Twelve Czechs remain unaccounted for in the wake of the Indian Ocean disaster, eight of the missing are feared dead. A man who has both Czech and Swiss citizenship is also missing, but is kept on the Swiss list since he lives and works in Switzerland. The Czech Republic has only one confirmed casualty so far - a 24 year old woman. Meanwhile, experts have been taking DNA samples from relatives of the eight Czechs believed to have died. The results have already been sent to Thailand and Sri Lanka in order to aid the identification process. The Czech Foreign Ministry has now openly acknowledged the possibility that the bodies of some Czech victims may already have been buried in mass graves.
Czechs contributed another 35 million crowns in relief aid to the afflicted countries over the weekend, bringing the total amount to 185 million crowns, the biggest ever collection for an overseas disaster in the country's history. Charities are now mainly focussing on helping orphans, supplying hospitals and rebuilding fishing villages in the devastated region. The Czech government has contributed 15 million crowns in aid and pledged another 200 million for reconstruction of the stricken region.
The centre right Civic Democratic Party will put forward a bill on a referendum on the European Constitution. The proposed bill relates to this particular referendum alone, and stipulates under what conditions it should be held. Posing a simple yes-or-no question, the referendum should be preceded by an in-depth informative campaign and should take place before the end of the year. The leading opposition party of Civic Democrats are opposed to the European Constitution in its present form and have repeatedly warned Czechs that it would restrict the sovereignty of their country.
Josef Fischera, a WWII veteran and leading figure of the Czechoslovak exile community in France has died at the age of 93. The funeral is to take place in Kolin, central Bohemia where Fishera's family has its tomb. Fishera was active in the French resistance movement during World War II and helped save dozens of Jewish children. He earned a number of decorations, including the French Legion of Honour, the Czech order of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk. After the war Fishera taught social sciences at Sorbonne University.
The biggest dairy producer in the country, the south Bohemia company Madeta is laying off employees, due to lower production. The firm has been forced to lower production because many south and west Bohemian farmers who were regular suppliers of milk are now selling it to German dairy firms at a more advantageous price. Milk exports to neighbouring Germany have tripled over the past year. Madeta says it expects to lay off up to 350 employees, including administrative workers.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, the acting head of the Social Democrats, over the weekend won the support of three regional party branches in his bid to become party chairman. The Social Democrats are due to elect a new leadership at the party's national conference in late March. Prime Minister Gross' main rival for the nomination is Zdenek Skromach, the Labour and Social Affairs Minister, who garnered little support at the weekend vote.
President Vaclav Klaus is expected to nominate Czech National Bank head Zdenek Tuma for another six-year term as bank governor. Citing unnamed sources, the daily Hospodarske Noviny reports that the economist Miroslav Singer of the consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers and long-time Klaus adviser Robert Holman, a professor at the Prague-based University of Economics, will be named to the central bank's governing board; the former CEO of the Czech consolidation agency, Pavel Rezabek, is also thought to be in the running.
Tuesday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with some rain and day temperatures between 6 and 10 degrees Celsius.
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