The Czech village of Horni Benesov has decided to award US Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry honorary citizenship as his ancestors hailed from the small mountain village. Kerry's great grandparents, Benedikt and Matilda Kohn and his grandfather Fritz Kohn lived in Horni Benesov before emigrating to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. "We are proud to have such a connection with a US presidential candidate and we want to show that someone whose ancestors came from a small mountain village can go on to achieve great things" the town's mayor said.
During talks with EC and European Parliament officials in Brussels, Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross expressed support for further EU integration. He said that the Continent would benefit from a unification of the criminal code and judiciary and spoke in favour of further EU expansion on the condition that it did not violate the integrity of the union. Asked whether his country would welcome the idea of holding a national referendum on Turkey's accession to the EU, Mr. Gross said he thought Ankara should be given the same conditions for entry as other EU members. To do otherwise would be unfair, the Czech Prime Minister noted.
Fifty Chinese illegal immigrants were discovered in the back of a truck at a Czech-German border crossing on Tuesday. A border police spokeswoman said the immigrants, who possessed no documents, would probably be taken to a Czech asylum centre. The lorry driver is being questioned. Last month Czech and Slovak border police detained a group of 80 Chinese illegal immigrants some of whom later admitted to having been part of a 500 member group that allegedly split up in Moscow to try to reach Germany, France and Italy illegally.
The government's human rights commissioner Jan Jarab has resigned from his post. Mr. Jarab confirmed that he had sent a letter of resignation to the Prime Minister but refused to discuss his decision, until he has the Prime Minister's response. Mr. Jarab is said to have received an offer to join the team of the Czech EU commissioner for labour and social affairs Vladimir Spidla. Asked about his future plans, Mr. Jarab said he would apply his experience to the same sphere - helping socially weak and discriminated groups of the population.
South Bohemia's Kovarov na Pisecku, a village of just over 1,400 inhabitants has been named "Village of the Year" in an annual competition. Important criteria include rich community life and social events, village reconstruction and care, and the non-traditional use of property. As reward for its efforts the village of Kovarov will receive one million crowns - the equivalent of approximately 35, 000 euros - from the Ministry for Local Development.
A new bill on prostitution currently under preparation in the Czech
Republic will require the country to back out of an international
agreement signed in 1958, aimed at fighting the trafficking of women.
By signing the International Convention Against Trafficking in Women
then-Czechoslovakia agreed not to pass future legislation supervising
prostitutes, something the new bill has proposed in order to regulate
legal age of prostitutes and their frequency of medical checks.
The government, which gave the go-ahead for the bill in April, is set to discuss the Czech Republic's repealing its commitment to the international treaty on Wednesday.
J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has topped a survey in the country titled "My Favourite Book" which ran in Czech libraries from March this year. Over 4,000 readers listed the Harry Potter books as their favourite, followed by J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in second place, and the Bible, in third. The top ten featured just one book by a Czech author, Saturnin, by Zdenek Jirotka. In all 93,000 Czech readers took part in the book survey, among them both children and adults.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in Prague for a day of talks with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, confirmed he would not back property lawsuits filed by Sudeten Germans at the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Speaking after meeting with the prime minister on Monday Mr Schroeder said that past issues should not hinder Germany and the Czech Republic's relations in the European Union. Earlier, on a visit to Poland in August, the German chancellor made a similar statement saying the German government disagreed with claims for compensation raised by ethnic Germans expelled from regions in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.
The interior minister, Frantisek Bublan, has defended the approach of the
police during the arrest on Thursday of two men charged with trying to
bribe an MP to bring down the government. Lobbyist Jan Vecerek was
arrested at his home at 6 a.m., while Marek Dalik - assistant to the head
of the Civic Democrats - was detained a couple of hours later. They were
released on Friday after the state attorney rejected a police request to
remand them in custody.
President Vaclav Klaus was one of several politicians who criticized the manner of the arrests, calling them "theatrical". However, speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Minister Bublan said politicians ought not to evaluate investigations while they were still taking place.
MP Zdenek Koristka says Mr Dalik and Mr Vecerek, acting on behalf of Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, offered him 10 million crowns (around 300,000 euros) to bring down the government, which has a majority of just one, in a confidence vote. The main opposition party strenuously deny the allegation.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who Mr Topolanek has suggested is behind the whole affair, said on Sunday that whoever had a clear conscience had no reason to be "hysterical".
Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych has capped a great year by winning his first ATP title, the Sicily International tournament. Berdych, who recently turned 19, won almost $400,000 prize money when he beat Italy's Filippo Volandri 6-3 6-3 in Sunday's final. The Czech hit the headlines during the Olympic Games, when he knocked out world number one Roger Federer.
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