Czech Telecom has been fined 23 million crowns by the Anti-monopoly Office for abusing its dominant position on the telecoms market, a spokesman for the Office said on Thursday. Between February 2002 and January 2003 the company prevented rivals from entering the internet and data transfer markets using ASDL technology.
Meanwhile the Senate has approved the discontinuation of compulsory military service in the Czech Republic from the beginning of next year. Now only the president's signature is needed to make the bill law, bringing to an end 140 years of military duty in this part of the world. The last group of Czech conscripts are due to be complete their service just before Christmas.
Most European Union states are over-protective of their labour markets and discriminate against service companies from central European countries, the Polish Finance Minister Jerzy Hausner and the Czech Labour Minister Zdenek Skromach said after talks in Prague on Thursday. Mr Hausner said there was no reason to maintain transition periods for workers from new EU countries.
A Czech military police unit serving in Iraq is due to stay two months longer than originally planned, and will now remain in the country until the end of February. The move was approved by both houses of parliament on Thursday after a request from the Iraqi authorities to keep the 80-strong Czech unit in place until after planned elections in January, when tensions are expected to rise. The Czech officers, who are based near Basra in the south of Iraq, have been training local police, helping keep law and order and fighting insurgents.
Sparta Prague were beaten 4:1 by Manchester United in a Champions League football game on Wednesday night. The Czech team's only goal was scored by Lukas Zelenka. Sparta captain Karel Poborsky - a former Man United player - left the field to applause from the home crowd after being sent off minutes from the end after receiving a second yellow card.
Former dissident and Freedom Union MP Svatopluk Karasek has been appointed the government's human rights commissioner, after the recent resignation of Jan Jarab. Mr Karasek, who is a priest of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren and also a singer, says he has no plans to relinquish his seat in the Chamber of Deputies.
The number of tourists visiting the Czech Republic this year is expected to be up to 16 percent higher compared to last year, according to the government agency CzechTourism. By the end of the year, as many as 5.9 million tourists are expected to have stayed at hotels and other accommodation facilities in the Czech Republic. CzechTourism estimates that a further 2 million foreigners will have stayed with friends and relatives, not making it into the statistics. According to private agency Mag Consulting, the increase in the number of tourists in 2004 is estimated at only 8-9 percent, and the total of tourists using accommodation to 5.5 million.
The Czech President Vaclav Klaus has welcomed the re-election of George W. Bush as President of the United States. The Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said the victory of George W. Bush in Tuesday's U.S. presidential elections was good news for the Czech Republic. Shortly after Senator John Kerry conceded the election, Foreign Minister Svoboda said that the majority of American voters had supported Mr Bush in such key issues as the fight against terrorism and involvement in Iraq, a line advocated also by Czech diplomacy. According to both politicians, President Bush's re-election means welcome continuity in U.S. policies.