News

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EU Commission approves dumping duties on Chinese and Vietnamese shoes

The European Commission has formally approved the introduction of provisional anti-dumping duties on leather shoes imported from China and Vietnam. As of April 7, Brussels will impose duties of 16.8 percent on shoes from Vietnam and 19.4 percent from China to be phased in over a period of five months. Sports shoes and footwear for children will be exempted from the duties. Czech footwear producers, though, are doubtful that these measures will help reduce their profit losses caused by cheap imports from Asia.

Parliamentary commission to investigate circumstances around counter-intelligence report

A parliamentary commission is planning to investigate why two former Social Democrat prime ministers ignored a warning by the counter intelligence service regarding manipulation with data at the National Security Office. The report allegedly contained information indicating that people who worked with classified information traded in it. It also cast doubt on the reliability of security screenings issued to public officials. The commission intends to ask the former prime ministers Milos Zeman and Vladimir Spidla why they failed to take appropriate action.

Prime Minister Paroubek proposes changes to EU summit draft resolution

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek proposed changes to an EU summit draft resolution in a letter to Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel on Thursday. Austria currently holds the presidency of the European Union. Mr Paroubek would like further discussion on some passages on the liberalization of services and the establishment of a European Institute of Technology. He also questioned the extent to which some of the economic and social goals expressed in the resolution can be realised.

Experts point to alarming decrease in dentists

The Czech Republic could face a serious lack of dentists in the coming years, experts from Charles University's teaching hospital in Prague warned on Thursday. The number of students interested in dentistry is high but schools cannot afford the technical equipment necessary to offer quality education programmes. The situation is especially alarming in the rural areas, where the average number of patients to a dentist is twice that in Prague.

Cesky Telecom gets 80 million crown fine

The Czech competition office has slapped Cesky Telecom, the country's main fixed line operator, with an 80 million crown fine (2.8 million euros) fine for abuse of its dominant positron on the market. The competition office ruled that Cesky Telecom had broken Czech competition rules by making public its Internet access and high speed ADSL connection tariffs to final customers and alternative operators at the same time. This, the office judged, did not give alternative operators enough time to weigh up the offer and conclude separate contracts with final users. Telecom said Wednesday it would continue to seek legal means of challenging the fine.

Police arrest Chinese gang of people smugglers

Police say they have clamped down on a gang suspected of smuggling people from China to western Europe via the Czech Republic. The four Chinese nationals were arrested in a villa near Prague, where the illegal migrants were hidden from the authorities, often under inhumane conditions. The migrants paid 12,500 US dollars each to be transported to the Czech Republic through Russia, Ukraine and then Slovakia.

Meanwhile, police say the number of illegal migrants caught along the Czech-German border has dropped significantly. In 2005, some 1,200 people were detained by the Czech police along the 810 km border with Germany, which was half the number of people caught the year before.

President Klaus stresses importance of free movement of labour force

On a visit to Switzerland, President Vaclav Klaus emphasized the importance of free movement of labour. The Czech president said this was of "symbolic importance" to people from the former communist block who had not been able to travel freely for four decades. During talks with Swiss government officials Mr. Klaus ruled out the possibility that a vast number of Czechs would settle down in Switzerland in reaction to the opening of the Swiss labour market.

Czech delegation hopes to conclude agreement on mutual legal assistance with Qatar

The Czech Republic hopes to conclude a mutual legal assistance agreement with Qatar. A delegation of experts and foreign and justice ministry representatives is scheduled to leave for the Arab country within the next two weeks. The mission also includes a bilateral agreement on the extradition of residents who are either charged with or sentenced for a crime.

Dismissed policeman goes on hunger strike

A man who had to leave the police force eight years ago has gone on a hunger strike in protest at his dismissal. The man was fired on suspicion of accepting bribes but freed of all charges by a court. His request to rejoin the police was denied by the interior ministry. The deputy speaker of the lower house of Parliament, Ivan Langer, has now asked for the case to be reinvestigated.

Museum of Music opens new exhibition

The Czech Museum of Music opened a new exhibition on Thursday called Music in Prague between 1760 and 1810. The exhibition reflects on the works and lives of leading musicians who lived in Prague at the time. Selected audio presentations, instruments, manuscripts, and popular venues like theatres, churches, and palaces are also featured. Visitors are also introduced to the Prague that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart encountered in the eighteenth century. The exhibition runs until September 9.

Weather

The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy with day temperatures between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.