The general director of the country's monopoly telecom operator, Cesky Telecom, has been sacked, following the collapse of plans to privatise the company. General Director Premysl Klima was dismissed at a board meeting on Wednesday. The privatisation of Cesky Telecom, which controls most of the country's fixed lines and also the leading mobile operator Eurotel, was one of the few remaining sell-offs of the post-communist era. However the deal fell through on Tuesday, when potential investor Deutsche Bank failed to meet the share price demanded by TelSource, which holds a 27-percent stake in the company.
The Czech-born film director Karel Reisz, renowned for his critically acclaimed masterpiece "The French Lieutenant's Woman," has died in London at the age of 76. Mr Reisz, who came to England as a refugee from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, became one of the leaders of the New Wave in British-film making. Mr Reisz was one of the hundreds of children saved by the Nazis by the British diplomat Nicholas Winton, arriving in England at the age of 12. Towards the end of the war he flew as a pilot with the Royal Air Force.
The Czech Republic's chief negotiator on accession to the European Union, Pavel Telicka, has expressed satisfaction with an offer of increased finances to applicant countries put forward by Denmark, which currently holds the EU presidency. Mr Telicka described the offer as positive, but said the Czech Republic would still continue to fight for better accession terms between now and the mid-December Copenhagen EU summit. Germany and some other EU countries are opposed to the Danish proposals, which are aimed at appeasing farmers in candidate states. The Czech Republic is one of ten countries hoping to join the Union in 2004.
The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla visited Brussels on Monday to lobby for Czech interests. Mr Spidla first met his Belgian counterpart Guy Verhofstadt, then held talks with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen, followed by a discussion with EU Commission President, Romano Prodi. With the EU commencing the debate on the precise financial conditions for admitting new countries, Mr Spidla's visit was the last chance to influence EU decisions on financing expansion at the highest political level. Speaking to journalists after his meeting with Mr Spidla, Mr Prodi said he was confident that the EU and the candidate countries would reach the necessary compromises before the EU summit in Copenhagen in December.
The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla will be in Brussels on Monday to lobby for Czech interests, just as the European Union begins debating the precise financial conditions that will apply after the next wave of applicants is admitted. At a series of meetings with EU and Belgian officials, including EU Commission President, Romano Prodi, Mr Spidla will be putting forward such Czech concerns as subsidies for the country's farmers and quotas for milk and beef exports. The Czech Republic's chief negotiator with the EU, Pavel Telicka, said that the visit was extremely well timed, as it would be the Czech Republic's last top-level opportunity to influence EU decisions on its finances after expansion. The country is widely expected to join the union in 2004.
Two men who disrupted a news conference concluding the NATO summit on Friday have been charged with breaching the peace. During NATO Secretary General George Robertson's closing speech, the men attempted to throw a tomato at Mr Robertson and shouted anti-alliance slogans in Russian. The two protestors were attending the summit as journalists. Both were released from police custody on Friday evening. Czech President Vaclav Havel apologised to Lord Robertson after the incident.
Prague is gradually returning to normal after the two day NATO summit
on Thursday and Friday. Traffic is again flowing normally through the
city, where many streets were cordoned off, and shops, which were
boarded up in anticipation of violent anti-NATO demonstrations are
gradually reopening. In the end the summit passed without serious
incident, and police officers, brought in from around the country are
now returning home.
The NATO summit witnessed the historic decision to invite a further seven countries to join the alliance, and for the first time the expansion is to include countries which were once part of the Soviet Union. NATO leaders also decided to create a rapid response force to be used in global anti-terrorist missions, and issued a statement backing UN efforts to disarm Iraq. The statement was cautiously worded and fell short of overtly endorsing military intervention. At talks on Friday NATO and Russia said they would continue in the path of cooperation set up in Rome six months ago.
Two men who disrupted a news conference concluding the NATO summit on Friday have been charged with breaching the peace. During NATO Secretary General George Robertson's closing speech, the men attempted to throw a tomato at Mr Robertson and shouted anti-alliance slogans in Russian. After security officials hauled the protesters out of the room, one of them said he was a Russian National Bolshevik Party activist. The two protesters were accredited as journalists. Both were released from police custody on Friday evening. Lord Robertson took the incident with humour, saying that the tomato had now become historic as it was thrown during a historic NATO summit. Czech President Vaclav Havel apologised to Lord Robertson after the incident.
The NATO summit came to an end in Prague on Friday after two days of talks on the enlargement, transformation and modernisation of the alliance. Leaders of the 53-year-old defence organisation made the historic decision to invite a further seven former Eastern Bloc nations to join, and for the first time the expansion is to include countries which were once part of the Soviet Union. NATO leaders also decided to create a rapid Response Force to be used in global anti-terrorist missions, and issued a statement backing UN efforts to disarm Iraq. However the statement did not go so far as to endorse military intervention overtly. On Friday, representatives of the 19 NATO member states met their counterparts from 27 East European and Central Asian nations that have partnership accords with the alliance.
Meanwhile, with the NATO summit being over, Prague is gradually getting back to normal. Those who left the city or stayed home for fear of getting caught in demonstrations are returning to their normal lives. Despite further protest demonstrations scheduled to be held in several parts of the city, Prague streets remained quiet on Saturday. Police who were called in during the summit from the rest of the country are being sent back home.
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