Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has expressed strong support for Serbian accession to the EU, saying Serbia could always count on Czech backing when it came to EU expansion. Mr Schwarzenberg made the statement on Monday after meeting in Prague with his Serbian counterpart Ivan Mrkic. The Balkans joining the EU is one of the priorities of Czech foreign policy. Kosovo, a former province in Serbia which declared independence four years ago remains a point of contention but Mr Mrkic said Serbia was open to discussion and said the matter would be discussed by the prime ministers. The European Commission has made clear that Serbia will be able to move ahead with accession talks if it takes clear steps towards improving relations.
The Finance Ministry has put forward a new draft of the 2013 state budget, being discussed by the cabinet on Monday, accounting for a drop in revenues and cuts in spending next year by 41 billion crowns. The budget deficit is to remain at 100 billion crowns, the same as in the previous draft. The cuts proposed are to affect science and research, transport infrastructure, teachers’ salaries and programmes co-financed by EU funds. The government must submit the draft budget to the Chamber of Deputies by November 23. The revised version of the budget bill, the ministry revealed, is taking into account current economic forecasts as well as the failure by the government so far to push through a tax package raising both VAT rates by 1 percentage point. The government has tied a vote on the bill this Wednesday to a vote of confidence.
Fire fighters evacuated 17 people from an eight-story pre-fab apartment building in Plzeň-Doubrava on Monday after a fire broke out. Six people were taken to hospital for treatment; the additional ten were treated on site. The fire broke out on the first floor and spread quickly through the ventilation system, according to reports. The damage is expected to rise to several million crowns.
Public broadcaster Czech TV has revealed it will air debates involving all presidential candidates ahead of the country’s presidential election, and two debates between two final candidates if voting goes to a second round. A spokeswoman for the broadcaster said on Monday that candidates would also be profiled by reporters in other programmes. Station head Petr Dvořák said Czech TV wanted to provide proper coverage ahead of the vote, the first direct presidential election in the country’s history. As of Monday, 10 candidates had officially registered. The final deadline is 4 pm on Tuesday.
Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kuba was elected as the new first
vice-chairman of the Civic Democratic, replacing lower house speaker
Miroslava Němcová. 363 delegates at the party conference voted for the
new vice-chairman on Sunday. In a brief interview with the press after his
victory, Mr Kuba said that he believes that the government may find a way
to find a compromise with the rebel Civic Democratic MPs, but gave to
Later on Sunday the conference delegates voted in four new vice-chair people: former Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil, current Justice Minister Pavel Blažek, Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa, and Ms Němcová, who received the least number of votes of the four.
A neogothic palace in the northern city of Ústí nad Labem, which has been used as a chemical laboratory for the past 50 years, is up for sale. The palace’s current owner, the biggest Czech oil refinery Unipetrol, has announced the sale of Ústí nad Labem’s most valuable building from the 19th century. Unipetrol had to lower the selling price this week, after the building has been on the market for about a year.
Lucie Šafářová secured the Czech women’s team’s second Fed Cup victory in a row, after she beat Jelena Janković 6-1, 6-1. The Czechs beat Serbia 3-1 on Sunday, with a single loosing match between Petra Kvitová and Ana Ivanović. Both Šafářová and Kvitová won their matches on the first dame of the final. The Czechs won the Fed Cup last year against Russian, receiving thetitle for the first time since the Czech Republic became an independent state. The Czechoslovak women’s team won the Fed Cup title three times in a row in 1983-1985. The Czech men’s team is also in the final of the Davis Cup this year, which they will play against Spain in Prague on November 16-18.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas defended his post as the chairman of the Civic
Democratic party, having received 351 at the party conference in Brno on
Sunday. Mr Nečas’ contender MP Ivan Fuksa won 178 votes from the party
delegates. Mr Fuksa announced that he will challenge the incumbent
late on Saturday night. Mr Nečas said that the government should continue
with its fiscal policies in his speech before the vote.
The old-new chairman of the Civic Democratic party Petr Nečas confirmed that the government is prepared to make changes to the 2013 budget in case the tax reform package is not passed by the lower house of parliament next week, in an interview with Czech Television’s Vaclav Moravec on Sunday.
This year will see a record number of bottles of Saint Martin’s wines going on sale, up by almost 200 thousand bottles from last year. 380 samples from 122 vinyards received the designation of Saint Martin wine, the majority were from the Müller Thurgau grapes. The feast of Saint Martin, which is celebrated in the Czech Republic on November 11, has become an occasion for the country’s winemakers to present and sell their young wines. Saint Martin wines are the first new wines of the year that are supposed to be consumed within a few months after bottling. The first bottles of Saint Martin wines will be opened at celebratory events on November 11 at 11 am.
Members of the Czech cabinet will be discussing a new proposal for the
2013 budget on Monday. Despite the expected decline in tax revenue, the
proposal will be based on a 100 billion crown deficit. Finance Minister
Miroslav Kalousek had said earlier that the main cuts will be in
transportation, science and research, as well as co-financing of EU
projects. Mr Kalousek is preparing an alternative budget proposal given
possibility that VAT rates will not be raised and also considering the
estimated slower growth of the economy. The lower house returned the
original budget proposal to the cabinet for reworking because of
disagreements within the coalition over the tax reform package. The
government has to present the new budget proposal by November 23.
Rebel Civic Democratic MPs who have been refusing to support the tax reform package will continue talks with the government over the reforms, said one of the rebels Ivan Fuksa, although they are unlikely to change their stance. The lower house will renew deliberations on the reform package on Tuesday
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