The Czech Government will approach power utility CEZ on the sale of the state's majority stake in the North Bohemian coal mines Severoceske Doly. After last year's failed privatisation attempt, the cabinet decided on Wednesday to hold talks with CEZ exclusively. The company, which is one of the biggest in the country, already controls 13 brown coal mines, one black coal mine, two nuclear power plants and dozens of hydropower plants. It will have 90 days to present its proposed purchase price, which economists expect will range from 8 to 10 billion Czech crowns (an estimated 350-440 million US dollars).
The Czech government has approved a bill that sees regulated rent rise dramatically as of October next year. In the bill, proposed by the ministry for regional development, rent is to be raised annually by an average of 9.3%. After a period of six years, in 2012, it will be left up to the flat owner and the tenant to come to an agreement over the future rent. If that should fail, a court will make the decision. An estimated 750,000 flats are rent-controlled in the Czech Republic.
The European Union's executive commission has warned it would take legal action against the Czech Republic for failing to implement EU copyright law. Along with France, Spain, and Finland, it was supposed to implement the law before December 22, 2002 in order to provide an adequate level of copyright protection for authors and other right-holders in the digital environment. This is the commission's first warning.
Slovakia's Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda said on Wednesday Slovakia will
not back a plan by his Czech counterpart Jiri Paroubek to make a
reconciliatory gesture to anti-fascist Sudeten Germans. Mr Paroubek
announced on Monday that he had prepared a plan to compensate ethnic
Germans in Czechoslovakia who were expelled and lost their property in the
years following the Second World War, despite the fact that they opposed
Nazi Germany. Mr Dzurinda says Slovakia looks to the future and not to the
past and will not re-open complicated chapters in the countries history,
such as the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsions in the post-war
On the home front, the Prime Minister's plan has met with anger from the two main opposition parties, the centre-right Civic Democrats and the Communists. President Vaclav Klaus has likewise rejected the idea, describing it as potentially dangerous.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek's plan for a reconciliation gesture towards Sudeten German anti-fascists who were expelled from the country after WWII has evoked a lukewarm response among Sudeten German expellees. Representatives of the Sudeten German Landsmanshaft said it was not yet clear what form the gesture would take or even whether it would ever materialize. Others said that such a gesture should be directed to all expellees, not just anti-fascists. On the home front, the Prime Minister's plan has met with anger from the two main opposition parties, the right wing Civic Democrats and the Communists.
The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said he wants to speed up the renewal of the government's outdated fleet of planes. Mr. Paroubek made the announcement shortly after yet another defect caused a Czech government plane carrying the foreign minister Cyril Svoboda on a foreign trip to Latin America to make an unscheduled one day stop-over in Mauritania. Technical defects of this kind have been frequent in recent months. The Prime Minister said he thought government officials should use the services of Czech Airlines until the end of the year by which time the military could lease new planes.
The Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova has publicly apologized to private TV NOVA for implying that it had been bribed to air a damaging news report about her. Mrs. Benesova came under fire after failing to back up her claim and her position as Supreme State Attorney remains shaky. Although Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek resisted pressure to dismiss her outright, he asked her to apologize to the television station and show greater prudence in future. He said that Mrs. Benesova's honesty and dedication made her hard to replace, but that the government coalition would seek a successor.
One Czech remains unaccounted for in the wake of the London bombings last Thursday. The Foreign Ministry said it had hopes that the missing person was alive and well since the chances of him having been near the sites of the tragedy were slim. Efforts to locate him continue. The other 27 Czechs who were in England at the time of the terrorist attacks have all contacted their families. A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry has told journalists that the Czech police and intelligence services are cooperating with the British authorities in the hunt for the terrorists. She did not specify in what way.
Eighty Czech soldiers have left for Prishtina, the capital of the south Serbian province of Kosovo, to begin the rotation of the Czech contingent in NATO's KFOR peacekeeping mission in the province. According to the Defence Ministry, the rotation of the 400-strong unit is to be completed on July 22. As of August 1, the Czech Republic will take over from Finland the command of the Centre multinational brigade in Kosovo for one year. The Centre brigade is overseeing one of the four zones in Kosovo supervised by the NATO KFOR mission. The Czech Republic has been participating in the Kosovo mission since 1999.
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