The Czech Republic's ambassador to NATO, Stefan Fulle, has said the proposed US anti-missile defence base cannot be built in Europe without prior consultations within NATO and without being integrated into the alliance's system of command and control. The United States is now holding talks with the Czech Republic over a possible stationing of a radar site in the Brdy hills near Prague.
Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek told TV Nova on Saturday that his party will not pay Prague lawyer Zdenek Altner 176 million crowns (over 8 million USD) he is asking for in exchange for accepting an out-of-court settlement with the party regarding its alleged huge debt. The Social Democrats hired Mr Altner in a legal dispute over their Prague headquarters in the 1990s. He now says the party owes him 18 billion crowns (or 850 million US dollars) for his services. The amount demanded includes interest and sanctions.
Environment Minister Martin Bursik has been confirmed in the post of Green Party chairman by a national party convention which has been meeting in Prague this weekend. Education Minister Dana Kuchtova was re-elected deputy chairperson. Another party deputy chairman, Prague councillor Petr Stepanek, was replaced by Ondrej Liska in a vote on Sunday. Prior to the congress, the leadership of the party had announced it would step down and ask for re-election after a left-wing faction within the party disagreed with the Greens joining the centre-right coalition government along with the Civic and Christian Democrats.
Deputy Minister for Regional Development Miroslav Kalous has said an out-of-court settlement between property owners who are suing the Czech state over alleged damages incurred by the country's system of controlled rent is unlikely. The possibility of an out-of-court settlement was put forward by the property owners on Friday as a way of preventing a trial at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The property owners have demanded 50 billion crowns (the equivalent of 2.4 billion USD) from the state which the Ministry for Regional Development has refused to pay.
The planned US missile defence site will be on the agenda of Monday's meeting between Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and his Polish counterpart Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Mirek Topolanek is leaving for Warsaw on Monday for a two-day official trip. Other topics to be discussed include the European constitution, the situation of the Polish minority in the Czech Republic and relations with Germany.
Many towns and villages across the Czech Republic have been marking masopust or the traditional Czech carnival which comes before the fasting period of Lent. Processions of people wearing colourful masks and costumes have marched through villages and towns, celebrating the feast, which is traditionally accompanied by a zabijacka or pig-slaughter.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer has said he intends to discuss a planned reform of the police force with the opposition Social Democrats, namely his predecessor in the post Frantisek Bublan. According to Minister Langer, the proposed reform should concern the Interior Ministry's internal inspection, the powers of police officers and a system of education within the force. The reform should be implemented in 2009.
An express train bound for Warsaw derailed between Prague's Main Railway Station and Liben Station on Saturday morning. The engine and five carriages came off the rails but no injuries have been reported. The accident seriously disturbed railway traffic in the Czech Republic on Saturday as it affected one of the busiest railway routes in the country.
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