Zdenek Hruby, chairman of the supervisory board of the power utility CEZ, has been appointed to the post of government secretary for the country's EU presidency in 2009. Mr. Hruby has considerable experience in managing international projects. He was chief coordinator of the IMF and World Bank meeting in Prague in the year 2000 and national coordinator of EU funds. The Czech Republic should hold the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2009.
Czech political leaders are once again searching for a solution to the country's drawn-out political crisis. The Civic Democratic Party, whose leader Mirek Topolanek was re-appointed prime minister on Wednesday, has refused to hold talks exclusively with the Social Democrats. The party wants to keep its options open and will negotiate simultaneously with all parties in the lower house.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has said he is not opposed to Turkey's entry into the EU if the country can meet the required criteria. Speaking on a working visit to Denmark, Mr. Klaus said that he would rather see the EU enlarged than more closely integrated. The president did not wish to comment on the US election results, merely saying that he did not expect any significant changes in bilateral ties. On Thursday the Czech president had lunch with the Queen of Denmark, Margarethe II and met with some of the country's top officials.
The Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize is selling all of its 96 Delvita supermarkets in the Czech Republic and leaving the country. The supermarket chain said Thursday its net profit had more than halved in the third quarter mainly due to its Czech business, which had prompted the decision to sell. Company chief executive Pierre-Olivier Beckers said the divestment would allow Delhaize to focus on higher opportunity markets."
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek, has indicated that he is prepared to run for the post of speaker of the lower house. He told journalists on Thursday that this could lead to a breakthrough and he called for constructive talks to break the deadlock. Civic Democrat deputy chairman Petr Necas said this appeared to be a step in the right direction but he added that the Social Democrat leader was not in a position to call the shots.
The police has uncovered the whereabouts of two Czech criminals who are hiding in New Zealand, according to Thursday's edition of Mlada Fronta Dnes. The two criminals escaped from the country after being sentenced for rape, blackmail and a hold-up. They are both wanted on an international arrest warrant and the Czech authorities have asked the New Zealand police to arrest and extradite them.
President Vaclav Klaus has re-appointed Civic Democrat leader Mirek
Topolanek prime minister and asked him to make a fresh attempt at forming
a new government. Mr Topolanek was first appointed prime minister in
August after a general election that left the 200-seat lower house of
parliament equally divided between right- and left-wing parties. But he
failed to win a vote of confidence from parliament in October and was
forced to resign after only 38 days in the job.
Meanwhile, the Civic Democratic Party has launched informal talks on forming a new government and expects Mirek Topolanek to report on their results to the President next week, party deputy head Petr Necas said on Wednesday.
President Vaclav Klaus has appointed Jaroslav Bures as deputy chairman of the Supreme Court. Mr Bures is now a deputy to Iva Brozova whom President Klaus unsuccessfully tried to dismiss earlier this year. Ms Brozova was injured in a car accident in May and is to be out of office until the end of the year. She said that Mr Bures's appointment was in breach of the Constitution as the Supreme Court should have only one deputy chairperson. During Ms Brozova's absence, the court has been headed by its deputy chairman Pavel Kucera.
The number of cases of tick-borne encephalitis has increased by 70 percent compared to last year, according to a report by the State Health Authority. 890 people got infected this year - the highest number in the last decade. Experts attribute this year's increase to a hot summer with many tropical days and also to a larger number of infected insects. Only ten percent of Czechs have been vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis, a disease which can cause permanent neurological damage and - in some cases - death.
The Social Democrats say they expect Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to submit in writing his proposed solutions to the current political situation. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said at a news conference on Wednesday that a potential agreement between the Civic Democrats and his Social Democrats should be "public, transparent and crystal clear". On Tuesday the party expressed willingness to discuss support for a minority Civic Democrat cabinet with a limited two year mandate. On Wednesday, party chairman Jiri Paroubek admitted the possibility of a grand coalition of the Civic and Social Democrats.
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