The French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, says France will work hard
to persuade the Czech Republic to ratify the Lisbon Treaty during his
country’s presidency of the EU, the Czech newspaper Lidové noviny
reported. Mr Kouchner said Prague would have to be persuaded to ratify the
document, and reiterated France’s position that the failure of Lisbon
would mean an end to further EU enlargement, a policy the Czech Republic
supports. An unnamed French government source quoted by the daily asked
Prague could lead the EU during its presidency next year if it blocks the
rest of the union. The Czech Parliament will not vote on whether to ratify
the Lisbon Treaty until the country’s Constitutional Court answers a
Senate request to consider whether it is in line with the Czech
constitution; that ruling is expected towards the end of the year. The
future of Lisbon was called into doubt after voters in Ireland rejected it
in a referendum.
Meanwhile, France began its six-month EU presidency by opening its labour market to workers from the 10 countries, including the Czech Republic, which joined the bloc four years ago.
Despite the fact the Czech government has no target date for adoption of the common European currency, some big companies are already conducting most transactions in euros, Hospodařské noviny reported. Car makers in particular have switched to the euro, the newspaper said, giving the example of Škoda Auto, which does 80 percent of its business in the currency. Some suppliers of car parts are also conducting most of their dealings in euros. Using the euro protects exporters from losses causes by the marked firming of the Czech crown; on Tuesday it set a new record of 23.77 to the common European currency.
Forty-seven percent of Czechs would be against having a Romany neighbour, according to a new Europe-wide study by Eurobarometer. That puts the Czech Republic alongside Italy as the European Union states where there is most distaste for the idea of a Romany living next door. Ten percent of Czechs said they would see no problem in having such a neighbour, the lowest rate among the 27 members of the EU.
The price of cigarettes in the Czech Republic has gone up, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The biggest producer Philip Morris has increased the price of its brands including Marlboro, which now cost CZK 82 for a pack of 20 (USD 5.5). Other cigarette makers are now expected to follow Philip Morris’s lead and charge more for their products. The price increases reflect a tax hike on tobacco products introduced at the start of the year, the newspaper said.
Ninety-five people died in road accidents in the Czech Republic in June, the highest number for any month this year. Nonetheless, it was lower than the figure for June 2007, when 116 people were killed on the roads. Tuesday marks the second anniversary of the introduction of a points system for Czech drivers. When it came in in 2006 there was a dip in the number of road deaths, though fatality rates later returned to previous levels, more or less.
US actor Danny Glover has been added to the list of guests for this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, which begins on Friday. Two of the Lethal Weapon star’s movies, Honeydripper and Be Kind Rewind, are being shown at the 43rd festival in the west Bohemian spa town. Other guests confirmed this year are actors Robert De Niro, Armin Mueller-Stahl and Christopher Lee, and directors Nicolas Roeg and John Sayles.
The Czech footballer Tomáš Ujfaluši has signed a three-year contract with Athletico Madrid. The defender, who is 30, was captain of the Italian side Fiorentina but became a free agent at the end of last season. Ujfaluši also captained the Czech national team at Euro 2008, in the absence of the injured Tomáš Rosický.
A third man has been charged with disorderly conduct following Saturday’s gay rights march in Brno. The march, which was the first of its kind in the Czech Republic, was disrupted when an unknown perpetrator threw tear gas at revelers. Two of those arrested have been charged with disturbance of the peace, having thrown eggs at gay rights campaigners, the third man is charged with propagating Nazism, having worn an SS belt. An estimated 150 far-right extremists turned out to protest against Saturday’s march. Police are still searching for the individual who threw the tear gas, injuring 20.
The American private detective agency Kroll has finished auditing Deputy
Prime Minister Jiří Čunek’s finances, Hospodářské noviny reported
on Monday. The audit is now in the hands of Foreign Minister Karel
Schwarzenberg, who commissioned and paid for the investigation. Mr
Schwarzenberg has said that he will discuss the audit’s findings with
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek and Jiří Čunek himself in ten days time,
after he has returned from an official visit to the Caucuses.
The leader of the Christian Democrats, Jiří Čunek, was forced to resign from his government posts last November, in connection with corruption allegations. The investigation into whether he accepted bribes was subsequently dropped, and Mr Čunek was able to return to the government. But coalition partners, the Greens, were not fully satisfied that Mr Čunek had cleared his name, and thus Green Party MP Karel Schwarzenberg paid for a private investigation into the corruption allegations.