Slovakia and Poland have lifted their ban on the import and sale of Czech spirits. Slovak Agriculture Minister Lubomír Jahnátek said on Tuesday that all Czech spirits imported to the country would have to have certificates of origin and a clearly marked date of production. He said Slovakia would recognize certificates issued in the Czech Republic. Special measures will apply to spirits produced between January and September this year which is considered high-risk. Poland is taking similar measures. Czech liquor producers recently protested against the ban arguing that their certified products were unquestionably safe.
Police have arrested a man suspected of distributing contaminated bootleg spirits in the Semily area, north-east of Prague. The man is reported to have bought cheap liquor from Moravia containing the deadly methanol. Police found over 3 thousand liters of it in storage on his premises. If convicted the man would face up to five years in prison.
The leadership of the ruling TOP 09 party met on Tuesday to consider a possible successor to outgoing Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek. Mr. Drábek is to leave office at the end of the month in connection with the bribery charges leveled against his first deputy Vladimir Siska. Minister Drábek, who is to be questioned by investigators on Friday said that he did not feel in any way guilty but was prepared to accept political responsibility for the actions of his subordinates. Among the names being floated are the party’s deputy chairwoman Helena Langšádlová and Deputy Health Minister Marek Ženísek. The final decision will be in the hands of party leader Karel Schwarzenberg.
The six rebel Civic Democrat deputies who will decide the fate of the centre-right government at an upcoming parliamentary session in October say there is still room for a compromise solution. Following Tuesday’s session of the party’s deputies club in Parliament, Petr Tluchoř said he and five other deputies who were not willing to support tax hikes had no interest in bringing down the coalition government. He said the group had offered the Civic Democratic party alternate ways of saving money which would not necessitate a 1 percent VAT hike next year. The proposal is reportedly a package of cost-cutting measures in the public sector. The row over tax hikes within the prime minister’s Civic Democratic Party threatens to bring down the government since the prime minister has linked a vote of confidence in his government to the controversial tax hike bill. The bill is to be debated at a session starting October 23.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki will head a Czech delegation to Prague on Thursday. His meeting with Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas is expected to focus on security matters, business ties and the debated sale of Czech L-159 fighter jets to the Iraqi military. The Iraqi ministers of defense, foreign affairs culture and trade will be holding separate talks with their Czech counterparts. An unnamed diplomatic source told the CTK news agency on Tuesday that the Czech Republic had invested a great deal into the reconstruction process in Iraq and logically wanted to tap the existing business potential.
Work pressure, job uncertainty and financial problems are believed to be behind the growing number of suicides in the Czech Republic. According to the National Health Institute 1600 people took their own lives last year as compared to 1375 in 2007. The number of people getting treatment for depression is also on the rise. Psychiatrists report over 100,000 patients last year and say the number of people suffering from depression without getting treatment is likely to be six times higher. The number of depressions and suicides has always hit a peak at tumultuous times in the country’s history such as 1934 when the country was hit by an economic crisis or after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
The 16th Forum 2000 – the first to be held since ex-president Vaclav Havel’s death – will be attended among others by former US secretary of State Madelaine Albright, the head of the Tibetan government in exile Lobsang Sangay and Serbian Deputy PM for EU affairs Suzana Grubjesic. According to the Forum 2000 website this year’s debate will focus on media and democracy, a topic proposed by the late Vaclav Havel at the close of the previous conference a year ago. Forum 2000 was established by Vaclav Havel as a meeting of minds on the issues of the present day. The conference is scheduled to start on October 21st.
Nineteen football fans have been charged with disorderly conduct after starting a fight near Prague’s Skalka metro station ahead of Monday’s game between Sparta Slavia and Baník Ostrava. Police say they are still analyzing material from security cameras in the vicinity and are not ruling out further charges. The fight was allegedly planned in advance but the police managed to separate the groups and prevent serious injuries.
A stamp honoring Prague´s Postal Museum has won the prestigious Grand Prix competition for the world´s most beautiful postage stamp at the WIPA world exhibition in Vienna, Czech Post said on Tuesday. The stamp depicts an old postage emblem surrounded by a map and mail carriers of olden times. Stamps from Liechtenstein and Slovakia came second and third.