The 63rd anniversary of the end of World War II was marked by a number of events in the Czech Republic on Thursday. Czech President Václav Klaus laid a wreath at a monument to Czech soldiers who lost their lives in the service of other countries’ armies in a ceremony attended by veterans and other senior politicians. Mr Klaus also appointed three new generals to the Czech Army. The Chamber of Deputies, the Senate and the prime minister’s residence were opened to the public, on what was a state holiday.
The Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, made an unannounced visit to Czech soldiers in Afghanistan on Thursday. His visit came a week after a soldier from the Czech Republic became the country’s second combat casualty in Afghanistan. Mr Topolánek first stopped at a field hospital at Kabul airport, before travelling to the province of Logar, where a Czech provincial reconstruction team is operating. The PM told Czech soldiers they were mostly the same age as his oldest child and when one of them was killed or injured it felt as if it had happened to his own child. By coincidence, the second Czech to die in combat in Afghanistan was killed hours after the Czech Parliament approved the sending of 100 extra soldiers to the war-torn country.
A Czech soldier was injured in a rocket attack on an allied forces military base in the Iraqi city of Basra on Thursday, the news website Novinky.cz reported. The soldier, whose hand was hit by shell splinter, underwent an operation at a British field hospital. His condition is stable and his life is not in danger. The chief of staff of the Czech Army, Vlastimil Picek, said the injured man would be brought home.
A new section of Prague’s Metro system was officially opened on Thursday. The C or red line has been extended by three stations, and 4.6 km, from Ládví to Letňany. It will now serve 50,000 more residents of the Czech capital. Speaking at Thursday’s opening ceremony, Prague’s mayor Pavel Bém said extension work would not stop there: nine new stations are to be added to the A or green line, including one at Prague Airport, and a whole new D line is to be built.
A goal by Czech footballer Karel Poborský at the European Championship in 1996 has been voted the greatest individual goal in the history of the competition in a poll on its official website. Poborský cleverly lifted the ball over the Portuguese goalkeeper in the quarter-finals of Euro 96. That lob proved valuable: soon afterwards the midfielder was signed by Manchester United, before going on to a more successful engagement at Benfica. He made a record 118 appearances for the Czech national team.
The Czech Republic, unlike its Eastern neighbour Slovakia, is not ready to adopt the single European currency in the near future, according to a report issued by the European Commission on Wednesday. The country doesn’t meet the Maastricht criteria on exchange rate and currency stability. The European Commission on Wednesday gave Slovakia the green light for euro adoption, clearing the way for it to become the zones 16th member and the second country from Eastern Europe’s former communist bloc to join.
The foreign ministry has decided to earmark another 2.5 million crowns for the victims of the devastating cyclone in Burma. The Czech government is sending altogether 5 million crowns to the devastated region. People in Need and Charity of the Czech Republic have already set up special accounts for public contributions. The cyclone Nargis has so far claimed more than 22.500 people, while another 41,000 are missing.
Foreigners staying in the Czech Republic will face fewer restrictions when marrying a Czech national, under an amendment passed by the lower chamber of Czech parliament on Wednesday. Foreigners facing expulsion or registered as persona non grata will be able to enter into marriage or registered partnership in case they submit a police certificate justifying their stay in the country. The legislation is yet to be discussed by the Senate.