The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has shocked politicians and economists by saying that there was no urgent need for a pension reform in the Czech Republic. In an interview for the Bloomberg agency published on-line, the Prime Minister said that the current reform system would not overburden the state budget for another 20 years and that the increasing birth rate would further improve the situation. There is no urgency for reform in this sphere, Mr. Paroubek said, sweeping aside EU warnings regarding the need to speed up reforms of the pension and health care systems. The head of one of the smaller governing parties Miroslav Kalousek of the Christian Democrats has said that dallying with the pension reform would be irresponsible.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has challenged the president to do a number of one-on-one radio and TV debates with him on the European Union. In an interview for the Frekvence 1 radio programme, the Social Democrat prime minister, who is pro EU-integration, said he and the president, who is strongly critical of the direction in which the EU is heading, should put their arguments to the nation in a language that people could understand. Debates at closed meetings or articles in the media do not have the desired impact, Mr. Paroubek said. The daily Lidove Noviny recently published a lengthy article in which President Klaus presented his vision of a future Europe- an organization of European states benefiting from free trade but not restricted in their sovereignty.
Libya has recalled two of its diplomats to Prague, whose sons were accused of raping a 10 year old boy. The Czech Foreign Ministry said it had urged Libya to take this course of action on the grounds of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. Three Libyan boys all aged 13 recently assaulted two 10 year old Czech boys at a playground. One of the boys was allegedly raped, the other managed to resist the assault. One of the boys' fathers, a well known journalist and writer, described the incident in a Czech magazine. A spokeswoman for the Prague police has confirmed that a rape investigation took place but said the matter was dropped because of the suspects' ages.
Britain's Prince Edward, who is on a two day goodwill visit to the Czech Republic, on Tuesday handed out awards at the British Embassy to the Czech winners of the Duke of Edinburgh Youth Programme. On Monday the Prince visited the Royal Golf Club in the spa town of Marianske Lazne, also known as Marienbad, a club that his great-great grandfather King Edward VII opened exactly a century ago.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has rejected President Klaus's view that multiculturalism is the fundamental cause of terrorism. Mr Klaus said in an interview for Saturday's edition of the paper Mlada Fronta Dnes that multiculturalism is a tragic mistake of Western civilization for which all pay dear. He said it was the fundamental if not direct cause of terrorism. The prime minister told journalists that he did not share the president's view of the world.
The second reactor of the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia has been connected to the grid, ending a three-month planned shutdown, a spokesman for the plant said. During the reactor's closure a quarter of fuel was replaced and equipment checked. But according to the spokesman, the reactor will not be running at full capacity because of a defect found on the turbine's rotor. Temelin switched to full operation on October 11, 2004. Since then, the second reactor has had to be closed twice due to technical faults. The Temelin nuclear power plant has been a cause of controversy in recent years because it combines Soviet and American technologies, and critics have claimed that it is unsafe.
Some 80 Czech soldiers have left for Kosovo to replace their colleagues in the NATO KFOR mission in the province, the Defence Ministry said on Monday. The unit rotation started last Monday and should be completed on July 22. As of August 1, the Czech Republic will take over from Finland the command of the Centre Multinational Brigade in Kosovo for one year. The brigade is overseeing one of the four zones in Kosovo supervised by the NATO KFOR mission. The Czech military will command about 1,600 soldiers from five European countries. The Czech Republic has participated in the Kosovo mission since 1999.
The Prague City Court has approved a 10-year prison sentence that a Swedish court handed down in 2002 to a 30-year old Czech for drug trafficking. The ruling means the man, Ladislav Zerovnicky, could be extradited and serve his sentence in the Czech Republic. However, Mr Zerovnicky says he would like to stay in the Swedish prison. His defence counsel argues that Mr Zerovnicky is studying English and information technology in the Swedish prison and would like to complete his studies. Swedish police detained Mr Zerovnicky in July 2001 after customs officers found almost 17 kilos of heroin in his car.
The Czech Republic is lagging behind in adopting EU legislation, according to data released on Monday. The Czech Republic has the worst results of the ten new member states that joined the European Union in May last year. The statistics relating to June 1 show that the Czech Republic has failed to introduce in time 3.6 percent of EU regulations, which means 57 laws. Slovakia is performing much better, with 1.4 percent of legislation remaining to be adopted. The first three places with 0.7 percent were occupied by Hungary, Slovenia and Lithuania. Behind the Czech Republic are Greece, Luxembourg and Italy.
An engine powered glider crashed near Tabor, southern Bohemia, on Saturday, killing the pilot and severely injuring a young woman passenger. Just before the crash the pilot reported engine failure and said he was going to attempt an emergency landing. A team of experts are investigating the cause of the accident.
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