News

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Czech MPs reject an Austrian call for dialogue over Benes decrees

Czech MPs rejected on Wednesday an invitation by Austrian politicians addressed to the Czech and Slovak parliaments for dialogue over the post-war decrees issued by Czechoslovak President Edvard Benes. According to the leaders of Austrian political parties, with the exception of Austrian Greens, the expulsion and expropriation of Sudeten Germans after the Second World War was wrong. Miroslav Vlcek, the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, said that Czech politicians consider of the Benes decrees a closed issue.

The presidential decrees were the legal bases for the expulsion of about three million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War.

IMF: Czech economy in 2008 to grow by 4.6 percent

The International Monetary Fund reported on Wednesday that according to its estimates, Czech economy should grow by 4.6 percent next year. The growth rate is 0.3 percent higher than the last estimate published by the IMF earlier this year. Among other Central European countries, the Czech Republic ranks third behind Slovakia and Poland. The IMF attributes the higher growth estimates to the adoption of fiscal reforms in several countries in the region as well as the fact that impact of the US mortgage market crisis at Central European economies will remain limited.

Milan Kundera to receive State Award Literature for Literature 2007

Czech writer Milan Kundera, who has been living in Paris since leaving Czechoslovakia in 1975, will be awarded the State Award for Literature for 2007, according to the Society of Czech Writers. Mr Kunder is internationally renowned as the author of novels The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The Joke, and others. He is not expected to personally attend the awarding ceremony that will take place in Prague on 25th October. The State Award for Literature was established in 1920 and renewed in 1995. It is awarded for an exceptional work published within the last year, or for life-long contribution to literature.

Constitutional Court: surveillance of restitution lawyer illegal

The Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the surveillance of lawyer Jaroslav Capka, who represented Frantisek Oldrich Kinsky in several property restitution causes, was illegal and unsubstantiated. In 2004, a court in Prague approved interception of Mr Capka's telephone because of fraud suspicions. Within the Czech legal system, however, it is illegal to intercept phone calls between attorneys and their clients.

The family property of Frantisek Oldrich Kinsky was confiscated after the Second World War on the bases of the Benes decrees. In 1990, Mr Kinsky filed many lawsuits against the confiscation; most the cases have not been yet resolved.

Czech Republic pulled out of vote for place on UN Security Council

The Czech Republic withdrew its candidature for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council after failing to secure sufficient backing in a vote on Tuesday. The Czech Republic had been in direct competition with Croatia for a two-year stint on the Security Council due to begin in 2009. In a first round of voting in New York, the Czech Republic received 91 out of 186 votes, while Croatia got 95 - both falling short of the necessary two-thirds majority. When the result of the second round was also unfavourable the Czech Republic pulled out. At a debate at the Czech Parliament on Wednesday, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg assumed responsibility for the failure.

Foreign investment in the Czech Republic down by 50 percent in 2006

The inflow of direct foreign investment into the Czech Republic in 2006 dropped by 50 percent compared to the previous year, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. In 2006, the country attracted 115.9 billion crowns, or 5.96 billion US dollars. According to the Czech Industry and Trade Ministry, the sharp year-on-year decrease in foreign investment was caused by the fact that in 2005, Czech Telecom was privatised which accounted for 82.6 billion crowns worth of investment. In 2006, the Czech Republic ranks 14th among the 25 EU member states

PM Topolanek says government will not fund new National Library building

The Czech Government will not fund the construction of a controversial new National Library building, according to Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. He said that the new National Library building was not among the government's priorities. They were, said Mr Topolanek, the renovation of the National Museum buildings on Prague's Wenceslas Square as well as the Clementinum, a complex of Baroque buildings currently housing the National Library.

The planned new National Library building, also known as "the blob" is a futuristic structure designed by Czech-born London-based architect Jan Kaplicky. It was originally to be constructed on Prague's Letna Plain, but the plans have been increasingly opposed by some prominent Czech politicians, including President Vaclav Klaus and Prague Mayor Pavel Bem.

Chamber of Deputies debates state budget draft for 2008

The Chamber of Deputies began on Wednesday debating the state budget draft for 2008, the first state budget after the adoption of the fiscal reform package by the Parliament. The deficit for 2008 is expected to reach some 71 billion crowns, or 3.6 billion US dollars. The government expects that the Czech Republic will be more successful in drawing money from EU funds; in 2008, the country should receive some 76 billion crowns from the European Union.

Czech Republic and Iran to upgrade diplomatic missions

After a meeting with the head of the foreign committee of the Iranian Parliament Aleaddin Borujerdi, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the diplomatic missions of both countries should be upgraded. As of now, the Czech mission in Tehran as well as the Iranian mission in Prague are headed by charge d'affaires. If the Iranian government and parliament approve of the change, the countries will be represented by ambassadors.

Czech Press Photo 2007 goes to a picture showing child custody battle

Czech photographer Dan Materna for the daily Mlada fronta Dnes was named on Wednesday the winner of the main prize at this year's Czech Press Photo. Mr Materna's photo, part of a series capturing an emotional child custody battle in the Czech Republic, was first published in January, showing a physical tug-of-war between a Czech mother and Portuguese father over their six-year-old child. Other photos awarded will be exhibited in Prague next month.

Weather

The skies are expected to be mostly overcast over the next several days with occasional rain showers. The temperatures should range between 8 to 12 degrees Celsius on Thursday before dropping to 7 to 10 degrees towards the end of the week.