Sixteen Central European presidents will meet from Thursday in the city of Brno to discuss dialogue with the European Union, problems with Russia and security issues. President, Vaclav Klaus, who will be hosting the conference, has said that problems in the regions of Transnistria and Kosovo will be on the agenda of the talks. The deployment of the US anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic could also be raised. The presidents of Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine are due to be present in Brno. The 14th annual summit of Central European presidents has developed from the first event staged in Salzburg, Austria, in 1993, at which only the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany and Austria were represented.
The mother of a seven-year-old boy who was discovered was found bound and naked in a broom cupboard earlier this month has been charged with restriction of personal freedom. The thirty-year-old woman has been remanded in custody and is also being prosecuted on charges of torturing her son. If found guilty of the two crimes she faces up to eight years in prison.
A new poll by the CVVM agency suggests the coalition Civic Democrats would win 35 percent of the vote, 6 percent ahead of the runner-up opposition Social Democrats if general elections were to be held now. According to the poll, the opposition Communists would finish third gaining 15.5 percent of the vote, followed by the coalition Christian Democrats with 9.5 percent of the vote and the Greens with 9 percent.
In related news, police experts are studying letters sent to President Vaclav Klaus, Ombudsman Otakar Motejl and the Mlada fronta Dnes daily allegedly by thirteen-year-old Anna, a foster sister of little Ondra, who escaped from a children's home shortly after being placed there two weeks ago. Police have also launched a search for 34-year-old Barbora Skrlova, a former colleague of Ondra's aunt, who, according to some information, could be the same person as Anna.
President Vaclav Klaus has said that the government-proposed public finance reform is "a step in the right direction, albeit a small one". Speaking on Czech Television on Wednesday, Mr Klaus said he would prefer more radical changes but as a political realist he sees that the current proposal is the only possibility. President Klaus also said that if the reform package is approved by parliament, he will sign it into law.
US state department chief negotiator John Rood said on Tuesday that there
were no "insurmountable issues" standing in the way of a deal
between the United States and the Czech Republic to site a US tracking
radar in the country. Mr Rood was speaking at a news conference following
a second round of negotiations in Prague. Tuesday's discussions focused on
defining the terms of an agreement covering the siting of the base on Czech
soil including its construction, maintenance, functioning and security
measures. Mr Rood's Czech counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas
Pojar, said the talks allowed both sides to identify "the limits for
The United States wants the Czech Republic to host a radar, with interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland, to counter the missile attack threat it says is posed by Iran or other "rogue states." The move has created rifts within NATO, outright hostility from Russia and opposition from many Czechs.
Meanwhile, the Brno city court has ruled that seven-year-old Ondra will remain in a children's home along with his elder brother. Both the children's father and their grandparents had requested that the boys be put in their care but the court refused their demand on Wednesday. The boys were placed in a special shelter for abused children earlier this month after their mother was taken into custody on charges of torturing her son.
The coalition cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has approved a package of public finance reforms aiming to reduce the country's fiscal deficit and prepare it for euro adoption in 2012. The reform package introduces changes in the tax and welfare systems as well as new fees in the healthcare system. The bill is to be discussed by the lower house during the summer. The opposition parties have said they will not support the bill and the package also faces criticism from within the coalition ranks.
In ice hockey, the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night ending the team's run for this year's Stanley Cup finals. Detroit - home to star Czech goalie Dominik Hasek - were defeated 4:3 in their final game of the series. The Ducks dominated most of the match, holding on for the win even as Detroit mounted a comeback. 42-year-old Detroit goalie Dominik Hasek, who had an excellent season, will now announce in several weeks time whether he will retire or come back.
The ruling Civic Democratic Party's deputies met to thrash out their differences on the government proposed reform of public finances on Tuesday. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose cabinet needs the vote of every coalition deputy, said later that some of his party colleagues still had objections to the draft reforms but that progress had been made. Critics from party ranks argue that the Civic Democrats had made too many concessions to their coalition partners and were betraying their own policy programme. The Prime Minister has linked the future of his cabinet to this crucial reform package. Parliament is to vote on it at the beginning of June.
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