President Vaclav Klaus has arrived in Kyrgyzstan as part of an official tour of Central Asia. Speaking in the capital Bishkek on Friday, Mr Klaus said people in the Czech Republic had forgotten the region in recent years as they concentrated on joining the European Union. He said it was important to re-establish connections with Central Asia, and that there was more to the world than Europe. The Czech president is due to move on to Uzbekistan before returning to Prague on Wednesday.
On a working visit to Germany, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda on Thursday criticized a French proposal to axe structural funds for new EU members. In talks with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer, minister Svoboda pointed out that the debate on the future EU budget would be taking place alongside a debate on the future EU constitution and that it would be impossible to keep the two issues separate. Every country in the EU cares about finances, the Czech Foreign Minister said. In view of the financial burden of the recent EU expansion, some of the economically stronger nations such as France and Germany are now considering lowering their annual contribution to EU coffers in the years between 2007 and 2013. This would have an adverse effect on the newcomer states.
An express train from Pilsen to Brno got de-railed on Thursday morning due to a wrongly positioned shunt. No one was hurt in the accident. According to Czech Railways there was a problem with technology and the shunts were being switched manually in the course of the morning. The signalman responsible for the accident has suffered a nervous break down and has had to be hospitalized. Material damage has been assessed at close to half a million Czech crowns.
In all likeliness, former Czech president Vaclav Havel will not be the only Czech candidate in the running for the Andrej Sacharov Award for the spirit of liberty, nominated by members of the European Parliament. Czech left-of-centre euro-parliamentarians are also considering nominating renowned Czech author Arnost Lustig. Also being considered are students in Belarus actively opposed to the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
The Czech national football side is preparing to face the Netherlands on Wednesday evening, in their opening qualifier for the 2006 World Cup. After facing each other in the last two European championships, the Czechs and the Netherlands have become something like traditional rivals. At Euro 2004 in June, the Czechs downed the Dutch in a 3-2 turn-around thriller. Wednesday's game will see many key players, however, missing from the Czech line-up: regular team captain Pavel Nedved and fellow midfielder Karel Poborsky.
On Wednesday the government approved the possibility to deploy over
10,000 soldiers and hundreds of military vehicles in severe emergency
situations. The cabinet approved six possible scenarios in which
military troops could be deployed, including the event of a terrorist
attack, extensive floods, forest fires, serious industrial accidents,
cases of mass migration, or widespread epidemics. The document was put
together by the ministries of the interior and defence, in cooperation
with additional experts.
Within the crisis scenarios, the military could be called to help guard the state border, provide evacuation for inhabitants, help in the construction of emergency access roads and bridges, as well as provide accommodation facilities.
The Czech Republic crushed Sweden 6-1 on Tuesday night to secure a spot in the 2004 Ice Hockey World Cup semi-finals in North America, where they will probably face off against Canada. The Czech team, whose mentor and coach Ivan Hlinka died in a car accident last month, had lost 4-3 to the Scandinavian team during their first meeting on Wednesday last week and had not been favoured to win Tuesday's match. However, the Czechs started out strong and never relinquished their lead over the Swedes, who couldn't seem to organise their play to prevent sloppy defence and shaky goalkeeping, as well as to create more chances in offence.
President Vaclav Klaus has officially pardoned three North Korean seamstresses facing charges for theft earlier this year, bringing legal procedures against them to a halt. The incident with which the seamstresses were charged took place in April, when they allegedly assaulted a Czech TV cameraman filming outside the facility where they worked. The seamstresses were then charged with stealing material from the camera itself. The presidential office has said Mr Klaus decided in favour of halting legal procedures against the three as potential damages to the charged were greater than the damages in the incident, an estimated 20, 000 crowns.
Controversial Czech-born financier Viktor Kozeny, wanted on charges of
fraud in both the Czech Republic and the U.S., has filed against the
Social Democrat government at the European Court of Human Rights in
Strasbourg. Mr Kozeny, who lives in the Bahamas, filed his lawsuit on
the grounds - in his view - that the Social Democratic Party has
violated the Convention of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Kozeny filed the lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights in
Strasbourg on Tuesday.
The Czech Republic is seeking Mr Kozeny's extradition from the Bahamas on the grounds of a 79-year-old treaty between Czechoslovakia and the British Commonwealth. The Czech Republic and the Bahamas do not share any similar diplomatic agreements.
One hundred Czech soldiers serving in Afghanistan under the US-led military operation "Enduring Freedom" are to return home as early as next week. A Czech Defence Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday the soldiers, who have been serving in Afghanistan on a six-month mission, will return to the Czech Republic between September 15th and 20th. Replacement troops are not currently being considered. Much of the contingent is made up of an elite forces unit specially geared towards the fight against terrorism. Under American command, the Czechs participated in efforts to track down armed groups of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters in the Afghan mountains. The unit's deployment marked the Czechs' first direct involvement in a combat operation since World War II.