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.
Foreign Minister calls Kerry and says that they are against all forms of cyber attacks and cyber terrorism
"New chapter" between the U.S. and Cuba is closely monitored by the countries of the region, and experts argue an open relationship will help to solve human rights issues in Cuba and contribute economically to the region.
Zimbabwe's political analysts are in deep search for the reasons why the President is in such a hurry to make crucial decisions.
A substantial majority of Switzerland's population is in favor of a ban on burqa, a garment worn by Muslim women, in public areas, according to Swiss media.
If realized, the E1 plan, which aims to build new Jewish settlements on an area of 12,000 dunams, will link the Jewish settlements of Maale Adumim, Mishor Adumim and Kfar Adumim in the occupied West Bank to East Jerusalem
Demonstrators hit the streets in angry response, protesting against ruthless and aggressive police tactics.
Israeli army detain Palestinian at Tulkarm checkpoint.
China prepared to help Russian overcome economic troubles, despite Putin refusing to call economic issues a crisis.
Television footage showed Marcello di Finizio using ropes to lower himself, this is the fifth time di Finizio has staged a protest against laws.
Israeli forces routinely conduct arrest campaigns on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank on claims they are "wanted" by Israeli authorities
Seoul claims threats to nuclear infrastructure based on 'leaks' of classified data that could be obtained through online search.
Netanyahu says that Israel is being attacked by Hamas and the Palestinian proposal to UN to end Israeli occupation.
Hundreds of settlers stormed local shrine to pray at local tomb under Israeli police protection
Hamas had tried to mediate between Syrian regime and Muslim brotherhood
The announcement is part of an effort to resolve a mounting political crisis over long-delayed elections