Pavel Nedved will return to help the Czech Republic in this month's World Cup playoff against Norway after a 16-month absence, coach Karel Brueckner said on Thursday. The Juventus midfielder is in the squad for the first time since retiring from international football after the Czechs lost to eventual champions Greece in the Euro 2004 semi-finals. The former European Footballer of the Year hurt his knee in that semi-final with Greece and said he no longer wanted to play for his country because of the toll it was taking on his body. But in recent weeks the 33-year-old let it be known he would consider a return to the squad for the playoff.
The US software giant Microsoft and the Czech government agency CzechInvest plan to open an innovations centre in the Czech Republic at the end of the year, Microsoft vice-president Neil Holloway said on Thursday. The centre should help Czech university graduates improve their skills, assist new software companies in starting business and develop new programmes on the Microsoft platform. According to Mr Holloway, Czech universities and independent software producers should take part in the project, too. The head of strategic products at CzechInvest Tomas Bohrn said the main goal of the centre would be to attract strategic projects in the development of software and microelectronics to the Czech Republic.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has agreed to name David Rath the new health minister on Friday. This ends a battle between the President's Office and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who failed to persuade the president to appoint Mr Rath a fortnight ago. At the time, Mr Rath headed a professional chamber representing doctors and President Klaus feared it could lead to a conflict of interest. Mr Rath gave up the post on Wednesday.
The minimum wage in the Czech Republic will be increased by 6.6 percent as of next January, a spokesperson for the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said on Thursday. The ministry plans further increases in July when the minimum wage is to grow by another 6.2 percent, according to a government proposal. The minimum monthly wage will be 7,660 crowns (or 311 US dollars), compared to the current 7,185 crowns. The minimum hourly pay is to grow to 45.20 crowns (or just under two US dollars). After the second increase, the minimum wage is to reach the equivalent of 330 dollars.
According to a poll by the CVVM agency, seventy-one percent of Czechs trust President Vaclav Klaus. The findings confirmed the results of a poll by the private STEM polling agency, suggesting Mr Klaus's performance as president was positively assessed by 72 percent of respondents in October. The CVVM poll revealed that the Senate, the upper house of the Czech parliament, enjoys the least trust of respondents. The government is supported by 42 percent of respondents, the lower house by 26 percent and the Senate by 24 percent.
A group of environmentalists have been protesting against the practices of a tar and benzol processing plant in Moravia on top of its 100 metre high chimney. The four members of the Czech branch of Greenpeace mounted the chimney on Tuesday morning, accusing the plant's management of producing chemicals that are hazardous to our health. Equipped with a laptop and an internet connection, the group managed to collect 1,500 electronic signatures supporting their cause within 24 hours. Fearing an intervention in the protest would result in injury, the police say they will detain the group when it descends the chimney.
Two out of every five Czechs believe that EU membership has affected their lives more than necessary, the results of an opinion poll suggest. The STEM agency, which conducted the poll says the number of Czechs with this opinion is growing. A growing number of Czechs also believe that ministers, deputies, and senators enjoy too much influence over the ordinary citizen and would like to see more of the power transferred to trade unions and the local authorities.
The Czech Interior Ministry says there are no secret CIA facilities holding members of the Al-Qaeda terrorist group in the Czech Republic. Wednesday's edition of The Washington Post reports that the CIA's most important Al-Qaeda captives are questioned and held at a Soviet-era compound in Eastern Europe. The Czech Interior Minister, Frantisek Bublan, says the Czech Republic is not the country in question. He added that one month ago, Prague declined a request from the US government to consider granting asylum to Guantanamo Bay detainees who were not linked to the Al-Qaeda and face persecution in their home countries.
Germany will most likely make use of the full seven years that it is entitled to restrict the movement of labour from the new EU member states. The Governor of the German state of Saxony, Georg Milbradt, told journalists in Prague on Wednesday that Germany's high unemployment rate and its lack of a plan dealing with the differences in salaries make it difficult to shorten the transition period.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has agreed to name David Rath the new health minister on Friday. This ends a battle between Prague Castle and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, who failed to persuade the president to appoint Mr Rath a fortnight ago. At the time, Mr Rath headed a professional chamber representing doctors and President Klaus feared it could lead to a conflict of interest. Mr Rath gave up the post on Wednesday.