World Bulletin/News Desk
The Czech Republic is to return property seized from churches during the 1948-1989 communist era under legislation approved by its lower house of parliament on Friday, a major step towards ending years of wrangling over the fate of the assets.
Under a plan agreed by the ruling parties and 17 religious groups led by the Catholic church, the government intends to give back most confiscated assets, mainly land and buildings worth some $4 billion, plus about $2.8 billion in cash compensation split into 30 annual payments.
The plan may cause a one-off jump in the budget deficit of 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, the central bank has assessed, because all future payments would be accounted for immediately.
Prime Minister Petr Necas's centre-right government has impressed investors with its steps to narrow the budget deficit and plans to overhaul the pension, health and welfare systems.
But it nearly collapsed over the church restitution plan, a highly divisive decision in an era of tax increases and spending cuts needed to narrow the budget deficit.
The return of church property had been planned since the bloodless 1989 "Velvet Revolution".
But it had until now never won enough political support in the largely atheist central European country. The leftist opposition strongly opposed the measure, also citing severe economic headwinds.
The plan is likely to be vetoed by the upper house, the Senate, which is dominated by leftists, but the lower house can overturn the veto later this year.
The Prague cabinet has been shaky since it took power in mid-2010, beset by a string of internal disputes caused by corruption scandals, personality clashes and the demands of individual parties.
But it has survived due to a lack of alternative government alliances and the ruling parties' concern that an early election would hand power to the opposition.
One of the survivors said each migrant paid about $6,500 to human smugglers to escape the war in Syria in the hopes to reach Europe
Putin will meet Abkhazia's Raul Khadzhimba in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday to sign an "alliance and strategic partnership" agreement
Sisi told Italian daily Corriere della Sera the creation of a Palestinian state was the best way to protect Israeli security while restoring hope for the Palestinian people.
The prosecutors' decision to level a charge of manslaughter rather than murder drew criticism from the boy's father, who said the evidence showed the killing was pre-meditated
"We understand the fatality of an 'Iron Curtain' for us," Putin was quoted as saying the TASS news agency in an interview published
If one mentions “to forget or to ignore” somewhere as Muslim World, the first thing we would think of must be Kashmir
If one mentions “to forget or to ignore” somewhere as Muslim World, the first thing we would think of must be Kashmir. Therefore we have to remind Kashmir the most
Since 2009 Ampatuan Massacre nobody convicted and four witnesses slain
School children caught in stampede among 54 injured after quake hits Sichuan province, officials say
The lower house of Afghan parliament has approved controversial security agreements with the U.S. and NATO that allow foreign troops to stay beyond 2014
Permanent residency status refers to the Jerusalem ID granted to Palestinians residing in occupied East Jerusalem
As a Nov. 30 parliamentary election approaches, opinion polls show Moldova's public deeply divided over whether to stick to this path or change tack and join a Russia-led economic bloc.
The ministry identified the man as Fadel Mohammed Halawa, 32, and said he was shot by soldiers east of Jabalya refugee camp.
Until now Mugabe and his two ZANU-PF deputies have been elected by members from the country's 10 regions
The additional funds approved by the Knesset Finance Committee meant that protecting each Jewish settler in the holy city cost Israel 30,000 shekels (around $8,000) a year, Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported
Peshmerga and army officers said they advanced into Jalawla, 115 km (70 miles) from Baghdad, and the nearby town of Saadiya, which they have been trying to recapture from ISIL