The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolanek, has criticised the European Commission's recommendation that the opening of the Schengen zone to the new European Union ten be delayed for a year. The Commission says borders should be opened to the newest members in October 2008 or later - not October 2007 as originally planned. Speaking after a meeting with his Polish counterpart Jaroslaw Kaczynski at a conference in Helsinki, Mr Topolanek said the two leaders had agreed the "mistake" was completely on the part of the European Commission.
Tens of Egyptian asylum seekers have escaped from a reception centre in Velke Prilepy near Prague, the Interior Ministry said. Three of the refugees have been caught, while police continue to search for 27 others. The break-out is believed to have been instigated by a people-smuggling gang. It was not the first incident of its kind - around 40 asylum seekers escaped from Velke Prilepy at the end of last month.
Martina Navratilova has ended her remarkable career on a high, winning the
mixed doubles at the US Open - her 59th Grand Slam title. The Czech-born
tennis legend and partner Bob Bryan of the United States beat the Czech
duo of Kveta Peschke and Martin Damm 6-2 6-3 in Saturday's final.
Addressing the crowd after the match, Martina Navratilova said thanks for
a great ride, while her partner Bryan congratulated her on the best tennis
career of all time. Navratilova is quitting the sport just a month ahead of
her 50th birthday.
Meanwhile, Czech player Martin Damm made amends for defeat in the mixed doubles final by winning the men's doubles with Leander Paes of India. The US Open is the first Grand Slam title for Damm, who is 34.
The new minister of the interior, Ivan Langer, says Ceska Posta (Czech Post) could be transformed into a private company by the start of 2008. Mr Langer said as the current government is only seeking a one-year mandate he would like to prepare the ground for a decision on the privatisation by the next cabinet. The current government - which faces a difficult vote of confidence at the start of October - plans to incorporate the Information Technology Ministry into the Interior Ministry.
The minister of defence, Jiri Sedivy, believes it would be better for
the Czech Republic to take part in a United States anti-missile defence
system as part of NATO, rather than with the US alone. Speaking in
Saturday's Pravo, Mr Sedivy said if the system was developed through
NATO it could increase the cohesion of the alliance in the long term.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic's ambassador to NATO, Stefan Fule, said the US was apparently going to decide on the most suitable location for a proposed base in central Europe after a NATO summit in November. US military experts have visited potential sites in the Czech Republic, though Poland is also in the running to host the base.
The head of the Social Democrats, Jiri Paroubek, has called on Civic Democrat prime minister Mirek Topolanek to resign, following the launching of an investigation into alleged fraud at a company formerly co-owned by Mr Topolanek. It was reported on Friday that the police were looking into allegations the prime minister and his then partners in the firm VAE obtained a 67-million-crown loan (3 million USD) from a bank but did not repay it in its entirety. Mr Topolanek says the investigation does not concern him directly.
The Czech Republic and the other nine countries which joined the European
Union in 2004 face a delay of at least a year before borders with the EU's
15 other states are opened, according to a European Commission report
quoted by Reuters. The EU had previously planned to let the 10 states into
its border-free Schengen area in October 2007 - the European Commission now
says technical and legal problems will probably mean that Schengen will not
be expanded until October 2008.
The Czech Republic and a number of other countries had called earlier in the week for the original timetable to be respected.
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