The Zambian government has described as unfortunate the efforts of the Czech government to involve the EU in trying to secure the release of three Czech nationals who face trial in Lusaka over spying charges. Minister of Foreign Affairs Chishimba Kambwili said Czech efforts to persuade the European Union to impose sanctions against Zambia if the country does not release the suspects was not conducive to good relations and that his country would not be threatened. Mr. Kambwili said the matter was in the courts and the Zambian government would not interfere with the ongoing legal proceedings. However it said it remained open to dialogue with Prague.
The Czech Foreign Ministry is sending a special envoy to Zambia in connection with the case and MEP Jan Březina recently asked the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to use all available means to help release the Czech citizens. Meanwhile Luděk Zahradníček, Czech ambassador to Zimbabwe who represents the Czech Republic in Zambia, has denied allegations that his country had threatened Zambia with sanctions and expressed hope that the case would soon be resolved.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has offered German Chancellor Angela Merkel a public debate on the completion of the Temelín nuclear power plant in south Bohemia. Czech Radio reported that the prime minister had written Chancellor Merkel a letter saying that Czech-German relations and cooperation in the energy sector and beyond would be strengthened by a unified approach to the issue. Mr Nečas is to meet with Bavarian Minister-President Horst Seehofer on Wednesday evening and will discuss how to make the sensitive issue of Temelín as transparent as possible.
The government has postponed by a month a debate on drafting a constitutional lawsuit against the Communist Party, after four studies by independent legal experts advised against such a move. The cabinet had asked the interior ministry to draft a proposal for banning the Communist Party on the grounds that its statutes and activities were in violation of the constitution but the ministry recently reported that it had failed to assemble enough evidence on which to ground such a request.
The prime minister has ridiculed the unions’ anti-corruption crusade, comparing it to partisans who joined the resistance movement when the war was practically over. At a press briefing in Prague on Wednesday, Mr. Nečas said he failed to see the point of the unions’ anti-corruption drive in view of the government’s clearly-outlined anti-corruption strategy. Mr. Nečas said all cases of suspected corruption were being dealt with and the government had approved legislation which would narrow the space for corruption in the future. Trade unions will stage a rally in Prague on Friday and march to the lower house of Parliament where they plan to submit an appeal requesting the setting up of a special parliamentary commission which would supervise the investigation of large-scale corruption cases.
President Vaclav Klaus has launched a new book which contains scathing criticism of the EU. At the launch of his latest publication entitled European Integration without Illusions Mr. Klaus said the EU was in a blind alley and should backtrack from its policy of deeper integration, returning to an alliance in which states cooperate while fully retaining their sovereignty. The book focuses on the current problems of the eurozone saying that the financial troubles surfacing in different member states are but the tip of the iceberg.
Police are questioning a bus driver who was caught drink-driving. The driver of an inter-city bus in the west of the country was reportedly so intoxicated that passengers took the matter into their own hands and called the police. One of the passengers had a bus driver’s license and drove the vehicle to the next stop where the police were waiting to take over. The man is reported to have had a 4,7 per mille alcohol content in his blood, an amount that is considered highly toxic. The bus company for which he works has promised to sack him.
Prices of electricity for households in the Czech Republic will rise by 3.4 percent on average next year, according to the Energy Regulatory Office. Electricity prices for small businesses are expected to increase by 4.3 percent. Prices for large companies will go up by between 6 and 6.6 percent. According to the office electricity prices are affected mainly by last year´s boom of solar power plants and a growth of output of biogas stations and biomass combustion sources. The government has earmarked 11.7 billion crowns to offset the influence of renewable sources on electricity prices for next year, but some impact is expected nevertheless.
The Czech unit of the natural gas giant RWE will raise natural gas prices for households by 9 percent on average from mid-December due to a steep depreciation of the Czech crown, which makes imports more expensive, a spokesman for the utility said on Wednesday. It is the company's second price increase in less than two months triggered by the crown's fall against the US dollar. In November, it boosted household prices by 5.2 percent.
The 2011 Absurdity of the Year award given to the most meaningless and burdensome bureaucratic regulation in force has gone to a regulation stipulating that companies must provide a written document stating they have a clean bill of health when the information is available freely online. Second place went to the free delivery of a wide range of magazines to members of Parliament including porn magazines.
A poll conducted by the CVVM agency shows that the opposition Social Democrats have retained their lead over the ruling parties. If elections to the lower house were held today the main opposition party would win 34.5 percent of the vote, with a 13 percent lead on the ruling Civic Democrats. The Communists would gain 17 percent and TOP 09 would get 13.5 percent of the vote. The junior party in the ruling coalition, Public Affairs, would muster a mere 4 percent which means it would not cross the margin needed to win seats in Parliament.
The coming days should be cloudy with daytime highs between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.