The Czech government has authorized Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek to negotiate with Libyan authorities about the debt of the Mediterranean country to the Czech Republic. The total amount Libya owes is classified; the total Libyan debt to former Czechoslovakia was 7.6 billion crowns, or more than 400 million US dollars. A possible settlement deal between the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Libya should also involve compensation for the families of Libyan children allegedly infected with HIV by Bulgarian nurses.
One of the most serious crimes of the Czechoslovak communist era, the liquidation of the Czech farm-owners in 1950s, is to be prosecuted in court. Jan Srb, spokesperson f or the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism, says the agency must first determine whether those responsible are still alive. According to Mr Srb, the crimes against peasants constituted genocide because they were directed against a certain group of people.
The number of drug users in the Czech Republic in 2006 was the same as in the previous year, according to a report by a governmental committee on drugs. About 30,200 people abused methamphetamine and opiates. The report also says that fewer schoolchildren experienced with drugs in 2006 than the year before. While prevention and treatment of drug users cost 1.36 billion crowns, or more than 72 million US dollars, law enforcement and suppression was almost four times more expensive.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus said in his address on the 89th anniversary of the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia in Prague on Sunday that the Czech Republic should defend its interests more. In relation to neighbouring countries, Mr Klaus said that the Czech Republic needs to use nuclear energy, which should be explained to Austria in a friendly but firm manner. He also mentioned that reopening the debate in Germany on the post-war arrangement of Central Europe is unacceptable. In other passages of his anniversary address, Vaclav Klaus said that while Europe is the most natural cultural and civilization background for the Czech Republic, it does not, and cannot, replace Czech statehood.
Almost a half of 400 million crowns, or more than 21 million US dollars, from EU Phare fund that was meant to boost small-scale businesses in the Czech Republic in 1994 were used inappropriately, according to the Czech Regional Development Ministry. The money was instead used for administrative tasks. Regional Development Minister Jiri Cunek said on Monday that the misused funds will be reimbursed by the government that will also revive the programme.
A group of far-right activists insists on marching through Prague's Jewish Quarter on November 10, the anniversary of the anti-Jewish Nazi pogrom of 1938, known as Kristallnacht. The pretext for the march is a protest against Czech involvement in the occupation of Iraq. Prague City Hall had previously tried to ban the march but a court ruled that the ban was poorly justified. Last week, the local authorities said that the announcement of the march was not valid due to formal errors and the planned venue for the march was immediately booked by a Prague Jewish community for commemorative gathering.
The Czech Transportation Ministry banned on Monday Egyptian airlines Koral Air from flying into the Czech Republic. According to a ministry spokesperson, the company has not sufficiently guaranteed the reliability of its charter flights; the airline has had repeated problems and its flights were often delayed. Koral Blue had applied for four licences for flights between Prague and Red Sea resorts.
The archaeological site in Mikulcice, South Moravia, has applied to be included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The site features a stronghold from the period of the Great Moravian Empire that existed in the 9th and 10th centuries AD, and was the centre of one of the first state formations in the Czech territory. Mikulcice submitted a joint application with the Slovak locality of Kopcany, which lies just across the Morava River, and is famous for the oldest church in Central Europe. The evaluation process to determine whether the site will enter the UNESCO list will start next year.
The Czech air carrier CSA announced on Monday that it will launch its first long-distance cargo flight to Hong-Kong with a stopover in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. CSA will share the flight with Emirates SkyCargo, the freight service of Emirates Airline. The first flight on the route will happen on November 9.
Nine new EU countries are ready to join the Schengen zone of free travel on 21st December, according to the Prague Declaration, a document adopted by interior ministers and other representatives of EU countries who met in Prague on Friday and Saturday. The declaration says that the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia are well prepared for abolishing border checks on their frontiers with other Schengen zone members, and enter the free-travel area on 21st December this year. Some old Schnegen zone members, such as Austria, are however considering policing their borders with the acceding countries even after this date.