The Czech President Vaclav Klaus outlined his vision of a future European Union to university students in Trento, northern Italy, where he received an honorary doctors' decree on Saturday. In his lecture, Mr. Klaus said the European Union had integrated more than was necessary or rational. He criticized what he called supranational decision-making in Brussels and recommended that the EU be redefined in line with the original idea of a free trade, open market region of strong, independent states.
A Czech airliner bound for New York was forced to turn back to Prague thirty minutes after take-off due to a technical problem on Saturday. A spokesman for CSA, the Czech national carrier, said a problem with the plane's computer system had necessitated the turn-back. The faulty component was replaced and the plane took off with a four hour delay.
The ultra-right National Party staged a demonstration outside the Office of the Sudeten German Association in Prague, which defends the interests of Germans expelled from the Sudetenlands at the end of WWII. About thirty members of the National Party unfurled banners reading "No Sudeten Germans in Prague" and "Send German waste back to Germany", the latter in reference to illegal imports of German waste to the neighbouring Czech Republic. The head of the party Petra Edelmannova slammed Czech politicians for allegedly failing to defend Czech national interests. The demonstration was to mark the 67th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia.
A 31-year-old Czech woman, Jana Tylova, became the top sudoku player in the world Saturday after winning the first world championships for the numbers-based game in Italy. Tylova, an economist from the city of Most, beat two citizens of the United States to triumph in the final after a two-day competition involving 85 players from 22 countries
Seven people in Prague have been charged in a state administration corruption case. Two of them are Transport Ministry officials, charged with accepting bribes. Five others, business and lobbying figures, with offering them. The arrest of the seven came on Thursday following a five-month sting operation by Czech police. It is not yet known whether the suspects will remain in custody or be released to await trial.
The lower house of Parliament has rejected a Penal Code amendment that would have explicitly banned promotion of communism or Nazism in the Czech Republic. The amendment, drafted by the country's Senate, was rejected in a reading with 135 deputies present. 68 voted against. All Communist MPs and a majority of Social Democrat deputies voted in favour of rejecting the bill. However, authors of the proposal say they will submit the amendment again - following supposed changes in the balance of power in the lower house, following national elections in June.
According to the Justice ministry, Czech businessman Dalibor Kopp, suspected of illegally exporting weapons to several countries including Iraq, will be extradited to the Czech Republic from Belgium. Mr Kopp, who is 43, was arrested in Brussels in January after a tip off from Prague. He had been wanted on an international arrest warrant since 2004. Mr Kopp and an accomplice have been charged with illegal trade in military materials and illegal arms possession. A search of Mr Kopp's company premises in the Czech Republic revealed an illegal production line for ammunition. Czech police said in January in a statement that if found guilty the suspect could face up to ten years in prison.
British Prime Minister and Labour Party head Tony Blair has met with his
Czech counterpart, Jiri Paroubek, in Prague. On Friday Mr Blair arrived in
the Czech capital ahead of a meeting of European Social Democrats. He
offered Mr Paroubek - and Czech Social Democrats - his support in upcoming
national elections. Following talks, Mr Blair praised the Czech Republic,
saying Britain saw the country as a "strong" and
"reliable" member of the European Union and NATO. Mr Blair also
praised strong Czech economic results.
In addition, the British prime minister donated an English double-decker bus for the Social Democrats for use in their pre-election campaign.
Borussia Dortmund striker Jan Koller, out of action since sustaining a
knee injury last September, has said he is keeping his hopes up for
this year's football World Cup in neighbouring Germany. Koller has told
the media his recovery is going well and that he hopes to be fit when
the World Cup finals begin on June 9th. The 32-year-old striker is the
Czech Republic's best ever goal scorer: he has netted 44 times in 66
Koller was part of the Czech team which reached the Euro semi-finals in Portugal in 2004.
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