News

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Czech-U.S. radar agreement reached

The Czech Republic and the United States have reached agreement on the main treaty concerning the possible siting of a U.S. radar base on Czech territory, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said on Thursday after meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a NATO summit in Bucharest. The actual treaty will be signed in Prague at the beginning of May.

Washington’s plans to expand its missile-defense shield to central Europe would involve the positioning of a tracking radar in the Czech Republic, and a launching-pad for ten interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland. At the summit, NATO countries are expected to fully back the planned U.S. anti-missile defence system in Europe and announce that it will be integrated into a future system of joint NATO defence.

European Commission warns Czechs over river transport

The European Commission warned on Thursday that the Czech Republic may be sued over its failure to adopt the EU river transport information system. The Czech Republic failed to incorporate European rules of river transport into Czech law to form a joint information system on river transport by the end of last October. The system is aimed at improving the safety, reliability, and effectiveness of river transport within the European Union and at raising its competitiveness. The European Commission will now send the Czech Republic a reasoned opinion, which is the second step in informing member states they are breaching EU legislation.

In related news, the European Commission issued a similar warning to the Czech Republic over the country’s failure to unite Czech law with EU legislation concerning recognition of doctors’ and dentists’ qualifications from other EU member states.

Finance Minister proposes “super tax”

Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has come up with a plan to simplify the collection of taxes, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Thursday. The plan proposes to merge tax and social insurance payments into a single tax which would be deducted from the so-called “super-gross” salary; that is, the employee’s gross salary together with compulsory social security payments by the employer. Under the current tax rates, the new “super tax” would amount to 40.2 percent of individual salaries. Mr Kalousek said the new system would make tax payments easier for both tax payers and tax collectors. The Czech Finance Minister is also considering including compulsory health insurance payments into the new tax.

Companies emitted less CO2 in 2007

Czech companies emitted less CO2 in 2007 than they were permitted by the emission quotas allocated by the European Commission. Last year, Czech industries emitted 77.7 million tons of carbon dioxide, which was 7.1 million tons less than allowed by the European Commission. They can now sell the surplus carbon dioxide credits, making an estimated profit of more than 3.5 billion crowns, or over 216 million U.S. dollars. Despite dropping levels of CO2 emissions in the Czech Republic in recent years, the European Commission will allocate Czech companies even more carbon dioxide emissions credits between 2008 and 2012.

Poll: Czechs split over Kosovo

Czechs are divided in their views on the independence of the former Serbian province of Kosovo, a poll carried out by the CVVM agency suggested on Thursday. 36 percent of Czech citizens do not agree with Kosovo’s unilaterally declared independence while 34 percent believe the contrary. Some 30 percent of Czechs do not have any opinion on the matter. The Czech Foreign Ministry proposed earlier this week the Czech Republic recognize independent Kosovo but the government postponed its decision on the matter.

Czech FA to suggest football games without visiting fans

The Czech Football Association might recommend the country’s top division football clubs to hold games without fans of visiting sides as one in a series of measures to curb football-related violence. The proposal comes in the wake of disturbances on Monday during a match between two Prague-based football teams; 26 people were arrested for hooliganism as a result.

Media to face fines for drastic photos

Czech media may in the future face fines for running drastic photos. The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a Czech tabloid paper which printed in 2006 a picture of a young man who died in a car crash had to pay 100,000 crowns, or more than 6,200 U.S. dollars, to his family. The court said that the publication of such photos interferes with the family’s privacy.

New Zealander will be charged with kidnapping

Rodney William Cowie, a 48-year-old New Zealander, will face criminal charges in the Czech Republic for taking his six-year-old daughter illegally to Australia. The child had been placed in the custody of her Czech mother by an Australian court; Mr Cowie failed on Saturday to return his daughter to her mother after a day they spent together; instead they boarded an Australia-bound flight at Frankfurt, Germany. The Czech police will ask Interpol and authorities in Australia and New Zealand for cooperation.

New book out on 1968 events in Brno

Former Czechoslovak TV journalist Ludmila Sýkorová has published a book on the events that took place in Brno during the 1968 Soviet-led invasion. Ms Jankovcová said she attempted an objective approach to the events any compensation were shot dead by the Soviet troops in Brno on August 21, the first day of the occupation, while many more suffered injuries inflicted by the occupation forces.

Shop assistant talks a masked villain out of robbery

An assistant in a food shop in Český Těšín in Silesia talked a robber wearing a Spiderman mask out of robbing her shop on Wednesday, the news website idnes.cz reported. A man masked as Spiderman arrived in the shop in the afternoon holding a small gun, and asked for money. The assistant started talking to him; after a while the man left saying he would “pop in another time”. The robber is sought after by the police; he is facing up to ten years in prison.

Weather

The end of the week will see cloudy skies with occasional rain showers. Highest day temperatures are expected to range between 5 and 9 degrees centigrade.