The Czech military says it is not planning to take its Russian made transport planes out of operation in the wake of Thursday's plane crash which killed 42 Slovak soldiers returning from a KFOR mission in Kosovo. It is not yet clear what caused the Slovak military's Russian-made Antonov 24 veer off course and crash in a mountain area close to the border. A Czech military spokesman said that the Czech air force discarded its last Antonov 24 last year, and the remaining Antonov 26 planes were reliable and well-maintained.
Finland and Spain have indicated they may open their labour markets to the new EU members before the end of this year. The Czech Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach, who attended a meeting with his EU counterparts in the Austrian town of Villach on Friday said that although no decision had been reached the diplomatic signals from Madrid and Helsinki were encouraging. Germany and Austria, on the other hand, have made it clear that they will extend the labour market restrictions by another three years.
The Czech women's tennis number one Nicole Vaidisova has advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open, after beating Flavia Pennetta of Italy. Meanwhile, Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic was knocked out of the competition by Slovak-born Martina Hingis. Benesova had previously overcome fifth-seed Mary Pierce of France.
A gathering of the ultra right National Party at Lety, the site of a wartime camp for Romanies, sparked an incident with Roma rights activists. Witnesses say there was a brief skirmish and two Roma rights activists, who shouted "away with neo-Nazis" were detained by the police. One of them was Markus Pape, a well known Roma rights lawyer. The police say that Mr. Pape committed a misdemeanour when he interrupted the gathering of the National Party. Mr. Pape says that he was physically attacked by three members of the party and will press charges.
The Czech minister of defence, Karel Kuhnl, has described as a terrible tragedy Thursday's air crash in which 42 Slovak soldiers died. Mr Kuhnl said the crash was all the sadder for the Czech Republic because the Slovaks had served side by side with Czech soldiers in the United Nations KFOR mission in Kosovo. He also expressed his deepest sympathy to Slovakia's defence minister, Juraj Liska.
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