Members of the environmental organisation Greenpeace blocked the main entrance to the Environment Ministry on Monday. The activists were protesting at a ministry proposal to give firms permission to release 102 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in the years between 2008 and 2012. On wooden planks nailed across the entrance the activists wrote "closed for inactivity" and "not protecting the climate but polluters". Four protesters were arrested by the police who needed three hours to unblock the entrance to the ministry.
Up to a third of the Czech Republic's butchers could go out of business, the head of the Czech meat processors union, Jaromir Klouda, said in an interview for Lidove noviny. Czech butchers have until the end of 2009 to meet European Union standards for preparing meat. Mr Klouda said for small butchers adapting their workplaces it would involve difficult building work and could be prohibitively expensive.
The leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, who resigned as prime
minister last month is to be reappointed into the post. President Vaclav
Klaus surprised many with the announcement at a special press conference
on Monday. Mr Topolanek handed in his resignation after his cabinet failed
to get a vote of confidence in the lower house of Parliament. He is to be
given a second chance to form a new government, the President said, adding
that he no longer insists it have a majority in the lower house. Mr
Topolanek himself says whether or not he should accept the offer will be
decided during a party leadership meeting on Tuesday.
Since the general elections in June ended in political stalemate the five parliamentary parties have not been able to agree on a new government. President Klaus said the leader of the second strongest party, Social Democrat Jiri Paroubek, was to blame and has called off a planned meeting with leaders of the five parliamentary parties, which was to be held on Tuesday.
Three Romany organisations have written to Pope Benedict XVI asking him to intervene in a case in which Roma rent defaulters have been forced out of the town of Vsetin by the mayor, Jiri Cunek. Vaclav Miko of the group Roma Realia Dobromerice said Czechs and Czech Christians needed to be alerted to the fact that Mr Cunek's actions were a "sin".
The rate of corruption in the Czech Republic has declined but the country still ranks among the worst in the EU. This, according to a new Transparency International report that evaluated how the situation has changed in 163 countries in the last year. The Czech Republic figures among more than ten countries where the corruption index has improved the most. In 2005, the Czech Republic ended 47th, with 4.3 points on a ten-point scale, where 10 is the best showing, along with Namibia, Slovakia and Greece. In this year's report it finished 46th with 4.8 points, along with Kuwait and Lithuania.
Czechs are one of the most optimistic nations when asked about employment opportunities, a European public opinion poll suggests. Results of a new Eurobarometer survey indicate that 56 percent of Czechs believe they will be employed in two years' time. In the 25 EU member states, the Czech Republic ranked 8th when it came to optimism. Citizens of neighbouring Slovakia and Poland on the other hand appear to be much more pessimistic; a mere 29 percent of each population think they will hold a full-time job in 2008.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek says he is prepared to negotiate with the Civic Democrats if their leader Mirek Topolanek is entrusted with the task of forming a new government. During a special press conference on Monday evening, for which Mr Paroubek cut short his vacation, he said the Social Democrats are willing to come to a compromise and tone down demands in terms of a policy programme and important posts. Mr Paroubek, whose party came second in the elections in June, strongly rejected any responsibility for the country's political deadlock.
Setting up a company in the Czech Republic takes 24 days, compared to the average of 16 in OECD countries, according to a report released by the World Bank. The Czech Republic ranks 74th in the world in terms of difficulty of starting a company. While there are six steps involved in starting a firm in advanced countries, here there are 10.
The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, and other senior officials have welcomed the sentencing to death of Saddam Hussein. Mr Topolanek said it had been an act of justice and a warning to other dictators. He also said the fact the former Iraqi leader had been tried in a civilised manner by an Iraqi court offered hope for the country's future. Czech Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra said it was a historic milestone by which Iraq would come to terms with its past.
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