In the News 20.4.09

A new cabinet on its way, Canada flooded with CZ asylum seekers, and more...


NEW CABINET ON ITS WAY. All three parties have proposed “their” men who will soon take over the outgoing government. First, it was the Social Democrats that came up with concrete names of non-partisan experts, then it was the Greens, followed by the Civic Democrats.

The EU did not fall into chaos after the Czech government was voted down by the opposition parties in March but it does cause some confusion. Some political analysts even expect more confusion to come as soon as the new cabinet of PM-designate Jan Fischer takes over on May 9, arguing that the new members will be novices to two things – high politics and EU presidency.

Now, Jan Fischer is set to take a week to meet all the proposed members vis-à-vis and only then he will decide if all fit his idea of a functional interim cabinet.


ACTIVE MINISTERS IN DEMISE. While the future government is being formed, some of the “old” members are still active on their fronts. While Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová has signed a CZK 1 billion deal on purchase of tactical transport aircraft, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has recently been received by Pope Benedict XVI. in Vatikan and soon off he was to Belarus to officially invite Alexander Lukashenko for the upacoming EU-Belarus NATO.

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As Lukashenko said earlier, he may send a replacement, which would be a step welcomed by the EU leaders, since inviting “the last dictator of Europe”, as he is often dubbed by the Western media, is a very delicate issue.

The EU summit to be held in Prague on May 7 will be a goodbye-EU song by the outgoing cabinet of Mirek Topolánek since two days after PM-designate Jan Fischer’s men will take over.


RAINBOW WINS HAVEL. The Czech environmental movement Duha (Rainbow) has won support of one of the major Czech celebrities for their greenhouse gas emission campaign –  former president Václav Havel.

The goal of the multi-million campaign called Big Challenge (Velká výzva) is to promote a law that would set a target to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent every year.

But incumbent president Václav Klaus has not shown much interest in the project.

Despite the fact Václav Klaus is an outspoken critic of global warming, Duha program director Vojtěch Kotecký thinks they could find some common ground, for example in the economy sphere.


THE SWISS WILL KEEP TAX EVADER. Czech infamous tax evader Tomáš Pitr who has been in hiding in Switzerland for more than a year may stay absolutely calm.

As Aktuálně.cz learned, the Swiss officials have deduced that the tax evasions Pitr was convicted for in the Czech Republic years ago fall under the statute of limitations.

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Two independent sources confirmed the information to Aktuálně.cz reporters.

Pitr was charged with tax evasion worth CZK 51 million thirteen years ago. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison but did not serve his jail based on health grounds. He was supposed to have mental problems at that time. He has been on the run since 2007.

No one seems to know how Pitr could manage to flee the country, though. Former boss of the Organized Crime Unit Jan Kubice indicated in a recent Aktuálně.cz interview that the police just let him go.


CANADA FLOODED WITH CZECH ASYLUM CLAIMANTS. Canadian authorities are (again) lost about what to do with unbearably growing numbers of Czech asylum seekers.

Suspecting there are “unscrupulous commercial operators” behind the 993 percent increase of asylum claimants coming from the Czech Republic, they have recently called on the Czech government to crack down on them.

It is hard to say whether there can be any operators when Czechs do not need visa to enter Canada and all they have to do is just pay for their air ticket. Unlike in the case of foreign guest workers in the Czech Republic who needed (not any more since there are no work permits issued these days due to the crisis) help from employment agencies to arrive in the Czech lands.

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But one things is clear – there must be very concrete reasons why the Roma families are fleeing the country. According to both sides – Canadian as well as Czech governments – they are working on finding out.

Some of the Czech MPs assign the wave of Roma refugees to economic reasons but human rights organizations deny that, arguing Roma are truly discriminated against in the country, in particular when trying to get a decent job.

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