On Tuesday the Canadian Embassy in Prague hinted at the fact that Ottawa will cancel visa requirements for one of the newest EU-member states, but it appears that country will not be the Czech Republic. Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Richard Krpac says that Canada is not currently engaged in visa-waiver talks with the Czech Republic, and some speculate that the country in question may be Poland. While Canadians do not need a visa to travel to the Czech Republic, Czechs are required to obtain a Canadian visa. The Czech Foreign Ministry has been working to undo this requirement for several years, and earlier this year Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda even suggested re-imposing visas on Canadians.
Vodafone, one of the three leading mobile phone operators in the Czech Republic, has introduced a new service for its company-based clients. Starting Tuesday, Vodafone is offering company subscribers access to e-mail, address books and electronic calendars, all via mobile phone services. The new Vodafone service is called Business E-Mail and faces competition from Blackberry offered by T-Mobile, and Office Connector, a service of Eurotel; both of the later have been on the market for more than a year. Vodafone registered 2.26 million clients in the Czech Republic in June, numbering over 11.5 million active mobile phone numbers.
Meanwhile, after heavy rainfalls earlier in the week, experts at the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute warn that flooding is expected to affect the central Bohemian region in the coming days. High-alert warnings have been issued for the River Jizera, which is expected to see the worst flooding in over five to ten years, and the River Elbe is also affected. The flood-watch warnings will be in effect until at least Thursday's morning hours, until which time experts expect water levels to continue rising. Continued rains are also expected in parts of Moravia and Silesia, and these should taper-off by mid-week.
Czech Airlines, or CSA, the country's national carrier, has begun down-sizing its staff. A plan to restructure the company during the years 2006 - 2008 is responsible for the policy, which aims to get Czech Airlines out of debt. According to CSA, the down-sizing plan will see the departure of approximately 20% of the company's employees, thus about 1100 people of the 5500 that CSA currently employs. In addition, CSA plans to sell two of its Boeing 737 fleet.
Farmers in the Vysocina region between Bohemia and Moravia are busy harvesting grain from fields in danger of flooding. The heavy rains are causing damage to grain and sugar beet crops, as well as to potatoes, which experts say will have an effect on the profits farmers could otherwise expect to yield. Over 145 000 hectares of land in the Vysocina region are devoted to grain crops, while potatoes occupy one-third of agricultural land in the region.
President Vaclav Klaus has invited the leaders of all five major Czech
political parties for talks at Prague Castle on Wednesday morning. Mr.
Klaus intends to discuss the current political stalemate with the heads of
the Civic Democratic Party, the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats,
the Communists and the Greens, all of whom are represented in the lower
house. Mr. Klaus plans to speak with each party leader in private before
holding a joint meeting with all to discuss possibilities for a way out of
the post-June election deadlock.
More than two months after the elections, the formation of a government remains unclear and MPs have repeatedly failed to elect a speaker of the lower house—a key step in forming the next government.
The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, says it is almost certain
that the USA will ask the Czech Republic to join its anti-missile
defence programme. Speaking on Czech TV on Sunday, Mr Svoboda said that
could involve the stationing of radars and the building of an
anti-missile site with around ten missiles. A team of US experts has
already surveyed sites in the Czech Republic.
In the same televised debate, Mr Svoboda also said the Czech Republic will not take part in an international military presence in Lebanon.
Long-distance swimmer David Cech has become the first Czech to swim La
Manche in both directions. Cech completed the swim from France to
England in 19 hours 54 minutes on Sunday.
On Saturday, Yvetta Hlavacova set a new women's world record for swimming the English Channel one way. She swam the 36 km in seven hours 25 minutes. The swimmer hoped to set a record both ways but gave up after some 14 hours, with only around 12 km to go, due to exhaustion.