News

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Schengen zone will not open to new EU ten in 2007

Plans to expand the Schengen zone to include the Czech Republic and the other nine states which joined the EU two years ago will definitely not be fulfilled in 2007. A spokesman for the European Commission confirmed the news in Brussels on Monday, saying that technical difficulties with establishing a central database are to blame for the delay. The Schengen Information System II will store biometric data, including digital files and finger prints, but the database is experiencing difficulties that will stall its implementation. EU foreign ministers are due to discuss the issue at their October meeting. The EU Commission expects that borders should be opened to the newest members in October 2008 or later - not October 2007 as originally planned.

Swiss court rules against Czech appeal in Nomura case

The Swiss federal high court has ruled against the Czech Republic's appeal of a March arbitration ruling that decided in favour of the Japanese company, Nomura. Earlier this year arbitration proceedings ruled that the Czech Republic faces a fine of up to 40 billion crowns (over $1.7 billion US) for failing to adequately protect Nomura's investment in IPB, a Czech bank in which the Japanese group purchased 46% of shares in 1998. IPB went bankrupt in 2000, and was sold to another bank, CSOB, for a symbolic one crown.

Czech woman arrested in Ukraine over abduction of children

A Czech woman wanted for the abduction of her three children from Canada has been arrested by the Ukrainian branch of Interpol, Pravo reported on Monday. Romana Dittrichova, 38, disappeared with the children shortly before a court in Canada awarded custody to their Czech father Emil Dittrich. She was tracked down by Prague-based private investigators who informed Interpol of her whereabouts in Ukraine.

Vlasta Parkanova to lead Christian Democrats in the lower house

Vlasta Parkanova has been voted chair of the Christian Democratic parliamentary committee. She replaces Miroslav Kalousek, who resigned the post on Sunday. Deputy Christian Democrat leaders will be Tomas Kvapil and Michaela Sojdrova. The Christian Democrats have 13 seats in the lower house. Mr. Kalousek, the former chairman of the party was a key player in the post-June election negotiations, but he resigned his post in late August after pressure from within his own party, when members reacted negatively to his statement that the Christian Democrats would cooperate with the Social Democrats and accept support from the Communist Party.

New Finance Minister aims to reduce deficit and curtail Social Democratic budget proposal

The new Civic Democratic Finance Minister, Vlastimil Tlusty, has revealed that according to an audit proposal, next year's budget deficit should be set at somewhere between 101 and 127.6 billion crowns (up to $5.6 billion US). Mr. Tlusty said on Monday that the deficit of more than 88 billion crowns (nearly $4 billion US) approved by Jiri Paroubek's government goes against the rules of setting the state budget. Mr. Tlusty has called on all political parties in the lower house to begin talks immediately, to achieve agreement on the budget and avoid a high deficit. Mr. Tlusty also said that the Czech Republic will not enter into the ERM II system next year (which goes into effect before adoption of the Euro) due to the poor state of the country's public finances.

Former civil servants may face state prosecutor

Anti-corruption police have proposed that a state attorney bring charges against persons prosecuted for embezzling millions of crowns from European Union subsidies, Czech state attorney Boris Havel, head of the department for the protection of EU interests, told CTK today. Ten people, including former civil servants, are being prosecuted on suspicion of fraud and money laundering. The accused former civil servants are suspected of siphoning money from the Foundation for the Development of Regions, established in 1994 to help business development in the Czech Republic. The investigation is being monitored by the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF. The suspects face between five and 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Tomas Berdych climbs tennis world rankings

Tomas Berdych's quarterfinal appearance at the US Open has raised the Czech tennis player's ATP ranking to thirteenth. It is his best career standing ever.

Radek Stepanek remains the leading Czech men's singles player, ranked tenth in the world. Meanwhile, women's tennis teen star Nicole Vaidisova also maintains her world number ten ranking following the US Open.

Weather

It should remain mostly sunny over the next few days, with daytime highs reaching 27 degrees Celsius.