European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso met for talks with Czech President Vaclav Klaus at Prague Castle on Friday. According to the CTK news agency they failed to agree on the scope of EU integration and the status of a European constitution. Mr. Barroso, who is in Prague to launch a "dialogue, democracy and debate" initiative aimed at bringing the European Union closer to its citizens, urged further EU integration. President Klaus, who is strongly anti-federalist, said he particularly welcomed the EU initiate since he felt that there was a lack of open debate on problems of European integration, particularly following the rejection of the European Constitution by Dutch and French voters.
The health ministry claims that the General Health Insurance company VZP is making obstructions to an inspection ordered by the health minister. The head of the ministry's inspection team Vladimir Dryml said the insurance company was not cooperating as it should. VZP spokesman Jiri Suttner rejected the allegation, saying that the insurance company's employees were working day and night to prepare the documents requested by the ministry. Health Minister David Rath recently imposed forced administration on the insurance company, largely due to its growing debt.
The former Czech president Vaclav Havel has received the Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Arts. Mr. Havel received the award from Austrian President Heinz Fisher at Hofburg Palace in Vienna on Friday. President Fisher said Vaclav Havel had been chosen for this honour mainly due to his merit in strengthening relations between Prague and Vienna.
The ruling Social Democratic Party is determined to push through as much of its policy programme as possible before next years general elections. The party's acting chairman Bohuslav Sobotka told newsmen on Friday that there were 51 government proposed bills that the ruling party would try to push through Parliament in the coming months either with support from its coalition partners or the opposition Communist Party. The mentioned bills involve a conflict of interest bill, one on bankruptcy and a bill on rent-deregulation, all of which have proved problematic in the past.
A regional court judge faces a disciplinary hearing for failing to prolong the custody of a man charged with drug dealing, as a result of which he had to be set free. The judge from the Ostrava regional court claims to have overlooked the task in the midst of other pressing work. The court's chairman Vit Vesley said it was a cardinal mistake and the judge would have to face the consequences. The man who had to be set free as a result of this mistake was the head of an organized group of Vietnamese and Russian drug dealers.
President Vaclav Klaus as well as the prime minister and other public
figures have marked the 16th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. 16
years ago this day an attack by riot police against demonstrating students
on Prague's Narodni trida sparked mass protests that led to the fall
of Czechoslovakia's communist regime. Speaking with journalists on
President Klaus described November 17th, 1989 as a "key moment
in Czech history", saying those who had experienced the events that
followed "experienced the birth of freedom".
Accompanied by Prague Lord Mayor Pavel Bem, and Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka, Mr Klaus laid flowers at the site where students on Narodni trida were attacked. A little later in the day the site was also visited by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek.
In its latest economic forecast the European Commission has rated as strong the Czech Republic's economic growth, 4.8 percent this year. According to the forecast the Czech economy will remain strong in the years 2006 and 2007, but growth will decelerate somewhat - to a predicted 4.3 percent by 2007. According to the commission, growth until now has been spurred by vigorous exports.
Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who scored the Czechs lone goal against Norway on Wednesday to secure the national side's first appearance at the football World Cup since 1990, reportedly played on painkillers. He had been doubtful with injuries to his knee and ankle. In the end, the player opened the scoring in the 35th minute at Prague's Sparta stadium, leading the Czechs to win the final play-off against Norway 2 goals to nil on aggregate. Rosicky has described his goal as the "most important of his career".
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Mian Khurshid Mahmud has thanked the Czech Republic for humanitarian aid sent to help Pakistan with recovery from a devastating earthquake in October. Mr Mahmud made his statement in Islamabad during a visit by his Czech counterpart Cyril Svoboda. Originally, the Czech Republic donated aid worth 110 million crowns, the equivalent of roughly 4.3 million US dollars. During the two men's meeting Mr Svoboda also met - unexpectedly - with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in Pakistan for a conference related to the effects of the earthquake; on October 8th some 80, 000 died as a result. Hundreds of thousands of others are said to still be in need.
Well-known Czech musician Michal Kocab, together with architect Borek
Sipek, were prevented from trying to hang a European Union flag at one
of the courtyards at Prague Castle on Thursday, after hinting they
might take just such a step in October. The move was blocked on
Thursday by a member of the Prague Castle guard. Previously, Mr Kocab
and Mr Sipek - architect to former president Vaclav Havel - expressed
dissatisfaction with the current president's refusal to fly the flag.
The EU flag can be flown together with the national flag at official
sites including the seat of government, the Foreign Ministry, as well
as the office of the president. Mr Klaus has declined the option so
His predecessor Vaclav Havel criticised Mr Klaus' decision on Thursday as "just short of scandalous".