after a storybook appearance against Crystal Palace in the Premier league: the striker secured a hat-trick to help his side win 3:2, the first hat-trick scored by a Czech in the Premiership's history.
President Vaclav Klaus has signed a bill officially ending compulsory military service in the Czech Republic as of January 1st, 2005, paving the way for a fully professional military. The decision ends a 140-year-long tradition in the Czech lands. As of 2005 all new soldiers will enter the army on a voluntary basis only, and mandatory service would only be declared during a dire threat to the country or in cases of war. With professionalisation the number of Czech military personnel will decrease from 44,000 to 35,000; of that number some 26,000 are soldiers, while a little under 9,000 are civilian employees.
European Parliament has approved a new team of EU commissioners who were
put forward by president of the Commission Jose Manuel Barroso. The vote
passed on Thursday by 449 to 149, while 82 abstained. The revised
Commission, which saw the departure of earlier nominees from Italy and
Latvia, includes former Czech prime minister Vladimir Spidla, who will be
in charge of the Social Affairs portfolio.
Among Czechs in the European Parliament the new Commission received approval from Social Democrat, Christian Democrat/European Democrat MEPs: Communist MEPs, and former television magnate Vladimir Zelezny voted against.
Following the Czech Republic's 2:0 defeat of Macedonia in the team's
final World Cup qualifier this year, football coach Karel Bruckner
hinted Wednesday he has not given up on the possibility of midfeilder
Pavel Nedved returning to the national side.
The former team captain, who was dogged by injury after Euro 2004, announced his - apparently definite - retirement from the national side in late September.
However, Mr Bruckner has now indicated he would at some point still like to meet with Mr Nedved to discuss the matter, saying it was his duty as coach to do so as long as Nedved was healthy. Still, the national side coach pointed out it was early days yet, saying arrangements had not yet even begun to be organised for the two men to meet.
Wreathes were laid on Wednesday at a memorial to Jan Opletal, a medical student who died on November 17, 1939. A procession to his grave in 1989 on International Students Day turned into the first demonstration of the Velvet Revolution, when students broke away from the authorized route and marched into the centre of Prague.
Meanwhile, the student demonstration which sparked the changes of 1989
was reenacted in the Czech capital, beginning at Albertov and
continuing to Narodni and later to Wenceslas Square. The march was
entitled "Podzim bez komunistu" ("Autumn without Communists"), in
protest at the present-day Communist Party.
On Wednesday evening a huge free concert called "Narodni Jinak" ("Narodni Otherwise") was held on the city centre street.