The Czech government has reached an agreement with the country’s churches on a 17-year transitional period as part of their property settlement deal, Culture Minister Jiří Besser told reporters on Thursday. Over the first three years, the government will continue paying the full costs of religious ministers’ salaries and the churches’ administrative costs. For the remaining 14 years, payments from the state will decrease by 5 percent each year. Thursday’s deal was the final detail approved by the government and the churches; earlier this month, the churches agreed to the government’s proposal to physically return 56 percent of church property confiscated by the communist regime in 1950s, now worth around 75 billion crowns, while the churches will receive some 59 billion crowns in compensation for the rest.
One of the attackers in Sunday’s mass street fight in the north Bohemian town of Rumburk turned himself in to the police early on Thursday morning. The 25-year-old man was charged with racially motivated attempted bodily harm, a police spokesman said. If convicted, the man will face up to 12 years in prison. The police had earlier charged six other attackers in connection with the street fight; two of them have been arrested. On Sunday, ethnic tensions in the poor northern Bohemian region of Šluknov culminated in a street fight when around 20 Romanies attacked six ethnic Czechs. The Czech government has meanwhile reinforced police presence in the region, sending in a unit of riot police.
The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry will abolish infant homes in the Czech Republic by the year 2013, minister Jaromír Drábek told reporters on Thursday. The announcement comes after the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, called on the Czech government to stop placing infants under three years of age in such homes. Mr Drábek said that beginning on January 1, 2013, babies under three will be placed in individual foster care while by 2016, children under the age of seven will no longer be placed in these homes. There are 34 infant homes in the Czech Republic; some 2,000 babies and infants stayed in them last year; around half of them due to their families’ failure to provide adequate care.
Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek and the Danish ambassador to Prague, Ole Emil Moesby, signed on Thursday a new agreement between the two countries to prevent tax evasions and double taxation of their citizens. The previous treaty, signed in 1982, no longer reflected new political, economic and tax conditions, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry said. The new agreement determines the right of the two countries in levying income tax on subjects that are active in one country and based in the other; it also sets down the principles for the cooperation of Danish and Czech tax authorities and the exchange of related information.
Czech truck maker Tatra has made a bid for a contract worth 1.22 billion US dollars to supply 1,500 trucks to the Canadian army, the news website ekonom.cz reported on Thursday. The Czech firm bids its ATX model, developed in cooperation with the US producer Avistar; the trucks chassis and cabins are made in the Czech Republic. Tatra will compete with six other producers in the tender, including the British-American firm BAE Systems, Germany’s Daimler and the French company Renault. The winning bid will be announced in 2013.
The fifth International Compatriot Folklore Festival began in Prague on Thursday. The three-day event brings together 13 ensembles from Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia and other countries. Around 400 participants in the festival will appear at several venues in the capital, including the seat of the Czech Senate. The festival will conclude with a procession of the participants in the Hradčany district on Sunday.
Secondary school students in Prague, the Hradec Králové, South Moravia and Vysočina regions did best in the new state school leaving exams in June, Education Minister Josef Dobeš said on Thursday. The worst results were registered in the northern regions of Ústí nad Labem, Karlovy Vary and Liberec. Mr Dobeš said each secondary school would receive an analysis outlining their students’ strengths and weaknesses. More than 100,000 secondary school students sat the new state exam in June; around 20,000 of them failed, and will re-sit the exam in September.
An appellate court in Ostrava on Thursday confirmed jail sentences of eight and nine years for a 30-year old Albanian and 36 year-old Kosovar who were convicted of importing and selling cocaine in the Czech Republic. The court said they imported at least two kilograms of the illicit drug, worth around three million crowns, from the Netherlands to the northern city of Ostrava where they sold it to local dealers. The police used an undercover agent to intercept and convict the criminals.
Moja, the first gorilla bred in captivity in Prague zoo, will move to Spain in October to mate, the zoo’s director, Miroslav Bobek, said on Thursday. The 6-year-old gorilla will live in the Cabárceno wildlife reserve in the north of Spain where she is expected to find a mating partner imported from the wild. Moja has become very popular with visitors to the zoo; between 2005 and 2008, she was the star of a reality show broadcast by Czech Radio and Czech TV.
The end of the week will be hot, with mostly clear skies and occasional storms. Daytime highs should range between 33 and 36 degrees Celsius.