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.
"We are watching the result in Italy with concern," Steinmeier, who is visiting Greece, told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in televised remarks.
A 23-year-old suspect, who was armed with a shotgun, already had a record of violent crime according to police
The Central Electoral Commission said around 88 percent of the 20 million-plus electorate voted in a ballot that ended at 1500 GMT on Sunday.
The prime minister's office announced only that he would make a statement at 6:30 pm (1730 GMT) from his political base in Evry, south of Paris.
Panfilov’s 28 tells the story of a Russian division who fought to the death to defend Moscow, but some are questioning the accuracy of the story
Trump will have "a very full slate of meetings" on Monday as he looks to finalise key cabinet positions, senior aide Kellyanne Conway said Sunday.
A government-commissioned review into British social integration found ethnic segregation is growing in some places with Dame Louise Casey slamming the failures of past administration
Russia had proposed a renewable truce of only 24 hours, and for militant groups such as the Al-Nusra Front to be excluded.
For the first time ever, all 11 Supreme Court judges will convene for the four-day hearing which threatens to upset May's timetable for leaving the European Union.
How to fight a pipeline: On Sunday, the US Army Corps of Engineers said it would not grant a necessary permit to allow the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River — putting the controversial project on hold.
Israel's leaders must choose between settlements and two-state solution but 'tipping point' not yet crossed, Kerry says
Puntland forces backed by Somali National Army retake control of strategic coastal town from ISIL
Trump top aide Kellyanne Conway said "a very full slate of meetings" was set to begin Monday to fill the remaining cabinet positions, including post of top US diplomat.
Demonstrators were furious at a vote earlier this week by the lower house of Congress -- where many deputies are themselves suspects in criminal probes -- to weaken a long-planned anti-corruption bill and to undermine the authority of prosecutors.
Six new members were elected to Fatah's central committee