Thursday's attack on a Czech armoured vehicle in Baghdad does not appear to have been directed against the Czech Republic, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan told the CTK news agency on Friday. Mr. Bublan said that attacks on foreign armoured vehicles are not exceptional in Iraq and there was nothing in this case to indicate that the rebels intended to target a Czech vehicle or official. The armoured Toyota belonging to the Czech embassy was carrying military police officers from Bagdad Airport when the rebels opened fire. The heavily armoured car drove through the fire and continued on its way. No one was injured in the incident.
The Czech capital will witness its first ever flood exercises at the weekend to test the readiness, impact and effectiveness of emergency crews and newly erected flood barriers. The emergency exercise comes just three years after devastating floods wrecked havoc throughout the Czech Republic and other parts of central Europe. Some 500 specialists will be taking part in the exercise and some 50 trucks will transport mobile flood barriers. Fire fighters and police officers will be out in force, helping to set up barriers and guard closed off streets. City transport will be restricted in some parts of Prague.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has called for a test of the country's
preparedness in dealing with the consequences of a terrorist attack.
Following another series of explosions in London on Thursday, Mr. Paroubek
asked the Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan for members of the integrated
rescue system to stage an exercise simulating an emergency operation in
the wake of a terrorist attack.
The Prime Minister said he had no evidence to suggest that Prague was in
serious danger of an attack, emphasizing that the measure was
Following the terrorist attacks in London on July 7th the Czech Republic reinforced police patrols at key sites including the Prague metro, railways, airports and strategic buildings, as well as border crossings. Heightened security measures remain in effect.
Senator Alexander Novak of the Civic Democratic Party has been charged with bribery. According to the charges the senator accepted a 43 million crown bribe for mediating the sale of municipal shares in local power and gas distributing companies to a German firm. The Senator has refused to comment on the case. The Senate stripped him of parliamentary immunity in November of 2003. If found guilty, he could face up to eight years in prison.
The Polish Prime Minister, Marek Belka, in a visit to Prague on Thursday, praised as "brave" a proposed conciliatory gesture by Czech counterpart Jiri Paroubek, recognising the efforts of ethnic German anti-fascists in Czechoslovakia ahead of World War II. Mr Paroubek' s conciliatory gesture has already found backing from Austrian leader Wolfgang Schussel, but has not found support from figures like Czech president Vaclav Klaus or Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda. An estimated 2.5 million Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia following the Second World War.
The president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Thomas Dine, is expected to step down as president of the stations, based in the centre of Prague, later this year - although a spokesperson on Thursday failed to confirm an exact date. Mr Dine took over at RFE/RL in 1997, now broadcasting from Prague for ten years. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, financed by the US Congress, is still awaiting a final decision approved by the US Congress that would see the stations moved to a new location in the city away from the city's Wenceslas Square, where the station has been gauged as a security risk, ever since terrorist attacks took place in New York and Washington in September 2001.
A new poll released by the Stem agency has suggested that the fortunes
of the ruling Social Democratic Party have continued to improve,
following a damaging government crisis earlier in the year. According
to the poll, which backs the findings of another survey last month, the
Social Democratic Party would now gain some 21 percent of the vote, 2nd
behind the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. The latter party's numbers
have not changed, with voter support of 32 percent.
The latest poll suggests that the Communist Party would be third, while the Christian Democrats would be the last to make it into Parliament, at 7 percent, were elections held today.
Czech authorities have said no subsequent security measures have been
planned following a series of blasts in London on Thursday. Interior
Minister Frantisek Bublan said current measures were sufficient, and that
there was no need to call a meeting of the National Security Council.
Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kolar meanwhile said that not enough
specific information was currently available. On Thursday four detonators
exploded in the London subway and on one bus, injuring one, two weeks
after suicide bombers killed more than 50 people in the British capital.
London Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair called Thursday's
in London "very serious". Two suspects have been taken into
Following the deadly attacks in London on July 7th the Czech Republic reinforced police patrols at key sites including the Prague metro, railways, airports and strategic buildings, as well as border crossings.
Prague's Ruzyne international airport has registered a 15 percent rise in the number of visitors who passed through its gates in the first six months of this year, compared to last, a total of almost 5 million visitors. Airport representatives expect that as many as 10 million could pass through Ruzyne by the end of 2005. The Czech Airport Authority is currently building a new dispatch terminal which will be partly functional in August - and fully functional early next year. The project has cost a reported 8.5 billion crowns, around 340 million dollars US.
The prime ministers of both countries also discussed urgent matters including finding a compromise on the proposed EU budget for the years 2007 - 2013, a budget that failed to find backing at the most recent summit of the EU. Following Thursday's meeting the men made clear they would push for quick compromise while recognising the need for wider economic reform in the bloc. The EU failed to agree the budget plan for 2007-2013 last month after Britain blocked any deal which would limit its rebate unless there is a reform of farm subsidies which most benefit France.
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