Disagreements have emerged within the ruling Social Democrats over pay rises for the police, the fire service and prison guards, the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Friday. Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, a former interior minister, has called for provisions for the pay increases in next year's budget, while some MPs from the party say they would not support the move unless teachers and doctors also got rises.
President Vaclav Klaus has arrived in Kyrgyzstan as part of an official tour of Central Asia. Speaking in the capital Bishkek on Friday, Mr Klaus said people in the Czech Republic had forgotten the region in recent years as they concentrated on joining the European Union. He said it was important to re-establish connections with Central Asia, and that there was more to the world than Europe. The Czech president is due to move on to Uzbekistan before returning to Prague on Wednesday.
Joint Czech-British military exercises are to continue in south Moravia despite the deaths of six British participants in a helicopter crash on Thursday. However, helicopters being used in the exercises will remain grounded until the cause of the crash has been ascertained, a spokesperson for the Czech Air Force said on Friday. Some reports suggest the four soldiers and two crew were killed after their aircraft hit high-tension wires. The joint exercises began earlier this week and are due to continue until next Friday.
On a working visit to Germany, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda on Thursday criticized a French proposal to axe structural funds for new EU members. In talks with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer, minister Svoboda pointed out that the debate on the future EU budget would be taking place alongside a debate on the future EU constitution and that it would be impossible to keep the two issues separate. Every country in the EU cares about finances, the Czech Foreign Minister said. In view of the financial burden of the recent EU expansion, some of the economically stronger nations such as France and Germany are now considering lowering their annual contribution to EU coffers in the years between 2007 and 2013. This would have an adverse effect on the newcomer states.
An express train from Pilsen to Brno got de-railed on Thursday morning due to a wrongly positioned shunt. No one was hurt in the accident. According to Czech Railways there was a problem with technology and the shunts were being switched manually in the course of the morning. The signalman responsible for the accident has suffered a nervous break down and has had to be hospitalized. Material damage has been assessed at close to half a million Czech crowns.
!8-year-old Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych has failed to go through
to the U.S. Open quarterfinals, underway in Flushing Meadows, New York.
Berdych faced German national Tommy Hass in a 7-6, 6-1, 7-5 loss, but
had the upper hand in the first set tie-break. He subsequently lost
control of his game at 6-3, allowing Haas to come back.
Tomas Berdych was the last Czech in the U.S. Open, the 4th and final grand-slam event of the tennis season.
In all likeliness, former Czech president Vaclav Havel will not be the only Czech candidate in the running for the Andrej Sacharov Award for the spirit of liberty, nominated by members of the European Parliament. Czech left-of-centre euro-parliamentarians are also considering nominating renowned Czech author Arnost Lustig. Also being considered are students in Belarus actively opposed to the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
On Wednesday the government approved the possibility to deploy over
10,000 soldiers and hundreds of military vehicles in severe emergency
situations. The cabinet approved six possible scenarios in which
military troops could be deployed, including the event of a terrorist
attack, extensive floods, forest fires, serious industrial accidents,
cases of mass migration, or widespread epidemics. The document was put
together by the ministries of the interior and defence, in cooperation
with additional experts.
Within the crisis scenarios, the military could be called to help guard the state border, provide evacuation for inhabitants, help in the construction of emergency access roads and bridges, as well as provide accommodation facilities.