The Czech government plans to keep community service for the unemployed
which was overturned last week by the country’s Constitutional Court, the
minister of labour and social affairs, Ludmila Müllerová said on Czech TV
on Sunday. To accommodate the objections of the court, the system might
undergo some minor changes, Ms Müllerová said. These could include the
prolongation of period after which the jobless are required to start
community service, and even a possibility of some salary being paid to
those who take part in the programme.
The Constitutional Court last week said the free yet compulsory community service for the unemployed, introduced by the Nečas government last year, was humiliating, in breach of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and also contradicted a ban on forced labour.
The Czech Republic’s security council is set to discuss on Monday a possible deal with Sweden to extend the lease of the JAS 39 Gripen fighters. The outgoing Czech Defence Minister, Alexandr Vondra, will inform the council of the negotiations; Mr Vondra said earlier this week the latest offer was much better than the one made previously. The ten-year-lease of the Swedish-made fighters will expire in 2014; the Czech government prefers an extension of the lease to a new tender. The news agency ČTK reported that three possible deals are being discussed: a three-year extension for over five billion, a five-year lease for nearly eight billion, or a ten-year extension for more than 14 billion crowns.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke over the phone with his
Czech counterpart, Petr Nečas, over the weekend to express his gratitude
for the Czech vote against the Palestinian status upgrade at the United
Nations, the news website Jerusalem Post reported. In Thursday’s vote in
the UN General Assembly, the Czech Republic was the only EU country to vote
against the bid. Mr Netanyahu also said he would stop in Prague on his way
to Germany next week to personally thank the Czech Republic for voting with
Czech banks post higher profits in Q1-3
Czech banks posted higher annual profits in the first three quarters of this year, according to figures released by the Czech central bank on Sunday. Their net profits increased by 10 billion crowns and reached 52.2 billion crowns. The banks’ interest returns were one percent higher while fees and commissions generated 2.5 less revenues than in the same period last year. The highest increase in profits was reported by Česká spořitelna which made 11.8 billion crowns, representing a 23-percent rise; Komerční banka’s profits reached 10.9 billion crowns which was 55 percent more than last year.
The Czech movie Alois Nebel, by Tomáš Luňák, won the European Film Award for best animated feature film at an awards ceremony in Malta on Saturday night. The existential black-and-white thriller about a lonely train dispatcher haunted by the past beat the other nominees, the Spanish movie Wrinkles and the US-UK film Pirates. Alois Nebel, wihc is based on a comics novel by Jaroslav Rudiš and Jaromír99, has become the third Czech film to win Europe’s equivalent of the Academy award, after Miloš Forman’s People vs Larry Flint and Helena Třeštíková’s documentary René.
The Christian Democratic party wants to double its tally in the next general election and re-enter the lower house of Parliament, party chair Pavel Bělobrádek said. Speaking at the party’s conference in Jihlava on Saturday, Christian Democrat leaders called for unity and more activity on the regional level. The party also slightly changed its statutes discussed changes to the name of the party; however, the conference decided to keep the name of the Christian-Democrat Union – the Czechoslovak People’s Party. In the 2010 election, the party only won some 4.3 percent of the vote and failed to win seats in the house, for the first time in 90 years.
The economic recession has curbed the interest in renting and purchasing
traditional costumes of St Nicolas, the angel and the devil donned on the
upcoming holiday of the saint, the news agency ČTK reported. Quoting a
survey among several costume rentals in the capital, the agency said many
people bought their own costumes in the past or only rent the costume of St
Nicolas, rather than the complete trio.
A central European analogy to Santa Claus, St Nicolas accompanied by an angel and a devil brings small gifts to children on the night of December 5, the eve of his holiday.
The authorities have asked drivers to exercise extra caution in parts of the country affected by adverse weather conditions. In the west of the country, some roads are covered with ice while in the east, snow and fog can cause poor visibility. Roads in the mountainous areas including the Šumava are reportedly covered with snow.
Czech President Václav Klaus and Prime Minister Petr Nečas have rejected an invitation to attend the awarding ceremony of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union that will take place in Oslo on December 10. A spokesman for the eurosceptic Czech president provided no reasons behind Mr Klaus’ decision, the government’s spokesman said Prime Minister Nečas was too busy to attend the ceremony. For his part, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said he had not been invited. The opposition Social Democrats have criticized Mr Nečas’ decision which they said put the Czech government into isolation. The Czech Republic will be one of six EU member states whose top officials will not attend the ceremony, according to media reports.
Christian Democrats are discussing strategies to gain higher voter support at a one-day programme conference in Jihlava on Saturday. Party chair Pavel Bělobrádek said the group should pursue the concept of social market economy, and present itself as an alternative to the policies of the current government. The conference is also expected to alter the name of the party which now in full reads the Christian-Democrat Union – the Czechoslovak People’s Party. The group failed to win seats in the lower house in the 2010 general elections but most polls suggest it has a good chance of crossing the 5-percent threshold to enter the house.
The new CEO of the largest Czech public health insurance company, VZP, Civic Democrat Zdeněk Kabátek, assumes his post on Saturday. Mr Kabátek, who most recently worked at the Health Ministry, was chosen by the company’s board earlier this week. He replaces Pavel Horák who stepped down over budget issues. The change is part of a broader overhaul of the company’s management initiated by the Health Ministry. The new CEO said his first goal was to stabilize the company’s finances.