Several hundred people were protesting against possible mining of uranium in North Bohemia on Sunday. A uranium ore deposit near the community of Kotel, North Bohemia, was discovered in the 1960s but mining there never started due to poor economic prospects. Earlier this year, however, a mining company asked the authorities to establish a protected deposit area on the site which environmental organisations consider a first step leading to the launch mining. Local inhabitants fear that mining could start in the area as the prices of uranium have skyrocketed in the last decade. The deposit is estimated to contain some 115 000 tons of uranium ore which – at current prices – is worth between 500 and 600 billion crowns, or around 30 billion US dollars.
The Czech government has chosen eight venues for holding informal meetings of ministers from the 27 EU countries during the Czech presidency of the European Union in 2009. Among the sites selected is the chateau in Hluboka nad Vltavou, South Bohemia, the Congress Centre in Prague, and various venues in the spa towns of Marianske Lazne and Luhacovice. The Czech Republic will assume the presidency of the European Union in January 2009. The motto of the Czech presidency is ‘Europe without barriers’ marking 20 years since the fall of the Iron Curtain and five years since the enlargement of the European Union.
Senator Jana Jurencakova has come up with a proposal that should improve the performance of MPs, senators and government officials. According to the proposal, MPs and senators who don’t turn up for parliamentary sessions as well as government ministers who fail to answer parliamentary inquiries should be fined. Ms Jurencakova said she was motivated by the hesitation of PM Mirek Topolanek to answer her questions concerning the distribution of EU funds. Civic Democratic MP Jan Morava suggested a similar measure earlier this year; PM Mirek Topolanek then said that the proposal was populist because MPs’ performance cannot be measured purely on the basis of their attendance of parliamentary votes.
The Czech dairy concern Madeta will close two of its plants in Ceske Budejovice and Strakonice, South Bohemia, Czech TV reported on Saturday. Its major milk supplier has cancelled all deliveries for the South Bohemian company. By March 2008, the local milk producer will only be selling milk to German companies because they offer higher prices. The dairy concern will now have to look elsewhere for milk supplies and about 200 employees will lose their jobs as a result. Madeta is the largest Czech milk processing company with about 1500 employees. About 25 percent of its products are sold at foreign markets, including the United States, Russia and various EU countries.
The region of North Moravia lacks qualified workers in almost all areas of the labour market. Many employers complain about the deficit in workforce in the fields of information technology, management, accountancy as well as machinery, metallurgy and mining. Recruitment agencies have started bringing back North Moravians who had left in the past for other regions of the Czech Republic, especially Prague, for better employment opportunities. They are also working more closely with universities trying to keep their graduates in the region.
The first Esperanto museum in the Czech Republic will open in Svitavy, north-west Moravia, in September next year. The Czech Esperanto Union has about 1000 members speaking the artificial language, invented in the late 19th century. The local Svitavy branch of the union is one of the most active in the country. The museum will be housed in a town library and will host exhibitions on the history of Esperanto with examples of fiction, text books, dictionaries and other materials written in the artificial language.
Czech ice-hockey player Jaromir Jagr, the captain of the New York Rangers, scored one goal and registered two assists in a game against Toronto on Saturday which saw the Rangers win 6:1. Two other Czech players in the Rangers line-up, Petr Prucha and Martin Straka, also scored in the game and together with Jaromir Jagr were voted the three starts of the game.
Ernest Bokros, the coach of the ice-hoceky club RI Okna Zlin resigned on Sunday over poor results. The coach has been with the club since 2003 and won the only title for the Moravian team in 2004. This year, Zlin is currently last but one in the Extraliga table. The position will probably be filled by Rostislav Vlach, a former forward for Zlin and the Czech national team.
The Jewish community in Plzen, western Bohemia, is organizing a gathering outside the city’s Great Synagogue on January 19 in protest against a neo-Nazi march planned for that day. The march is supposed to take place two months after a similar event in Prague where thousands gathered in the Jewish quarter to stop neo-Nazis from marching on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. The far-right group plans to march past the synagogue in Plzen to protest against restrictions of freedom of speech. Czech Jewish organisations say this is only a pretext as the march will take place on the eve of the anniversary of the first transport of Plzen Jews to Nazi extermination camps during WWII.
Tobacco market in the Czech Republic is witnessing a price war among major cigarette producers, the daily Pravo reports. The price conflict started when the JT International tobacco company only increased the price of its flagship Camel brand to 64 crowns, or just over 3.5 US dollars, due to the VAT increase in 2007. As a result, the sales of Camel cigarettes in the Czech Republic have tripled. Other producers, including Phillip Morris and International Tobacco, have reacted with bringing down the prices of their products as well. In 2008, the prices of cigarettes and other tobacco products will rise again due to the increase in consumer tax.