The Czech government has decided to offer the state's 51.1 percent stake in Czech Telecom to telecommunication companies and the consortia they form with financial investors. Following a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Martin Jahn said a timetable has also been approved. If all goes according to schedule, preliminary bids will be submitted in the first week of February so that selected investors can present their binding bids in March. The cabinet hopes to choose a winner of the public tender by March 31.
The Czech Culture Minister, Pavel Dostal, has decided to start ten-week intensive chemotherapy, a ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday. Mr Dostal has been suffering from high fevers and has caught pneumonia since a cancerous tumour was removed from his pancreas in September. After a thorough medical check-up at Prague's main Military Hospital on Wednesday, he was advised to undergo chemotherapy immediately to avoid a relapse.
In the Czech Republic's evaluation of the EU's Lisbon Strategy, Czechs urge the European Union to do more to boost its economical development. The Lisbon Strategy was adopted by the European Council in March 2000. It is a ten-year plan to turn the European Union into the world's most dynamic and competitive economy. In the Czech Republic's evaluation, which was approved by the cabinet on Wednesday, economists warn of too much concentration on social and environmental renewal and too little focus on EU budget priorities and various outstanding economic barriers.
Jan Nadvornik has filed an appeal with the Constitutional Court over the invalidation of the Senate elections in the Prague 11 constituency. Last week the court invalidated the elections on the grounds that the election campaign had been conducted in a dishonest manner, in violation of the election law. This was in relation to a number of slanderous articles against the unsuccessful candidate which were published in the local papers. Jan Nadvornik who won the elections, has protested against the verdict, saying that he was in no way responsible for what the local papers had printed.
Arms imports to the Czech Republic have increased nearly fourfold in the past decade. A report, published on Tuesday, says that until 1989 Czech arms exports exceeded imports, but the situation changed radically in the 1990s. Last year the Czech Republic imported over 2,500 revolvers and pistols from Bulgaria, Austria and Ukraine and various types of rifles from Germany, the Netherlands and Russia. About a thousand sub-machine guns were imported from Belgium and Switzerland.
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski has called on Ukraine to focus on
the new presidential election and to put other problems such as the
resignation of the government and constitutional reforms on the back
burner. Speaking during an official visit to Prague, where he arrived just
hours after mediating talks in crisis-hit Ukraine, Mr Kwasniewski said the
election was the key to unlocking the situation in the country.
The political crisis in Ukraine was one of the main topics of debate with leading Czech officials during President Kwasniewski's one day visit to the Czech Republic. The two countries have traditionally good relations and cooperate closely within the Visegrad Group, a lose alliance of central European states. At Prague Castle President Kwasniewski was decorated with the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czech state distinction.
A state attorney has charged the former ultra right republican leader Miroslav Sladek with damaging creditors. During his years in office, Sladek indebted the party heavily, although according to the police, he must have known that the party would be unable to meet its obligations. It now owes more than 40 million crowns. If found guilty, Sladek could face up to 5 years in prison.
The well known Czech folk singer and song writer Zuzana Navarova has died at the age of 45. She entered the Czech music scene in 1980, when she set up the folk group Nerez. Fascinated by Latin American music and culture, she studied Spanish and paid frequent visits to that part of the world. Navarova had a devoted audience here in the Czech Republic. She regularly toured the country and has several CDs to her name. In recent years she performed with the group Koa with whom she recorded the popular CD All colours, which won her the 2001 Angel award for folk music from the Czech Music Academy.
The first 90 members of a new Czech and Slovak contingent have left Prague for the southern Serbian province of Kosovo to replace the members of the battalion who have served in the province since May. A special unit trained to suppress demonstrations will also operate in Kosovo. The new contingent will stay in the Balkans till July. It will guard a section of the provincial Kosovo-Serb border.
The Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has met the Czech Republic's EU Commissioner, Vladimir Spidla in Prague to discuss above all the European social policy and the Lisbon Strategy - the European Union's action and development plan. Mr Spidla, who was Mr Gross's predecessor in the post of prime minister and head of the ruling Social Democratic Party, refused to comment whether the current situation in the party, which is losing public support, was also discussed.