Starting May 1st, Czechs will be able to work in Germany and Austria without any restrictions. The day marks the expiration of legislation that limited access to the German and Austrian labor markets for citizens from newer EU member states. In the past, Czechs as well as citizens from other more recent member states had to apply for a work permit with the German or Austrian authorities to be able to work in either country. The expiration of this legislation will put an end to a seven-year transition period that started in 2004, when the Czech Republic, along with states such as Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, joined the EU, but their citizens were not free to seek employment in Germany or Austria without applying for a work permit first. German experts do not expect that a significant number of citizens from abroad will flood the German labor market.
Former prime minister Mirek Topolánek will be travelling with Prime Minister Petr Nečas on his official visit to Iraq as part of a delegation of entrepreneurs. Mr. Topolánek is the director of VAE Controls, a company that focuses on the construction of pipelines for petroleum products, as well as water distribution networks, services that are in high demand in Iraq. The visit, the first of a Czech prime minister since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government, is expected to take place in late May. The two countries’ heads of government are expected to sign an agreement on mutual protection of investments.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said on Thursday that he is planning to discontinue state support of building savings plans entirely starting 2012. He added that discontinuing state contributions to such building savings plans would save about 13 billion crows annually and relieve the state budget of a significant strain. The change in legislation would affect roughly five million Czech account holders. Mr. Kalousek’s announcement came as a reaction to a ruling from the Constitutional Court, which on Wednesday overturned a recent government reform of building savings accounts, satisfying a complaint raised by the opposition Social Democrats. The court found the law unconstitutional in that it retroactively affects contracts signed under different conditions.
The Czech government has come under fire for acknowledging Kosovo’s independent statehood in 2008. During question time in the lower house of Parliament, the opposition lashed out against Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, labeling the government’s decision to recognize Kosovo as an independent state a disgrace. Deputy Jaroslav Foldyna, of the Social Democrats, said that he was ashamed of the step his government has taken. Mr. Schwarzenberg replied that it would take a long time for Kosovo to become a lawful state in practice and not just in theory.
In 2010, the United Nation’s International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion on the country’s declaration of independence, concluding that it did not violate international law. Kosovo’s independence is considered controversial because its establishment by the Kosovo Liberation Army, which some consider a terrorist organization, was followed by the Kosovo War. To date, a total of 76 countries have officially recognized Kosovo as an independent state.
The Czech Republic’s gift to Prince William and Kate Middleton, on occasion of the royal couple’s wedding to be held in London on Friday, will be a horse of the rare Kladruber breed, the director of the National stud farm Kladruby nad Labem told the media on Thursday. He added that he had picked a five-year-old stud of one of the most precious bloodlines within the breed, the Favory line, and would be honored to give it to the young couple. The government has confirmed the information. The Kladruber is the oldest Czech horse breed, and today is among the rarest in general.
Oscar-winning Czech director Miloš Forman, as well as his long-standing collaborator, cameraman Miroslav Ondříček, on Thursday planted two Oregon White Oak trees in Prague’s botanical garden. The planting took place as part of an ongoing celebrity patron project of the botanical garden. It is meant to raise awareness of tree species threatened by extinction. In the past, directors such as Jiří Menzel, Jan Svěřák or Helena Třeštíková have planted trees in the garden. Mr. Forman has lived in the United States since the late sixties. His film Amadeus received eight Oscars in 1984.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice has dismissed another deputy, the fourth since he took office last week. The ministry told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday that the deputy minister for public administration, legislation and archiving, František Vavera, had agreed to leave his post at the end of April. On Tuesday, the deputies for security and finances were let go for poor performance; deputy minister for strategy and program management Michal Moroz has also resigned. Mr. Kubice initially said there would not be a major personnel shakedown upon his taking office. The only remaining deputy from former interior minister Radek John’s team is now Viktor Čech, who handles international relations and is the police ombudsman.
The European Commission has decided that spreadable butter, a traditional product from the Czech Republic, will not be granted the EU’s specialty label. The commission argued that the name, spreadable butter, was deceiving, since the product only contains about 30 percent of milk fat, while under EU regulations, any spread labeled butter has to contain at least 80 percent of milk fat. The commission added that the name could mislead some EU consumers. This is the first case in which the commission has turned down a request by the Czech Republic for one of its products to be granted the specialty label.
A spokesman for the Karlovy Vary regional government said on Thursday that Central Connect Airlines, a company that was planning to operate flights out of Karlovy Vary airport to Vienna, had pulled out of the project because it would not be lucrative enough, even though the regional government had promised to contribute funding of up to 3.6 million Czech crowns. The new connection between Karlovy Vary and Vienna was supposed to start operating in June. It would have been the first from Karlovy Vary to a Western city. Currently, Karlovy Vary airport boasts connections to several member countries of the Soviet Union.
A regional court has issued prison sentences of five and eight years to a group of three Czechs charged with two counts of human trafficking. The three had forcibly taken a woman to Vienna and tried to make her work as a prostitute in 2008. The victim resisted her perpetrators, who then returned her to the Czech Republic. In 2009, the group took another Czech woman to the UK under false pretenses, where the victim was forced to work as a prostitute for three months before escaping and returning to the Czech Republic. Two of the perpetrators, a man and a woman, refused to give a testimony in court, while the third member of the group was not present during the trial.
The coming days are expected to be cloudy to clear with scattered showers and daytime temperatures of around 18° Celsius.