The legendary Czech javelin thrower Jan Zelezny took bronze at the European Athletics Championships in Gothenburg on Wednesday. It was Zelezny's farewell to competitive sport: after an extremely successful career he is retiring at the age of 40. He wasn't the only Czech to reach the podium in Gothenburg - Tomas Janku came second in the men's high jump.
The outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek has indicated that he may run for the post of speaker of the lower house if a political agreement is reached with the other parliamentary parties. The election of a Social Democrat candidate to the post on a temporary basis is part of a compromise proposal made by President Vaclav Klaus this week which is aimed at breaking the deadlock in the lower chamber. Once the lower house has a new leadership the wheels will have been set in motion for the demise of the outgoing cabinet and the appointment of a prime minister designate. Six attempts to elect a new leadership have failed since elections at the start of June.
Prague's Ruzyne Airport has stepped up security in reaction to the news of thwarted terrorist attacks on US bound planes from London on Thursday. The additional security measures concern primarily British and US bound flights and are effective as of today. Passport and security clearance will be tighter and passengers will not be allowed to take any liquids or gels on board. A spokeswoman for Prague's Ruzyne airport said passengers on British and US bound flights were kindly requested to arrive well in advance of boarding i.e. at least two hours ahead of take off. A number of flights from Prague to London were cancelled on Thursday as London's Heathrow airport closed to traffic.
Japan's largest glass maker, Asahi Glass, said Thursday it plans to invest 100 million euros (128 million dollars) in the building of a new glass furnace in the Czech Republic. Construction of the furnace with a capacity of 700 tonnes a day will start later this year at a factory owned by its European subsidiary Glaverbel S.A., the Japanese company said in a statement. Full-scale production of float glass, which is mainly used for construction and automobiles, will begin at the furnace in 2008.
The two Czech football teams taking part in the final qualifying round of the prestigious Champions League had mixed fortunes on Wednesday night. Mlada Boleslav were beaten 5:2 by Galatasaray in Istanbul, while Slovan Liberec drew 0:0 at home with Spartak Moscow. The second legs of those ties take place in two weeks' time.
The Civic Democratic Party has said that it finds the president's proposal acceptable on condition that the interim head of the lower house would not in any way try to influence the choice of prime minister. Mr. Topolanek, who is most likely to be appointed prime minister designate, said that the mandate of the new Czech government should exceed 2009, when the Czech Republic will preside over the European Union. A shorter term in office would be meaningless, he said. The Social Democrats have indicated that they would be ready to support a minority Civic Democrat government that would include both politicians and experts. There is still controversy between the two parties over who would pick the experts.
The chief inspection authority has fined the chemicals company Snog HK ten million crowns for illegally storing toxic substances on a former factory site in Libcany, east Bohemia. The fine is the highest that can be imposed for this particular transgression but the firm is unlikely to pay since it recently announced bankruptcy. The company's illegal waste dump was uncovered in April. Since then decontamination crews have managed to clear out about a third of the harmful waste. Some 600 tons still remain.
For the second time this week a poll has found that the Civic Democratic Party is gaining in popularity. Released Wednesday, the Median agency findings show that if elections were held in July, the Civic Democrats would have won 41.8% of the vote, while they earned 35% in the June elections. Monday's polling results released by Factum Invenio gave the Civic Democrats a 41% popularity rating. Some analysts have dismissed the polls as unreliable, saying they are skewed because of summer vacations and lower-than-typical numbers of respondents.
On Tuesday the Canadian Embassy in Prague hinted at the fact that Ottawa will cancel visa requirements for one of the newest EU-member states, but it appears that country will not be the Czech Republic. Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Richard Krpac says that Canada is not currently engaged in visa-waiver talks with the Czech Republic, and some speculate that the country in question may be Poland. While Canadians do not need a visa to travel to the Czech Republic, Czechs are required to obtain a Canadian visa. The Czech Foreign Ministry has been working to undo this requirement for several years, and earlier this year Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda even suggested re-imposing visas on Canadians.
President Vaclav Klaus has met with leaders of all five major political parties—the Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, the Communists and the Greens—in an attempt to find a solution to the current political deadlock. Mr. Klaus says that his main agenda during Wednesday morning's talks at Prague Castle was to convince the leaders of the importance of electing a chairperson of the lower house on Monday. There have already been six failed attempts since the elections in early June. Mr. Klaus says that it is important for the leaders to consider the post-election negotiations in two steps: the first being unblocking the lower house, and the second being negotiations over a new government. The five leaders are scheduled to meet with President Klaus again on Friday.