The Czech Foreign Minister on Thursday presented this year's Gratias Agit awards for promoting the good name of the Czech Republic around the world. Among the recipients was Jaroslava Moserova, a doctor, politician and translator who passed away last month. The Czech-born former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Olympic skiing champion Katerina Neumannova were also honoured in the ceremony, which took place at the Foreign Ministry.
Germany has expressed support for a Czech proposal under which target countries would have to approve the importation of waste for incineration. The two countries reached agreement on the issue at a meeting in Prague on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Czech Environment Ministry said. The suggestion will be discussed by the Council of Europe during a debate on waste export next month. There have been several cases this year of German rubbish being illegally imported into the Czech Republic.
Canada is unlikely to lift visa obligations for Czechs next month, according to the Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda. His Canadian counterpart, Peter MacKay, was due to announce the step on a visit to Prague in June, but Mr Svoboda said the trip had been cancelled. He said, however, that the Canadian government would continue to discuss the issue. During a recent visit to Canada, Mr Svoboda said Prague would take reciprocal measures unless Ottawa lifted its visa restrictions.
The Czech football players Rudolf Skacel, Roman Bednar and Michal Pospisil are celebrating helping their Scottish club Hearts qualify for the Champions League. The three were in action on Wednesday as Hearts beat Aberdeen to secure second place in the Scottish Premier League and reach the prestigious competition for the first time. Skacel is Hearts' top scorer this season with 16 goals.
The minister of agriculture, Jan Mladek, does not have a "confidential" category security clearance, after having an application refused by the National Security Office five years ago, Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Thursday. No official reason has been given, but the daily suggests Mr Mladek, a deputy finance minister in 2001, had contacts with Russian businessmen who Czech intelligence had under surveillance. He resigned from the post after the vetting rejection and kept it secret, the paper said.
President Vaclav Klaus has criticised negative campaigning ahead of the June parliamentary elections. He said that what was happening had never been the case in the past, that it is dishonest and could mislead voters. His comments came in response to a student's query regarding the billboard posters of the ruling Social Democrats which parody the opposition Civic Democrats slogan "ODS plus" with one which reads "ODS minus", as he visited a Prague secondary school on Wednesday. President Klaus said that a negative campaign is outrageous and questioned why it is not punishable. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats have also reacted to the approach, calling it "deplorable".
A Czech government delegation is to leave for Seoul, South Korea, on May 15th to sign a one billion euro contract with the South Korean car maker Hyundai which is to build a car plant in the Czech Republic. Hyundai Motor officials confirmed earlier this week that the project would go ahead despite the fact that the company's chairman is embroiled in an embezzlement scandal. A ceremony to mark the beginning of construction at the Nosovice plant, in the northeast of the Czech Republic, has been postponed indefinitely.
The European arrest warrant continues to be valid in the Czech Republic after the Constitutional Court on Wednesday rejected a proposal by opposition Civic Democrats to abolish related provisions in the penal code. They claimed that the European arrest warrant contravenes the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and "interferes with the foundations of the law-abiding state". The arrest warrant makes it possible to extradite Czech citizens abroad for criminal prosecution which, the court said, is not anti-constitutional. Judge Frantisek Duchon said that Czech citizens had to "accept a certain portion of responsibility" while benefiting from EU membership.
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