News

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Government delegation leaves for Seoul

A Czech government delegation has left for South Korea to sign a contract with Hyundai on the construction of the company's new car plant in Nosovice, Moravia in the eastern part of the Czech Republic. The signing ceremony is expected to go ahead despite reports that Hyundai may have to put off the start of construction work due to an investigation into corruption allegations against senior representatives of the company. But, Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban, who heads the delegation, has said that Hyundai officials have assured him that construction work will start on schedule.

Cabinet approves subsidy for NATO mission in Iraq

The cabinet has approved a 1.4 million crown (64,000 US dollars) subsidy for NATO's training mission in Iraq - the Czech Republic also provided a subsidy for the mission last year. At its summit in Istanbul two years ago NATO chose to establish a military training academy near Baghdad: Germany, the Netherlands and the US are the main contributors. Five Czech military instructors are part of that mission, while the largest part of the Czech contingent operates on the British base Shaiba in northern Iraq. About 100 Czech military policemen train local officers there.

Czech Deputy PM welcomes decision on EU 2007-13 budget

The Czech Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy, Jiri Havel, has welcomed the European Parliament's passing the EU budget for 2007 - 2013 on Wednesday, allowing new EU member states, including the Czech Republic, to draw more money from the EU coffers. He said it was a "significant impulse" for the Czech economy. Most Czech Euro MPs supported the budget in the vote, which passed with overall support of 440 to 190, with 14 abstaining. The seven-year budget amounts to 864.3 billion euros, plus an additional 2 billion euros, 1.05 percent of the union's GDP.

TVEL wins tender on nuclear fuel for Temelin

The Czech power utility CEZ has signed a contract with Russia's TVEL, after the corporation was chosen following a year-long international tender. From 2010 to 2020 TVEL will supply some 400 tonnes of fuel for two reactors at South Bohemia's Temelin nuclear power plant. The current supplier is Westinghouse. The contract awarded this week is worth an estimated several billion Czech crowns.

Wilhelm appointed commissioner for European research

The former rector of Prague's Charles University, Ivan Wilhelm, has been appointed the new government commissioner for European research. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. As commissioner, it will be Mr Wilhelm's task to coordinate research activities and oversee their inclusion in EU projects. He will also cooperate, for example, on proposals like Europroject Terezin - aimed at seeing Terezin become home to a centre on Holocaust Studies, involving cooperation by other European universities.

The new commissioner is to take up his post at the beginning of June.

More funds for research

The Education Ministry will be able to divide up to the equivalent of 110 billion crowns - or 4 billion euros (roughly 5 billion US dollars) - from EU funds mainly on development and research in 2007-13 according to Education Minister Petra Buzkova. Of the total more than 70 billion crowns is to be destined directly for science and research, and mainly for the development of institutions that do research applicable in practice. The position of Czech science is not as well off compared to other European states. The Czech Republic now supports research and development with about 1.3 percent of the GDP while the share is twice that on average in other advanced countries.

Flood damages in agriculture, forestry sectors assessed at 300 million crowns

Damages from floods earlier this year have been assessed at 300 million crowns - the equivalent of around 13 million US dollars - in the agriculture and forestry sectors. According to the Agriculture Ministry floods in late March and early April damaged thousands of hectares of fertile land, damaging a number of crops. Wheat, barley crops were among the hardest hit, as well as some orchards. Fish farms also suffered some 51 million crowns in damages.

First regions to go fully digital in 2007

A number of regions in the Czech Republic will be the first to move from analogue to digital broadcasting next year. But, analogue broadcasts in the area will only be fully cut following an extensive information campaign. According to a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Information Technology, analogue broadcasting throughout the Czech Republic should wrap up by 2010 - although the final date set by the European Union is 2012. The ministry has not revealed which regions will be the first affected. The Czech Telecommunications Office will take a decision on the matter later this year.

Hockey: Hnilicka suffering back problems ahead of quarterfinal

Ice hockey goaltender Milan Hnilicka did not take part in a practice session on Wednesday following a back muscle pull during a qualifying match against the United States at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Riga. Despite losing 3:1 on Tuesday the Czechs qualified for the knock-out round. They next face Russia. Hnilicka has said that he hopes to be ready for the game which takes place on Thursday. If not, the post in goal will be taken by back-up Adam Svoboda.

Football: Czech Republic 2nd in FIFA rankings ahead of World Cup

The Czech Republic's national football squad will head to next month's World Cup in Germany in 2nd place in FIFA rankings - behind leaders Brazil and just ahead of 3rd place the Netherlands. The rankings system takes into account not only squad results but also match importance, goals scored and a number of other factors. Despite the Czechs' high ranking this year's World Cup will be the first they have taken part in since 1990. The Czechs have fared well on the European level: at Euro 1996 and 2004, coming in silver and bronze, respectively.

Sionko headed to Rangers

Czech footballer Libor Sionko has agreed a three-year contract with Glasgow Rangers, after leaving Austria Vienna on a free transfer. The former Sparta Prague player has 17 international caps; he is on standby for the Czech Republic's World Cup squad and may yet be called up if another player drops out.

Weather

Thursday is expected to be overcast with sunny intervals and daytime highs of up to 23 degrees Celsius.