Meanwhile, an adviser to the education minister said on Friday after a discussion about the education of Romanies that some children might be legally required to go to kindergarten from the age of five, a year earlier than children normally start school in the Czech Republic. Martin Profant said the aim of the plan was to make Romany children better prepared for elementary school, and therefore less likely to end up in schools for children with learning difficulties.
Health Minister Milada Emmerova and Ombudsman Otakar Motejl have decided to set up a special committee to look into allegations the Czech Republic has tolerated the coercive sterilisation of Roma women. The Budapest-based European Roma Rights Centre says it has evidence of several such cases, mostly during the 1990s.
The Czech Republic's football team are preparing for a qualifying game for the 2006 World Cup, against Romania in Prague on Saturday evening. Since reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2004, things have not been going well for the Czechs, who lost their first qualifier to Holland and saw captain Pavel Nedved retire. Furthermore, they have not scored a goal in almost five hours of play. On Wednesday they travel to Armenia for their third World Cup qualification match.
Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek is the first since 1996 to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Elfriede Jelinek, whose father is of Czech-Jewish origin, is best-known for her autobiographical 1983 novel 'The Piano Teacher', which was made into a movie in 2001. The Swedish Academy praised "her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power". But, in Austria, Elfriede Jelinek is a controversial figure, as she was a member of the Communist Party from 1974-1991. The prestigious Nobel Prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns, or some 1.36 million US dollars. Czech author Milan Kundera had been considered a favourite to win the Nobel Prize this year.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus and his Slovak counterpart Ivan Gasparovic
have both maintained that a bilateral agreement on border controls need
not be formal. The two presidents met during Mr Klaus' one day official
visit to Slovakia on Thursday. Since Czechoslovakia split into the two
countries after the so-called "Velvet Divorce" of 1993, controls
along their respective borders have been of a symbolic nature. However,
with Slovaks and Czechs in the European Union, they are required to
introduce any unusual border controls with an official bilateral
During his visit, Mr Klaus also said he did not expect a Czech referendum on Turkey's accession to the EU. Besides holding talks with Mr Gasparovic, the Czech president also received an honorary doctorate at the University of Economics in Bratislava and signed his books in a bookshop in the city centre. Thursday's trip is Mr Klaus' second visit to Slovakia in six months.
The Czech Republic can expect to record its lowest balance of trade deficit since 1993, according to former Czech finance minister and Raiffeisenbank economist Pavel Mertlik. The positive development is attributed to the fact that Czech exports have increased significantly with EU membership. Mr Mertlik predicts this year's deficit to range from 50 to 60 billion crowns, as opposed to the 70 billion recorded in 2003 and 2002.
Midfielder Tomas Galasek has been selected as the new captain of the Czech Republic, following the retirement from international football of Pavel Nedved. Galasek, who is 31 and plays for Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam, was chosen as captain by his Czech teammates, who are in Prague preparing for World Cup qualifying games against Romania and Armenia.
Current Czech law on the trade in military equipment is outdated and needs to be amended, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said on Thursday. Speaking after a National Security Council meeting, he noted the law is ten years old and fails to meet EU requirements. According to Mr Bublan, legislative and organisational changes in relations to the respective ministries and other state bodies concerned with the security system also need to be introduced. The new law should monitor the export of weapons more effectively and regulate trade in other military equipment, such as the "Vera" radar system, which various countries, including the United States and China, have expressed an interest in.
The Czech new agency CTK has reported that the senior government Social Democrats are planning to use banners on popular internet portals and large print advertisements as part of their election campaign before November's regional and Senate elections. The party has already launched a massive billboard campaign coupled with huge concerts to take place in 14 cities with major Czech pop stars. The party says that the total cost of the campaign will be 30 million crowns (1 million euros) but has been reluctant to answer questions on the fees being paid out to the pop stars for their performances.
The American company Boeing has decided to give up its share in the aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody for a symbolic amount of 2 crowns to the Czech state. The move proposed by the Finance Ministry was approved by the government on Wednesday. Both sides had been holding talks on a settlement since last winter and the contracts were completed only several weeks ago. Boeing first entered Aero in 1998 with a promise to help it enter foreign markets. However, it failed to keep the promise and the Czech government decided in February that the strategic partnership with Boeing would be terminated.
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