Franz Ulrich Kinsky says he wants to take property disputes against the Czech state to the courts in another European Union country, after years of failure in the Czech courts to win back for property confiscated from his aristocratic family after World War II. Mr Kinsky has made over 150 property claims in the Czech Republic. The Czech authorities say his father was a Nazi sympathiser, a suggestion strenuously denied by Mr Kinsky.
A new opinion poll suggests the governing Social Democrats are slowly
winning back support, after hitting a low-point earlier in the year. In a
poll by Factum Invenio this month, almost 23 percent of respondents said
they would vote Social Democrat. Meanwhile, the right-of-centre Civic
Democrats remain ahead in the polls, with 34 percent. Third are the
Communists, with just under 20 percent.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Thursday he did not want to take polls too seriously, but said he believed the Social Democrats would form the next government. Elections are set for June next year.
The structure of the growth of the Czech economy has changed significantly in the last couple of years, the governor of the Czech National Bank, Zdenek Tuma, said on Thursday. Household consumption has slowed as exports have become the main driving force of growth, he said. Mr Tuma also said the Czech Republic must intensify preparations to adopt the euro - otherwise it will not meet its stated target of joining in 2009 or 2010.
Almost one and a half million school pupils around the Czech Republic began their summer holidays on Thursday afternoon. Their two-month break ends on September 1st. As every year, psychologists have warned of the dangers of parents being excessively critical of their children's end-of-term grades, and help lines for worried kids have been advertised.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament (Chamber of Deputies) passed a law that bans smoking in some public places. If approved by the upper house (Senate) and signed by the president, smoking will be banned in public administration buildings, schools, cinemas, sports halls, and tram and bus stops. However, Christian Democrat deputy Josef Janecek says the law is "a victory for the tobacco lobby" as it fails to introduce a total ban on smoking in theatres, restaurants and bars, and workplaces. These places have the option of installing non-smoking areas if they want to avoid a complete ban. The law also restricts cigarette sales from January 1 next year. Cigarette sales from vending machines are banned and the shops allowed to sell cigarettes will be restricted to mainly tobacco shops and supermarkets.
Tests have confirmed the Czech Republic's 20th case of BSE, or mad cow disease. The State Veterinary Authority reported on Wednesday that the infected cow was from a herd close to the North Bohemian town of Liberec. Over one hundred cows will have to be slaughtered as a precautionary measure. Since 2001, when the first case of BSE was recorded, some 800,000 cows have been tested and 3,500 cows have been slaughtered as a precaution.
Britain's Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott held talks with the Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda during a brief visit to Prague on Wednesday. The ailing EU budget for 2007-2013 and the need for a re-evaluation of spending priorities were the main topics of discussion. All three politicians also agreed that the European integration and enlargement processes must continue despite the rejections of the EU constitution by France and the Netherlands. Britain takes over the EU presidency from Luxembourg this Friday.
The lower house has also approved a bill enabling referendums to be held on a range of issues including the EU constitution. The bill that amends the constitution states the president must call a referendum if it is requested by the government, a group of at least 80 of the 200 lower house deputies, or 33 of the 88 senators, or by a petition backed by at least 300,000 citizens. The right-of-centre opposition Civic Democrats voted against the bill in the lower house and will most likely block it in the upper house (Senate), where they hold enough seats to reject new constitutional laws and amendments.