Politicians from various parties told Czech Television on Sunday that the current racial discord in Northern Bohemia could be helped a central register of offences. Speaking on a debate programme, Civic Democrat Miroslava Němcová, Public Affairs’ Karolína Peake and Social Democrat deputy chairwoman Marie Benešová agreed that the measure would only be a partial step. Ms Peake raised other measures, such as increasing the strictness of hygienic norms and restricting the purchase of coloured metals, assumedly in an effort to dissuade non-adaptive residents from living there. Ms Němcová confirmed that Prime Minister Nečas is to visit the region this coming week.
Government representatives will be holding a special tripartite meeting with employers and union reps on Tuesday to discuss the state budget for next year. Labour Minister Jaromír Drábek announced the meeting on TV Prima on Sunday and said that comments on the budget would be discussed and considered so that the government can vote on it on Wednesday. The government has only two weeks left to submit a budget proposal to Parliament. Talks have thus far been marked by disputes between the government and the employers.
Police checked more than 9000 foreigners during the weekend in a crackdown on illegal aliens. More than 500 infractions were uncovered as were ten crimes; 29 persons sought nationwide were arrested, mostly people who were supposed to have reported for prison terms for property crimes. The crackdown involved nearly a thousand police officers from all over the country and 28 people were deported.
Reactor number one at Temelín Nuclear Power Station was brought back online on Sunday after a planned shutdown. The unit is currently running at 80% and will reach full power in the middle of the week. The reactor was taken offline primarily so as to exchange a fourth of the fuel for units from the Russian company TVEL, which began a ten-year contract for Temelín last year. Three CASTOR containers carrying spent fuel were removed. Roughly a thousand employees of ČEZ and some 50 subcontractor companies took part in the suspension.
The south-western leg of the new Prague ring road has made over a quarter of a billion crowns in cargo tolls since opening last September. Some ten thousand cargo vehicles use the 23km section every day, or three million since it was opened last year. The road connects the Prague-Brno D1 motorway with the D5 to Plzeň and was intended to relieve traffic elsewhere on the city’s outskirts.
The Justice Ministry is requesting about 2.6 billion crowns for wage increases over the next three years. The gradual rises are intended for employees of courts and state prosecutors’ offices, who the ministry says receive considerably less than other state employees. The ministry’s report for last year shows that workers in the sector received around 19,500 crowns a month, or 4.500 less than average state employees, despite the fact that the positions in question often require special qualifications.
The Royal Air Force Museum in London is honouring Czechoslovak and Polish involvement in the Battle of Britain with a new exhibition. ‘Brother’s in Arms’ salutes the dispossessed Polish and Czechoslovak pilots of WWII, who the museum says were arguably the RAF’s most prolific and successful pilots in the campaign. Drawings, archive film footage and sculptures are on display to recall individuals such as fighter pilot Josef František and the men of 303 Squadron. Another section covers the fate of the Czechoslovak and Polish RAF pilots who were persecuted by the Communist regime upon returning home.
Yet another demonstration took place on Saturday in the North Bohemian town of Varnsdorf, where racial tensions have been running high for a number of weeks. Police dispatched several hundred riot officers to counter a similar number of protesters, among them members of the extreme-right Workers’ Party for Social Justice, the successor of the banned neo-Nazi Workers’ Party. The protesters were blocked from marching on an area inhabited predominantly by Roma and then dispersed. The demonstration was the seventh to be held in the area this month. Last week a protest attended by some 1,000 people turned violent as extremists attacked riot police with bottles and stones. Thirty-seven people were arrested and six injured.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has cited previous ‘overly generous’ social policies as one of the causes of racial tensions in the area of Varnsdorf. Speaking at a conference of Civic Democrat mayors in Brno., the prime minister said that it continues to be more comfortable for many people to accept social welfare rather than take up legal employment. The main priority of the state, he said, is to ensure people’s security and protect their property. Mr Nečas will apparently be visiting the area next week.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has left for the United States, where he will be attending the UN General Assembly meeting in New York and an economic forum in Florida. The Czech delegation to the General Assembly meeting will be led by President Václav Klaus, who will arrive in the US on Monday. The meeting is expected to vote on a Palestinian motion for full UN membership, something the Czech government has indicated it may vote against. Mr Schwarzenberg has said that the Czech position on the matter would depend on the final wording of the resolution. The foreign minister will then be taking part in a conference on nuclear energy convened by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, followed by a meeting of EU ministers with American and Russian officials.
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