The Czech Army has begun rotating its soldiers taking part in an international peace-keeping mission in Kosovo. Around 70 members of the army's 11th contingent left Prague for Kosovo on Tuesday, with some of the troops they are replacing travelling in the opposite direction. The Czech mechanised battalion in the province numbers almost 450 soldiers. Their commander Milan Schulc said their main task was to ensure a secure environment for political negotiations on the future of Kosovo.
The European Union has criticised the Czech Republic over the state of its
public finances. EU finance ministers called on Prague to tighten its
budget policy in order to reduce the public finance deficit to below three
percent - and as quickly as possible. This year the Czech Republic's budget
deficit is set to reach 4 percent of gross domestic product, breaking a
Czech government pledge to keep it below 3.3 percent. Tuesday's reprimand
had been expected and is set to be followed by a similar admonishment
later this year.
Meanwhile, Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said the EU had given its backing to government plans to reform the Czech Republic's welfare and taxation systems.
Former Czech football international Pavel Nedved has so far failed to agree new terms with Juventus. Nedved, who is 34, is said to be unhappy that some other players at the Italian club are better paid than he is. The daily La Stampa reported that the Italian league champions Inter Milan were keen to take advantage of a possible breakdown in talks between Nedved and Juve in order to sign the veteran midfielder themselves.
Traffic in Plzen was disrupted on Tuesday following the discovery of an unexploded World War II bomb. Workers at the site of a new hotel being built in the city discovered the device, which was estimated to weigh 250 kilogrammes. The surrounding area was cleared as police waited for bomb disposal experts to remove it.
The League against Anti-Semitism have accused independent senator Liana Janackova of racism following the release of a recording on which she appears to say the way to deal with difficult Romany neighbours is to blow them out with dynamite. She also appears to admit to being a racist and an opponent of the integration of Romanies. However, Ms Janackova, who is also mayor of a district of Ostrava, denies either making the comments or being a racist. A Romany rights organisation has put the recording on its website.
Wardens at Prague Zoo found five apples studded with steel nails in the run of its gorilla enclosure on Tuesday morning. A spokesperson said the animals' lives had been in danger. Prague Zoo's gorillas are constantly monitored by an internet TV project; there are now plans to also monitor the area outside their enclosure.
Czech police have arrested a group of Ukrainians alleged to have forced Ukrainian and Bulgarian citizens into "slave labour", the website iDnes reported. Three Ukrainian men are accused of luring workers to the Czech Republic, then taking their passports and forcing them to work under inhumane conditions. The three have been charged with people trafficking. Police in Ukraine are searching for a fourth member of the gang. The case was uncovered by a special Czech police unit set up to tackle "slave labour".
The Czech Republic and Poland should exchange information on talks with Washington over the possible building of parts of a US anti-missile defence shield in their states, the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, said after talks in Warsaw on Tuesday with his Polish counterpart, Lech Kaczynski. For his part, Mr Kaczynski expressed gratitude for the support Poland received from the Czech Republic at a recent EU summit. The two leaders said their states would continue to support one another.
Police in Klatovy, west Bohemia are investigating an incident in which somebody last week broke into an electrical transformer station and briefly increased the voltage in local homes from low to high. Voltage of 15,000 kilowatts caused fridges, television and microwave ovens to explode. A spokesperson for power producer CEZ said that if any local people had touched an appliance at that time they would not have been likely to survive.
Jiri Dienstbier, former Czechoslovak foreign minister and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, is likely to run against Vaclav Klaus in next year's presidential elections, according to the internet news site aktualne.cz. Mr. Dienstbier has confirmed the news, saying that he would accept the candidacy if he won enough political backing. Opposition leader Jiri Paroubek said on Sunday that his Social Democrats were trying to reach agreement across the political spectrum on a candidate who would be strong enough to stand a chance against the current head of state, President Vaclav Klaus. Mr. Klaus has said he would seek re-election for a second term in office.
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