Former Czech prime minister Vladimir Spidla is finally taking up his post as European commissioner for labour and social affairs on Monday, after a delay of three weeks caused by a standoff with EU lawmakers over the makeup of the Commission. Mr Spidla replaces Pavel Telicka, who was appointed the Czech Republic's first commissioner after the country joined the EU in May.
Roman Sebrle was named Czech Athlete of the Year for the third time at a ceremony in Prague on Saturday night. He had been widely expected to win the award after taking gold in the decathlon at the Olympic Games in Athens. High jumper Jaroslav Baba was second in the poll, with discus thrower Vera Cechlova-Pospisilova coming third.
The opposition Civic Democrats believe early elections are the best possible solution to the current political situation, senior party figure Vlastimil Tlusty said on Czech Television on Sunday. Mr Tlusty said, however, the Civic Democrats would not submit a bill to force early elections until it became clear the move would win sufficient support. While the government has been weakened following regional and Senate elections, the next general elections are due in mid-2006.
The president of the Czech Union of Judges has said court verdicts should be simple enough for even a child to understand. Addressing a meeting of judges on Saturday, Jaromir Jirsa said a judgment a child could not comprehend was not a good verdict. He also said judges should be more open to public scrutiny and that verdicts should be published on the internet.
Defence Minister Karel Kuhnl has said the next Czech Army contingent sent to Kosovo will be better trained and equipped to deal with ethnic tensions in the province. Mr Kuhnl, on a visit to a Czech base in Pristina, said the troops being sent there next month would be ready for the kind of violence that left dozens dead after clashes between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs earlier this year.
Zdenek Skromach on Saturday outlined his policies to a meeting of the ruling Social Democrats in Brno, a few days after he announced he would stand against acting chairman Stanislav Gross for the leadership of the party. Mr Skromach is expected to dissolve the present coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union if he wins the post at a party conference in April. Mr Skromach is supported by former Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman, who is critical of Mr Gross.
The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, has said he is "one hundred percent against" the proposed European Constitution, saying it created a new legal, constitutional and political "European state". Speaking at a conference in Berlin on Saturday, Mr Klaus said the constitution would lead to a loss of national identity, sovereignty and political independence. It was one of the strongest statements yet from the president, who has been a frequent critic of European integration.
Czech ice hockey megastar Jaromir Jagr has got off to a losing start at his new club Omsk, after the Russian league team were beaten 2:1 by Khimik Voskresensk on Friday. Jagr, playing in Europe because of an NHL lockout, recently attracted large crowds in the Czech Republic when he appeared at the club at which he started his career, Kladno.
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