If a government tax and social welfare reform bill is approved the Czech Army could see a reduction in its budget, said Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova. Budget cuts could result in military spending dropping below this year's level of 1.55 percent of GDP, she said. Minister Parkanova added that plans to purchase new technology may have to be revised, but said the country's participation in missions overseas was not under threat. NATO recommends that member states devote 2 percent of GDP to defence spending.
A group of non-governmental organisations have issued a statement condemning the fact that the Czech Republic has not signed up to the International Criminal Court. It is the only country in the European Union not to have done so. The Czech Foreign Ministry said it was working on a draft proposal on the issue which would be put to parliament. Prime Minister Topolanek has previously said the Czech Republic will ratify joining the court by the beginning of its presidency of the EU in 2009.
States can invest in more environmentally friendly technology AND still experience economic growth, Britain's deputy prime minister John Prescott said on a visit to Prague. He spoke on the subject of climate change at a discussion in the Czech capital on Tuesday, before holding talks with the Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra. As well as global warming, Mr Prescott also discussed the Czech Republic's presidency of the European Union in 2007 with the two men.
Visitors to Milotice in south Moravia will be able to try on traditional folk costumes (kroj) from this June, say the organisers of a folk costume exhibition in former stables at the town's castle. There will be a mock-up of an old cottage on the site and tourists will be able to have their photographs taken in various different types of kroj.
Roma activists and representatives of NGOs have held a demonstration
against Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek. Over a hundred protesters
gathered outside the Office of the Government on Wednesday to call for his
departure from cabinet. The controversial politician came out and
to hold a discussion with some demonstrators, but was met with whistles.
Mr Cunek came in for criticism from across the political spectrum after seeming to disparage Romanies in a newspaper interview. He is also under investigation for alleged bribe-taking. However, the Christian Democrats leader has proclaimed his innocence in both instances and has resisted calls for him to step down.
But Jiri Cunek's affairs have had one "casualty": MP Pavel Severa is stepping down as deputy chairman of the Christian Democrats deputies' club, after his calls for the party leader's departure went unheeded.
Management at the Skoda Auto car plant in Mlada Boleslav offered
workers a pay-rise of 10 percent during discussions with trade union
officials on Wednesday. The unions, who have been threatening to go on
strike alert, have not made clear what the minimum increase they would
accept is. They are set to respond to Skoda Auto's offer on Thursday.
Elsewhere, the company Skoda Steel is to stop using the Skoda name and logo from June. The company will be known as Pilsen Steel.
The government on Wednesday approved a "national plan" to adopt the euro, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told reporters. However, the document does not set a concrete date for the introduction of the common European currency. The prime minister said it made no sense to discuss a date until a package of reforms outlined last week is approved by parliament. Previously the Czech Finance Ministry has given 2012 as a realistic date for euro adoption.
The Czech football goalkeeper Petr Cech has reached the semi-finals of the Champions League with his club Chelsea, after they beat Valencia on Tuesday night. Cech has already won the English League Cup with Chelsea this season, while the club are also still in the running for the Premiership and the FA Cup. Only two Czechs have ever won the Champions League - Milan Baros and Vladimir Smicer, who took club football's most prestigious trophy with Liverpool two years ago.
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