Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer, who sharply criticized a year long delay in the expansion of the Schengen border-free zone at a meeting of EU interior ministers on Thursday, has said the Czech Republic would continue to push for the original date to be kept. The delay is allegedly caused by technical difficulties in setting up a new police data base for the expanded region. Mr. Langer said the Czech Republic supports a Portuguese proposal to upgrade the existing police data-base for the time being while simultaneously working on the new one. He said this would be worthwhile despite the fact that it would incur additional costs, because the delay itself would be very costly for the newcomer states. For instance 600 border policemen would have to be kept at the border instead of being moved elsewhere. A final decision is to be made in December.
President Vaclav Klaus on Friday met with Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to discuss the ongoing political crisis after his cabinet lost a vote of confidence in the lower house earlier this week. The president said that he would accept the prime minister's resignation next Wednesday and would ask the minority Civic Democrat government to remain in office until a new government can be appointed. Mr. Klaus indicated that he had a plan of action and said he would start negotiations with all parliamentary parties as soon as possible but he made it clear that he would not appoint a new prime minister designate before the end of October.
The daily Mlada Fronta Dnes claims that Jews were to have been the target of a planned terrorist attack in Prague. Quoting unidentified sources close to the country's intelligence services the daily reported that Islamic terrorists planned to kidnap dozens of Jews from a Prague synagogue and hold them hostage before murdering them. The paper does not say whether any arrests were made or specify the identity of the extremists. On September 23rd the Czech government tightened security measures around various sites in the Czech capital saying that the country faced the most serious threat of a terrorist attack ever, but gave no further details. Government officials have refused to comment on the Mlada Fronta Dnes report.
All thirteen deputies of the Christian Democratic Party have pledged not to support a Social Democrat government which would lean on the Communists for support. The pledge was made in writing at the initiative of the party leadership after two deputies indicated that they would not be averse to discussing such a possibility. Czech Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said on Thursday he could break the country's political deadlock within a fortnight if he was given the chance to form a government. Although he did not explicitly say so, such a government would have to rely on the Communist Party for support. The Christian Democratic Party leadership is now trying to dismiss speculation that some of its deputies might break ranks and enable such a government to rule. The Greens have said they would not support such a government under any circumstances.
Former Czech and Czechoslovak President, Vaclav Havel, is celebrating his 70th birthday on Thursday. Some one thousand people attended a private birthday party in Prague on Wednesday, including former Polish president Alexander Kwasniewski, playwright Tom Stoppard, Czech singer Karel Gott, and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. A former anti-communist dissident and playwright, Vaclav Havel was the country's first president after the fall of the communist regime and held the post until 2003.
Czech police say they have detained a 45-year-old Spanish man suspected of double murder in his home country. A spokeswoman for the counter-organised crime unit said that last June, the man, allegedly a contract killer, shot dead a man and a woman in Spain. The suspect has been remanded in custody and a court will decide on his extradition to Spain. The Czech police arrested the man in cooperation with their Spanish colleagues outside a block of flats in the town of Caslav in Central Bohemia where he was in hiding. Spain issued a European arrest warrant for him last month.
The Communist Party has said it should now be the Social Democrats' turn to try and put together a new cabinet after the minority Civic Democrat government of Mirek Topolanek failed to get confidence from the lower house this week. Under the Czech constitution President Vaclav Klaus is obliged to appoint a new prime minister after the current government resigns but he said through a spokesman that he will not do that until after the local and Senate elections due in a few weeks' time are over. The Social Democrats came second in the June general election, trailing after the right-of-centre Civic Democats.
The government has decided that the world-renowned Czech mathematician Jaroslav Kurzweil will be awarded the Czech Brain award for outstanding contribution to Czech science. Professor Kurzweil is a specialist in ordinary differential equations and defined the Perron integral, also known as the Henstock-Kurzweil integral.
One of the country's most influential and controversial businessmen did not report to Prague's Pankrac prison on Thursday to serve a five-year sentence, citing serious health reasons. His medical report will now be examined by the prison authority. The 35-year old Tomas Pitr, considered to be one the wealthiest Czech businessmen, was found guilty of large-scale tax fraud earlier this year.
The new Miss World 2006 Tatana Kucharova has arrived in Prague for the first time since she won the title last weekend in Warsaw. She has spent two days in London which is to become her home for the coming year. The 18-year-old blonde is the first ever Czech to win the title. She will only spend a few days in the Czech Republic and says that most of all she is looking forward to seeing her family again.
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