The Foreign Ministry and President Vaclav Klaus's office have reached an agreement under which the president's wife Livia can stand in for him on trips abroad, the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Friday. Mrs Klausova is due to attend the inauguration of President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines on Monday when Mr Klaus will be at a NATO summit in Istanbul.
Two new stations were opened on the C line of the Prague metro system on Friday. The new stations are at Kobylisy and Ladvi in the north of the capital. Prague's underground rail network recently celebrated the 30th anniversary of its opening; in 1974 the system consisted of just nine stations, and ran from Kacerov to Florenc.
The leadership of two of the three parties in the governing coalition will
be decided this weekend, with most attention focused on the battle for the
top post in the Social Democrats. Party chief Vladimir Spidla faces a vote
of confidence on Saturday - if he is loses and is replaced by challenger
Stanislav Gross, Mr Spidla says he will also step down as prime minister
and bring down the government.
Meanwhile, the smallest party in the coalition, the Freedom Union, are choosing a new leader, after Petr Mares resigned in the wake of their disastrous showing in European Parliament elections. The man most likely to succeed Mr Mares is Local Development Minister Pavel Nemec. Mr Nemec is in favour of the Freedom Union remaining part of the government, though the issue is sure to be hotly debated at this weekend's party conference in Hradec Kralove.
Prague Airport saw a record number of 521 take-offs and landings on
Thursday, said a spokesperson. Last year the record number of flights
was also recorded in June, though the number was 20 percent lower than
that recorded on Thursday.
In related news, the Hungarian budget airline Wizz Air has opened a low-cost route between Budapest and Prague. It will fly between the two capitals four times a week.
The Czech football team are preparing for a quarter-final clash with Denmark at the European Championships in Portugal on Sunday evening. Czech striker Milan Baros said on Friday he hoped the footballers would not go the same way as the country's ice hockey team, who promised a lot but were beaten in the quarter-finals of this year's World Championships.
The lower house of parliament has rejected the draft amendment increasing radio and television licence fees. The fees were last raised in 1997, to 75 crowns per month and household for owning a TV set, and to 37 crowns for owning a radio. The public service broadcaster Czech Television says that if the fees do not increase soon, it will have to limit the production of original programmes. Czech Radio has also expressed worries about financial troubles.
The Czech Senate has approved the deployment of the Czech anti-chemical unit in operations of NATO rapid-response forces for the second half of the year. The Senate's vote enables the government to decide by itself on the unit's deployment. However, parliament will have to vote separately on the deployment of around 100 Czech military chemical specialists to Greece to protect the summer Olympic Games, on which the government decided last Wednesday. Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka said Greece was not interested in having the multinational NATO unit guard the events, just the Czech specialists. Minister Kostelka added that the chemical experts would stay longer in Athens than the assumed 60 days, since they will also have to guard the Paralypmic Games scheduled for immediately afterwards. The Senate is due to vote on the deployment at a special session on July 13, shortly before the unit's scheduled departure at the end of the month.
The Czech Statistics Office has said that even though nearly 1,000 more babies were born in the first quarter of 2004 than in the same period in 2003, birth rates in the Czech Republic continue to remain among the lowest in Europe and the world. Despite the recent slight increase, the average number of births per woman between the ages of 15 and 49 has not risen, and remains at 1.18 children. During the 1990s, experts explained the low number of births by a tendency among young people to delay parenthood and enjoy the increased career and study opportunities that opened up after the fall of communism. However, after over a decade, the situation remains unchanged. One of the reasons cited by the Czech Statistics Office for Czech women's reluctance to have more children is a lack of part-time employment opportunities.
Around 4,000 Czech football fans are expected to arrive in the Portuguese city of Oporto on Sunday to watch the quarterfinal match between the Czech and Danish team in the Euro 2004 football tournament. A representative of the Czech Football Union has said that 3,800 tickets for the match were sold in the Czech Republic, but there may be many other Czech fans in Oporto who bought their tickets from other sources.
Genetic information is going to be included among sensitive personal data, under a draft amendment to the law on personal data protection that was passed by the lower house on Thursday. Approved by the Senate earlier, the bill will take effect once it is signed by President Vaclav Klaus. Under the current law, sensitive information includes people's national, racial and ethnic origin, political stance, trade union membership, religion, criminal record, state of health and sexual life. The amendment changes the fines imposed for breaching the law. Under the current law, the fines range between 25,000 and 20 million crowns. Under the amendment, the lower and the upper limits are 100,000 and 10 million crowns.
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