A five-member Czech police team has left for Afghanistan to serve a one-year mission in the province of Kunduz and the town of Faizabad as advisors to the border police and investigation experts. The members of the team all have experience from previous foreign missions and have worked in specialised police teams. Czech-Afghan police cooperation was the subject of talks between Czech deputy foreign minister Jaroslav Basta and Afghan police chief Zahir Aghbar who visited Prague recently.
Former Czech president and playwright Vaclav Havel dismissed speculation on Friday that he would run as a candidate for the Czech presidency next year. Mr Havel's spokesman said that Mr Havel had not received any offer and that no one had discussed this issue with him. Vaclav Havel who was the country's president between 1989 and 2003, hinted in March he could stand in the 2008 election "to scare somebody", a veiled reference to incumbent President Vaclav Klaus whose policies Mr Havel opposes.
A hundred days before an official deadline, more than 800,000 Czechs have not yet had their old drivers' licences replaced by new ones, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes writes. Licences issued before January 1, 1994 will only be valid until the end of the year. Drivers who fail to have their expiring licence replaced can face a fine of up to 30,000 crowns (around 1,500 USD). In Prague alone, one fifth of all drivers' licences, 176,481 in all, still remain to be replaced. The daily says the authorities are unable to cope with the situation.
One of Prague's embankments has been closed for car traffic to mark Saturday's Car-free Day. Smetanovo embankment turned for one day into a promenade with stands offering refreshments as well as information about environmentally friendly lifestyle. Around 2,500 cyclists rode together through the centre of Prague on Saturday afternoon calling for better conditions for themselves and pedestrians in the city. The capital Prague has symbolically joined another hundred of towns and villages around the country in celebrations of Car-free Day which is a culmination of European Mobility Week, an annual event promoting sustainable transportation.
The leadership of the ruling coalition Civic Democratic Party has set up a special team which will be responsible for negotiating support among lawmakers for the party's presidential candidate Vaclav Klaus in next year's election. The team's members are party chairman and prime minister Mirek Topolanek, deputy chairman and Prague mayor Pavel Bem and heads of the Civic Democrat parliamentary parties in the lower and upper houses of parliament, Petr Tluchor and Tomas Julinek. Current incumbent Vaclav Klaus is the only official candidate so far.
The Franz Kafka Society based in Prague says it has completed the publishing of Franz Kafka's collected works in Czech translation. It is now putting out the final, thirteenth tome containing Kafka's private correspondence. Eighty-three years after Franz Kafka's death, Czech readers have for the first time a chance to read the complete works of the Prague-born German Jewish writer, one of the most influential 20th century authors, translated into the Czech language. The project took ten years to complete and six translators have participated in it, including Vojtech Saudek, Franz Kafka's great-nephew.
The Czech NGO Clovek v tisni (People in Need), these days marking 15 years since its foundation, held a day of celebrations in Prague on Saturday. People in Need, one of the largest humanitarian organisations in the new EU member states, has been active in disaster and war-stricken regions of Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe, as well as in the Czech Republic, mainly during the floods of 1997 and 2002. It is involved in providing and distributing humanitarian and development aid as well as programmes of social integration focusing on areas of social exclusion. People in Need also organises the annual human rights film festival One World.
The presidents of the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary) have rejected possible efforts to delay the four countries joining the Schengen zone by the end of 2008. According to some reports, Austria is allegedly seeking a temporary buffer period to delay the abolishment of controls on its borders. Hungary's President Lazslo Soloym called on the governments of the four countries to counter the Austrian position, calling even a temporary delay "unacceptable". By contrast, over the two-day summit the presidents, including the Czech Republic's Vaclav Klaus, agreed their countries were fully ready to join the zone and accept full membership responsibilities.
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