Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Kohout on Monday praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his unprecedented backing for the creation of a Palestinian state. Speaking at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxemberg, Mr Kohout called the statement a “step in the right direction” but added that the details of his proposal would have to be further analysed. In a key policy speech Sunday evening, Mr Netanyahu said for the first time that he would support the creation of a Palestinian state provided such a state would recognise Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people. The Israeli Prime Minister also said that any independent Palestinian state would have to be demilitarised, a condition that many have said would entail not a Palestinian state but an Israeli protectorate.
Czech Prime Minister Jan Fischer has arrived in London for a brief visit during which he is to meet with his British counterpart Gordon Brown. Talks are expected to centre on the agenda of this week’s EU leaders summit, the last big event to be held under the Czech EU presidency. The Czech prime minister held a similar meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday.
The Czech President Václav Klaus has signed a constitutional act limiting the current parliamentary term of office to allow early elections in October, Prague Castle has announced. The one-time act is the result of the agreement reached among the country’s parties in the spring to call early elections in the autumn, and the president did not have the right of veto. The Czech Republic is currently being led by a caretaker government after the previous elected government lost a vote of confidence on XXXXXX. According to the new act, the current parliamentary term will end on election day, which must take place on or before the weekend of October 9th.
The Czech interim government has proposed 370 million for the purchase of swine flu medicine and vaccines for half of the population. The same measures have been agreed upon by the other EU member states. The proposal must be approved by the State Security Council before a tender can be announced for the selection of a manufacturer. The state currently has reserves of a swine flu medicament, Tamiflu, for 20 percent of the population. The World Health Organisation announced last week that the outbreak of swine flu has reached the level of a pandemic, with nearly 30,000 confirmed cases in 74 countries.
The national deficit of the Czech Republic has grown by nearly one billion crowns since the start of this year. Data from the first quarter of 2009 released by the Ministry of Finance puts the country’s deficit at one trillion Czech crowns, or 96,000 crowns per citizen. The ministry has also raised the amount it expects to borrow this year. While the state deficit management and financing strategy from December estimated loans of nearly 150 billion for 2009, the amount now required due to the global financial crisis is expected to equal some 280 billion crowns.
Police in the western Bohemian town of Most have officially charged a participant in last weekend’s far-right extremist marches with promoting Nazism. According the police, the detained man was wearing neo-Nazi symbols on his clothing. Dozens of people were arrested at the weekend for involvement in unapproved gatherings as part of a recent, more large-scale effort on the part of the Czech police to clamp down on right-wing extremism. If convicted the suspect faces up to three years in prison under laws forbidding the “endorsement or promotion of movements to suppress human rights and freedoms”.
The centre-right party TOP 09, launched last week by former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek says it is receiving hundreds of requests for membership. A flash poll conducted by the STEM research centre at the weekend suggested that the new party could receive as much as 40% voter support in the early elections scheduled to take place in October. TOP 09 is currently being led by former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, who held that post on behalf of the Green Party and is consistently ranked the country’s most popular politician.
The company RegioJet, owned entirely by the transportation company Student Agency, is planning 15 railway lines around the Czech Republic, the company announced on Monday. The lines are to connect major destinations around the Czech Republic and will be serviced by new Siemens Desiro trains at a price of more than 10 billion crowns.
The television station Prima on Monday launched its second station in 3 months. The new digital station, R1, is meant to broadcast regional news and television series. The television station launched station for afternoon broadcast, Prima Cool, in April. Though it is a separate station, the national Council for Radio and TV Broadcasting has permitted R1 to share the same channel as Prima Cool, with R1 filling the channel’s morning broadcast.
The Czech EU presidency has expressed concern about alleged irregularities in Iran’s presidential election. In a statement published on Saturday, the EU presidency noted the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second four- year term, but said it was concerned about the street violence that erupted after the official results were announced. The presidency also said it hopes that Iran will respect its international obligations and enable the resumption of dialogue on nuclear issues. Six major powers, including EU members Britain, France and Germany, have offered Iran a package of economic and other incentives in exchange for which they want Iran to stop enriching uranium, a process that can produce fuel for power plants, or potentially a nuclear weapon.