There have been mixed reactions to President Klaus' vision of a future Europe. The president outlined his own vision for the old continent in Saturday's edition of Lidove Noviny, depicting an Organization of European States, which would benefit by free trade and movement of capital and labour but not be restricted in their sovereignty. Members of the coalition government said that the president's concept would mean turning back the clock by 20 years which would not be to Europe's advantage. On the other hand, a senior communist official liked the idea of losing less sovereignty to Brussels and said that he too considered European citizenship to be an "artificial product".
The police broke up a concert of some 200 skinheads in the Libava Valley on Saturday night. One of the skinheads, a Ukrainian national, was briefly detained for questioning. The event was curtailed on suspicion that it was spreading a racist ideology. The police say they are analyzing a recording of the concert.
The Czech Republic is sending humanitarian aid to flood devastated Romania. Bottled water, food and hygiene products as well as electric power generators are being dispatched to various parts of the country. A number of charity organizations, including ADRA and the Czech Catholic Charity have opened accounts to which the Czech public can contribute. The authorities are ascertaining what form of assistance the country needs most.
An engine powered glider crashed near Tabor, southern Bohemia, on Saturday, killing the pilot and severely injuring a young woman passenger. Just before the crash the pilot reported engine failure and said he was going to attempt an emergency landing. A team of experts are investigating the cause of the accident.
A mass grave containing the remains of German prisoners of war has been discovered in the Czech Republic. The grave, containing the remains of 55 men, was found near Drazenov, close to the city of Plzen. The search for the graves of German soldiers was instigated by the German government at the request of the families of German soldiers who went missing during the war. The remains have been excavated and are now being examined by German experts who will try to identify them.
Nine Czechs have died while on holiday to Croatia since the beginning of the tourist season. Most of them are young people. The Croat authorities say that Czech tourists are particularly accident prone and are generally inclined to taking risks. Three Czechs drowned in the sea during the last fortnight alone, having swum too far out in spite of the locals' warnings. Two young Czech women are reported to have suffered spontaneous abortions because of staying out too long in the heat of the sun.
The Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek are engaged in a heated dispute over the prime minister's proposal to compensate anti-fascist Sudeten Germans expelled from the country at the end of World War II, despite the fact that they had actively opposed the Nazi regime. The President has slammed the prime minister for planning to re-open sensitive WWII issues. In an interview for today's Mlada Fronta Dnes daily Mr. Klaus said the prime minister was behaving irresponsibly and putting his own interests above those of the Czech Republic. Prime Minister Paroubek countered that Mr. Klaus was inclined to behaving like an absolute monarch. He has, nevertheless, said he would like to meet with Mr. Klaus so that they could try to resolve their differences.
Czech Harry Potter fans have been crowding bookstores around the country for the sixth volume of the boy wizard series. A number of Prague bookstores which started selling the book at midnight organized fun and games for kids who came in wearing Harry Potter masks and costumes, and a competition for two tickets to London. Interest in the last of the Potter series "Harry Potter and the half-blood prince" is expected to grow when the Czech translation comes out. To date over 1 million Harry Potter books have sold in the country.
During an informal meeting with Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, the former Social Democrat leader and ex-prime minister Milos Zeman, said he would like to find a way to support the party in next year's general elections. He said he was not interested in returning to high politics or holding any kind of post but wanted to be useful as a rank and file member. Mr. Zeman, who now lives the life of a pensioner in the Moravian highlands, expressed admiration for the way in which Prime Minister Paroubek had tackled the problems at hand since taking office.
President Klaus has outlined his own vision of a future Europe. In Saturday's edition of the daily Lidove Noviny, Mr. Klaus says that following the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters it is time to abandon the federalist concept and plan Europe's future along different lines. The President would like the European Union to be transformed into an Organization of European States, which would benefit by free trade and movement of capital and labour but not be restricted in their sovereignty. The organizations members would be individual states, not citizens, and these states could act together in their common interests, but there should be no unnecessary "unification" or "centralization" and no compulsory, common ideology, Mr. Klaus says.