Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in Bogota on Thursday on the first leg of his South American tour. The two sides signed two trade agreements that should boost trade and make it easier for Czech companies to enter the Colombian market. Mr Topolánek discussed a possible sale of Czech L-159 aircraft to the Colombian army. The Czech Prime Minister then met with the chairperson of the Colombian Senate Patricia Gutierrez before leaving for Peru where he will attend a summit of Latin American and EU countries.
Russian officials have accused the Czech Republic and other NATO countries of destabilizing the situation in the Caucasus, the AFP news agency reported on Thursday. The Russian Defence Ministry said that the United States, Turkey, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic were increasing tension in the region by shipping weapons to Georgia. The country is in a dispute with Russia over the separatist provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which rely on Russian support.
Six-week-old twins went missing in Olomouc, central Moravia, on Wednesday evening after their mother let a 13-year-old girl she barely knew mind them. The girl, who promised to take them round the block in their pram, took them instead to her home in another part of the city. The Olomouc police only took some 3.5 hours to find the missing twins. The babies appear unharmed but have been admitted to hospital for observation. It is not clear what motivated the girl’s actions.
The German-owned Czech-based car producer Škoda Auto has won a bid to supply new cars to the Czech police force, the police presidium said on Thursday. The other contenders – Germany’s Volkswagen and French Renault – offered higher prices than the winning Škoda which will supply the police with 3,500 new cars for 1.1 billion crowns, or almost 68 million U.S. dollars. The bid also included a contract for 14 service points for the new police vehicles.
Interior Minister Ivan Langer complained on Wednesday about German and
Austrian traffic police targeting Czech drivers at road checks. After the
Czech Republic joined the Schengen zone of free travel, Austrian and
police reportedly started targeting Czech drivers in their border areas,
subjecting them to thorough inspections. In his reaction, Austrian
Minister Gunther Platter said on Thursday that any security measures were
Austria’s internal issue, and that these road checks would continue.
In related news, the Austrian government will temporarily reinstate border controls during the European Football Championship to be held in Austria and Switzerland this summer. Austrian authorities said that between June 2 and July 1, they would focus on potential football hooligans as well as illegal immigrants crossing Austrian borders.
Radek Šírl has become the fifth Czech football player to win the UEFA Cup. His Zenit St Petersburg beat Glasgow Rangers 2:0 in Wednesday’s final in Manchester. The former Bohemians midfielder was widely praised for a superb tackle which denied Rangers a chance to score in the first half. Šírl has been with the Russian club for five years.
The Moravian city of Brno is holding a three-day scientific conference to commemorate the physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach, who was born in the close vicinity of the city in 1838. The Brno Days of Ernst Mach start on Thursday with a workshop, held by the Faculty of Sciences of Masaryk University and will conclude on Saturday with the unveiling of a memorial to the distinguished scholar in his native community.
Growth of the Czech GDP slowed down to 5.4 percent in the first quarter of 2008, the Czech Statistical Office reported on Thursday. Analysts predicted a slightly higher figure but faster growth has been impeded by price-rises. Czech foreign trade also slowed down in the first three months of 2008 but higher productivity and a lower unemployment rate contributed to the growth of the Czech economy this year.
German Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung has said that Germany supports positioning of a U.S. radar base in the Czech Republic. During a meeting with his Czech counterpart Vlasta Parkanová in Prague on Thursday, Mr Jung also said his country believed that the anti-missile shield should be part of the NATO defence system. The Czech Republic is set to sign an agreement with the United States on hosting the base while polls have repeatedly suggested that the most Czechs are against it.
The Czech Republic has been knocked out of the World Ice Hockey Championships in Quebec, after losing 3:2 to Sweden in overtime on Wednesday. The Czechs were leading 2:1 and were just four minutes from advancing to the semi-finals when Sweden equalised to make it 2:2 in regular time. It is the second year in a row that the Czech Republic has exited the World Championships in the quarter-finals. Coach Alois Hadamczik announced he was stepping down after Wednesday’s defeat.
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