News

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US proposals on missile defense “fall short”, according to unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry official

Russian news agency ITAR-Tass has quoted a statement by an unidentified official at the Russian Foreign Ministry as saying that US proposals for broader cooperation on missile defense fall short of real cooperation. Proposals bringing Russia in on missile defense, were put forward by the US this week. As part of its plans, the US is hoping to deploy radar and rocket installations in the Czech Republic and Poland, respectively. Moscow remains highly critical of the US missile shield proposal, suggesting the system would be a threat to Russia’s security. Russia has also made clear it will suspend participation in the CFE Treaty (the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe) in December as a result.

Cunek to make public full details of state attorney’s decision

The head of the Christian Democratic Party, Jiri Cunek, has said that in the interests of transparency he will make public all details of a decision this week by state attorney Arif Salichov to drop an investigation against him. But he has said, he will need to receive agreement from other parties in the case beforehand. Mr Cunek was suspected of having accepted a 500,000 crown bribe at a time he was mayor of the town of Vsetin in north Moravia. State attorney Arif Salichov halted proceedings against Mr Cunek twice on the grounds there was no evidence to confirm illicit dealing. The second decision has now also been checked and upheld by the Supreme State Attorney’s Office.

Jiri Cunek resigned as deputy prime minister as well as minister for local development after the case was reopened.

Czech and German police to create joint Schengen centres

Czech and German police will establish two centres in mid-December in connection with the Czech Republic's entry to the Schengen area. Interior Minister Ivan Langer and German counterpart Wolfang Schaeuble revealed the information on Friday. The centres will be formed in Petrovice, north Bohemia, and Schwandorf, Bavaria. Checks at the Czech-German border will be lifted in almost four weeks’ time, which will require a new method of police checks at border areas as well as cross-border cooperation.. Ivan Langer revealed that Czech police will have ten officers in Petrovice and five at Schwandorf. The centres will focus on the exchange of information within the Schengen Information System. Regular border checks are to be lifted as of December 21st.

Two Green Party MPs hesitant over whether to back budget bill for 2008

Two deputies from government member the Green Party have suggested they might not support the 2008 state budget bill in the upcoming final vote. The two are Olga Zubova and Vera Jakubkova; Mrs Zubova has stated that - in her and her colleague’s opinion - the budget as proposed provides insufficient support for the education sector. She also said it did not reflect Green Party priorities in the transport sector. The MP added she would also consider whether or not to support the centre-right government led by Mirek Topolanek in a no confidence vote which the opposition is planning to call.

Aero Vodochody delivers modified fighters to military

Deputy Defence Minister Martin Bartak has revealed that the Czech Air Force has received four L-159 fighters from aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody. The planes were rebuilt for two crew members as opposed to one, to be used for training military pilots. The modifications cost around 400 million crowns (the equivalent of around 22 million US dollars). The adjusted fighter jets come from a set of 72 planes that the military previously ordered. The Czech Air Force is now using only 24 of the models and trying to sell the rest. Possible buyers are said to include Indonesia and Vietnam.

Finance ministry selects consultants for airport

The Czech finance ministry has announced that it has selected Credit Suisse Securities as its consultant for the first phase of the privatisation of Prague’s state-controlled international airport, Prague-Ruzyne. Ministry spokesman Ondrej Jakob said that cost and references were principle criteria for the choice. According to the spokesman, the first phase of the airport's privatisation should also determine how much of the busiest airport in Central Europe to sell off and how the sale should proceed. Another consultant responsible for selecting a strategic investor for the airport, expected to take place during the second half of 2008, will be chosen later, he added. A series of major construction and airport companies are interested in the sale, which could raise up to 100 billion crowns (the equivalent of around 5.5 billion US dollars).

Czech carrier to cut Canada flights following poor figures

The Czech carrier CSA announced Friday that it will dramatically cut its flights to Canada because of low passenger numbers. CSA will end flights between Prague and Montreal from the start of 2008 and three weekly flights only will be scheduled between the Czech capital and Toronto between June and October, the period of peak demand, the airline said in a news release. During the winter months, flights to Canada have only been around 55 percent full. CSA announced in November that it made a net profit of 563 million crowns (the equivalent of almost 836 million dollars) during the first nine months of the year, turning round a series of losses during the previous three years.

Agency: Czechs to spend more than 1 bn crowns towards pre-paid vacations as Christmas gifts

A study by the Mag Consulting agency has estimated that Czechs will spend around 1.5 billion crowns (the equivalent of roughly 83 million US dollars) towards pre-paid vacations this year as Christmas gifts. That would mean a 25 percent increase from 2006. At least one travel agency has cited a 100 percent increase in interest in so-called Christmas cheques towards vacations, valued in the thousands of crowns, as well as increased interest in full vacation packages, worth tens of thousands.

Poll: opposition Social Democrats more popular than Civic Democrats by wide margin

The newest poll published by the CVVM agency has suggested that if a national election were held today it would be won by the Social Democratic Party. According to the survey, the party’s popularity continues to stand at 36 percent, followed by the ruling Civic Democrats at 29, down six percent since June. The Communist Party would receive 16 percent – a one percent rise - followed by the Greens at 10.5, and the Christian Democrats at 5.5. CVVM’s survey takes into consideration only respondents who say they would actually come to the polling stations. It does not include undecided voters and those who would not cast their ballot.

Czech national football team 6th place in FIFA rankings

The Czech national football squad has climbed from 9th to 6th place in FIFA rankings after a successful final run in Euro 2008 qualifying. Most recently the team beat Slovakia and Cyprus. The Czech squad is 4th among all European teams, after Italy, Spain, and Germany. The rise in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings means the country will be included in the first basket in the upcoming group assignment draw for the 2010 World Cup. The draw is set to take place in South Africa on Sunday.

Weather

Much of the weekend should see overcast conditions. Daytime temperatures are expected to range between 0 and 7 degrees Celsius.