Czech President Vaclav Klaus has begun a two-day visit in France. He met with his French counterpart Jacques Chirac in Paris on Tuesday, expressing confidence the visit would allow for serious discussion on the future role of the Czech Republic in the European Union. Shortly preceding his visit, however, Mr Klaus gave a somewhat stormy interview to the French daily Le Figaro, expressing scepticism towards the current "Federalist" direction of European integration. In the interview Mr Klaus called the European constitution - put forward in draft form last month by the Convention on the Future of the EU - "unnecessary". He also repeated a statement made last month when Czechs voted on EU accession, that there was real danger that the Czech Republic would dissolve in the European Union. In his words: "like a lump of sugar in a cup of coffee".
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has thanked Constitutional Court judges for their work at a farewell ceremony at Prague Castle on Monday. On July 15, eight of the fifteen judges at the court retire after a ten year term. While President Klaus has already nominated suitable candidates to the constitutional court, their appointment is yet to be approved by the Senate, which is expected to meet on Wednesday.
The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, has held talks in Jerusalem with the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and other senior Israeli officials. Mr Svoboda said on Sunday the two countries had longstanding good relations. The foreign minister did not meet representatives of the Palestinian Authority; he is planning to visit the territory in August.
The foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, has reopened the Czech embassy in
Baghdad. Mr Svoboda also held talks with the American civil administrator
of Iraq, Paul Bremer, who praised the Czech government for the part it is
playing in the reconstruction of the country. Mr Svoboda was also due to
visit Basra on Saturday and to meet members of a Czech military field
hospital based in the city. On Sunday the foreign minister is moving on to
Israel, where he will meet Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other senior
Meanwhile the Czech Catholic Charity Association has sent a tonne and a half of medicines to Iraq. The medicines, mainly antibiotics and vitamins for children, were flown to Basra on Friday night in a Defence Ministry plane.
More than a dozen people were injured when a local passenger train collided with a truck at Rokytnice in the Orlicke Mountains, east Bohemia on Saturday. The truck driver was flown to hospital in Hradec Kralove with serious head injuries. The train was derailed in the accident, which occurred at an unmarked crossing between two towns in the mountains.
A 21-year-old man burned himself to death in the north Moravian town of Frydek-Mistek on Friday evening. The man, said to have been a drug addict, doused himself in flammable liquid and set it alight. He died before doctors managed to reach the scene. It was the 17th case of suicide, or attempted suicide, by burning in the Czech Republic since the beginning of March.
The leader of Britain's opposition Conservatives has unveiled his party's vision of Europe during a visit to Prague. Conservative leader Ian Duncan Smith signed a declaration in the Czech capital on Thursday calling for the strengthening of national democracies to resist the formation of what he called a European superstate. Mr Duncan Smith, speaking to reporters after meeting President Vaclav Klaus, said his party supported European integration, but opposed unification and excessive bureaucracy. The declaration was also signed by the party Mr Klaus led until last year - the opposition Civic Democrats. The Czech Republic will be one of 10 new countries to join the EU next year.
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