News

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Negotiators from three parties fail to agree on coalition government programme

Experts from the Civic Democratic, Social Democratic and Christian Democratic parties that are negotiating about the future government have identified several points on which their respective parties will not agree. Among those are personal income tax, payments for hospitalisation, the volume of social spending and a law on non-profit hospitals. The leaders of the three parties are to assess the contentious points and decide on the final version of the government's programme. Prime Minister designate, Mirek Topolanek, is to present the names of new cabinet ministers to President Vaclav Klaus later this week.

Number of foreign nationals reaches 2.5 percent of Czech population

According to a report by the Czech Statistical Office, the number of foreign nationals living in the Czech Republic reached 310,000 in September, which is around 2.5 percent of the country's total population. The office said the most foreigners live in the capital Prague but the numbers are rising across the country, with citizens of Ukraine being the most numerous community.

President Klaus continues African trip

President Vaclav Klaus will begin a two-day visit to South Africa on Tuesday, the first ever by a Czech head of state. He is set to meet President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria to discuss political and economic issues. South Africa is the Czech Republic's biggest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa - nearly 40 percent of its trade with the region takes place with South Africa. Later on Tuesday, President Klaus will speak at the opening of a South Africa-Czech Republic business forum in Pretoria.

Prague city hall to establish working group to tackle homeless issues

The Prague city hall is planning to establish a special working group involving doctors and social workers, to tackle issues connected to homeless people in the capital. The number of homeless persons in Prague is estimated at 6,000 and there is a shortage of beds available for them in winter months. A special boat on the Vltava River should serve as a dormitory for homeless people as of January and in the case of severe weather, a special tent city will be raised like last year.

Barrandov Studios open largest film studio in Europe

Prague's Barrandov Studios say they have opened the largest film studio in Europe. Construction work started this spring on an area of some 4,000 square metres and the final cost has reached 200 million crowns. The studios say it has been the biggest investment in the Czech film industry in the last sixty years. The first foreign production to be shot in the new studio will be the sequel to the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

Former President Havel calls on tourists to shun Cuba

Former Czech president and anti-communist dissident Vaclav Havel has urged tourists to shun Cuba as a holiday destination, in a video message showing solidarity with Cuban dissidents. The video shows the former president dressed in a prisoner's uniform, sitting in a make-believe waiting room amongst patients who are completely oblivious of him while Mr Havel recalls a personal experience of being taken, as a political prisoner, from his cell to a dentist's surgery in town where people in the waiting room pretended not to see him. Mr Havel's message was aired at a conference organised by Polish Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former president Lech Walesa, aimed at showing solidarity with dissidents in Cuba.

Prague stock exchange index at record high after CEZ surge

The Prague Stock Exhange's PX index set a new trading high point of 1623.9 points shortly before noon on Monday following a 0.76 percent advance during morning trading. The Czech electricity giant, CEZ, fuelled the rise, rising to a record high point of 1001.0 crowns. Analysts say other leading shares also rose as investors tried to fill their portfolios before the end of the year.

Weather

The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with daytime temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius.