• 12/03/2002

    Britain has deported another 39 Czech citizens after rejecting their requests for asylum. The group, all believed to be members of the Roma minority, was the seventh to arrive in Prague since Britain began deporting Czech asylum seekers in September. The British authorities say all asylum requests by Czech Roma will be turned down because the Czech government does not persecute its citizens. The Roma say they suffer discrimination and are frequently attacked by far-right skinheads.

    Author: Rob Cameron
  • 12/02/2002

    During its session on Monday, the Czech government decided to raise the minimum monthly wage by 500 Czech crowns to 6,200 crowns as of January next year. The minimum wage was introduced in 1991 when it was set at 2,000 Czech crowns. In the Czech Republic it is less than 40 per cent of the average wage. Whilst some economists have warned that a higher minimum wage could lower labour productivity and increase unemployment, trade unions have welcomed the rise, arguing that it would force employers to utilise their workforce more efficiently.

    Author: Dita Asiedu
  • 12/02/2002

    Czech farmers are planning to stage another demonstration in Prague in protest at conditions set by the European Union for farmers from candidate countries. Speaking to journalists on Monday, the head of the Czech Agricultural Chamber, Vaclav Hlavacek, said that between 5,000 to 10,000 farmers are expected to flock to the Czech capital to gather in front of the Agriculture Ministry and head for the seat of the European Commission's delegation. According to Mr Hlavacek, talks on the "agriculture" chapter with the EU are unsatisfactory as farmers need a full volume of direct payments in order to be able to compete on the EU market. EU officials, on the other hand, stress that farmers of the candidate countries, including the Czech Republic, would not be worse off after EU membership than they were before.

    Author: Dita Asiedu
  • 12/01/2002

    Former Prime Minister Milos Zeman has been speaking to reporters after emerging as the clear winner of the so-called “party referendum”, organised by the senior coalition Social Democrats to choose a presidential candidate. The poll suggested that Mr Zeman - seen as representing the party's old guard - was the most popular candidate among Social Democrat supporters. This has been an embarrassment to the party leadership, who hoped the poll would endorse their preferred candidate, the country's ombudsman Otakar Motejl. Mr Zeman repeated on Sunday that he would only stand in the second round of the presidential election, posing more problems for the Social Democrats, who want to field a candidate in the first round.

    Author: Rob Cameron
  • 12/01/2002

    Meanwhile Mr Motejl has said he still wants to stand in the election, despite his poor showing in the poll. The popular ombudsman came third, behind Mr Zeman and also outsider Jaroslav Bures. However Mr Motejl remains highly popular among the general public, and observers say he is the only candidate who enjoys sufficient cross-party support in parliament to be elected. The Social Democrats have until December 7th to choose a candidate. The election itself takes place on January 15th in a joint session of the upper and lower house. President Vaclav Havel steps down on February 2nd after 13 years in the post.

    Author: Rob Cameron
  • 12/01/2002

    Austrian protestors staged a brief blockade of a border crossing on Saturday in protest at the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power plant. A group of around 20 anti-nuclear activists blocked the Gmund border crossing for around 30 minutes before dispersing. There were no arrests. The blockade was organised by Austria's Stop Temelin group, who said they wanted the Austrian government to do more to oppose the use of nuclear power in neighbouring countries. There has been tension between Austria and the Czech Republic over Temelin, although relations have improved considerably in recent months.

    Author: Rob Cameron
  • 11/30/2002

    Austrian protestors staged a brief blockade of a border crossing on Saturday in protest at the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power plant. A group of around 20 anti-nuclear activists blocked the Gmund border crossing for around 30 minutes before dispersing. There were no arrests. The blockade was organised by Austria's Stop Temelin group, who said they wanted the Austrian government to do more to oppose the use of nuclear power in neighbouring countries. There has been tension between Austria and the Czech Republic over Temelin, although relations have improved considerably in recent months.

    Author: Rob Cameron
  • 11/30/2002

    The country's ombudsman Otakar Motejl has said he still wants to stand as a candidate for the senior coalition Social Democrats in the upcoming presidential elections, despite a so-called “party referendum” suggesting that former Prime Minister Milos Zeman is far more popular among both party members and the public. The Social Democrat leadership has until December 7th to choose a candidate for president. It was hoped the “party referendum” would endorse Mr Motejl as the most popular choice, and marginalise Mr Zeman, who is seen as representing the old guard. However Mr Zeman emerged as the clear winner of the poll, and Mr Motejl came third.

    Author: Rob Cameron
  • 11/29/2002

    The Czech Republic will not meet its goal to place the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in full operation by the end of the year. According to the state run power utility CEZ technical setbacks have forced it to postpone the launching of full operation by three months. The plant has been at the centre of controversy since its start up in October 2000. Nuclear opponents in Austria and Germany claim it is unsafe and want to see it scrapped. The Czech government maintains that the plant fully adheres to international nuclear safety norms.

  • 11/29/2002

    A public referendum on who should be the Social Democratic Party's candidate in the upcoming presidential elections has swung in favour of the former Prime Minister Milos Zeman. Over 25,000 people took part in the referendum, which was open to the general public. Milos Zeman topped the list winning close to half of the votes. The former justice minister Jaroslav Bures came second, followed by the Ombudsman Otakar Motejl. Although the Social Democrats said they would abide by public opinion, there is now controversy within the party over whether Milos Zeman would make a suitable presidential candidate. The party leadership is to vote on the matter within the next few days.

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