President Vaclav Klaus has condemned the unruly post-war expulsion of Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II, as well as violence committed in former Czechoslovakia during the war. Mr Klaus said that both Germany and the Czech Republic needed to be able to admit that what had happened could no longer be changed, adding that the acts of the period were unacceptable from today's point of view. Mr Klaus made the statements on the eve of the 64th anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany on March 15th, 1939.
Social Democrat Deputy Milan Urban has been proposed by the prime minister to replace outgoing Jiri Rusnok as the country's new Trade and Industry minister. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla sacked Mr Rusnok on Thursday, just two days after the coalition government won a vote of confidence in parliament. Mr Rusnok's dismissal must now be approved by the country's president Vaclav Klaus. Meanwhile, a government spokeswoman said on Friday that Mr Rusnok's removal had nothing to do with a rebellion by some Social Democrat deputies in recent presidential elections, which allowed Mr Klaus to win the post. Other observers, however, point out Mr Rusnok was a key ally of Mr Spidla's predecessor, Milos Zeman. They say by sacking Mr Rusnok the prime minister has sent a clear message to opponents within his own Social Democrat party. Providing the president approves Jiri Rusnok's dismissal, Milan Urban will take his new post in government as of next week.
President Vaclav Klaus and his predecessor Vaclav Havel have both sent telegrams of condolence to the Serbian government following Wednesday's assassination of Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. Mr Klaus said he was all the more shocked because he had known Mr Djindjic personally. Former President Havel said he was appalled by the killing.
A new poll released by the CVVM agency suggests the overwhelming majority of Czechs are against a war in Iraq, with or without a UN resolution. The poll claimed just 12 percent of people would support a war without the backing of the UN Security Council, and just 22 percent would support a war even with UN support. The agency said public support for a U.S.-led war against Iraq had fallen steadily over the last 12 months. The Czech Republic has sent its elite anti-chemical unit to Kuwait as part of preparations for the war. However the Czech government has said their involvement is conditional on the support of the UN.
The government of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla won a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday afternoon, after all the ruling coalition MPs voted in favour of the Czech cabinet. With only a simple majority needed, the coalition's one-vote majority was enough to ensure the confidence vote, meaning that all 101 coalition deputies in the 200-seat lower house voted in favour. The opposition Civic Democrat and Communist deputies voted against. Prime Minister Spidla called the vote after several party members defied him and party colleagues to vote for the opposition candidate Vaclav Klaus during the presidential elections on February 28.
Police in the Republic of Ireland are searching for a Czech Romany family who failed to turn up to a court deportation hearing on Friday, Irish newspapers have reported. David Lobe and his family had previously been refused asylum in Great Britain before applying in Ireland, where they had another child, something which until recently would have guaranteed them the right to stay in the country.
Pope John Paul II, the French President Jacques Chirac, the Austrian President Thomas Klestil, the Spanish King Juan Carlos, the Chinese President Chiang Ze-min, and other world leaders have congratulated the new Czech President Vaclav Klaus on his inauguration. After his election last Friday Mr Klaus received congratulations over the telephone from US President George W. Bush and the German President Johannes Rau. The Slovak President Rudolf Schuster congratulated Mr Klaus shortly after his election last Friday.
The joint Czech and Slovak anti-chemical, biological and nuclear battalion deployed in Kuwait began monitoring the chemical and radiation situation in the Kuwaiti capital on Saturday in preparation for a possible retaliatory strike in the case of war in Iraq. The troops recently moved from their base at Camp Doha to strategic objects in the country, such as military bases and vital installations including the Kuwaiti oilfields. The joint battalion of about 400 Czech and 60 Slovak troops has a mandate to respond to attacks in 24 countries, including Israel and Turkey, as part of a task force with US and German troops. The Czech and Slovak parliaments have also given permission for the battalion to operate in Iraq.
Around one hundred people have demonstrated in Prague against a possible war in Iraq. The demonstrators, mainly Czechs, Iraqis and Americans walked through the streets of Prague carrying banners and chanting anti-war slogans. The protesters, organised by the Iraqi minority in the Czech Republic and the International Peace Movement, then staged a protest in front of the US and Iraqi embassies and read out their statements. The event was monitored by several dozen police.
Mr Klaus was sworn in on Friday afternoon as the second president in the history of the Czech Republic and the tenth head of state since 1918 when independent Czechoslovakia was founded. The inauguration ceremony took place at the historic Prague Castle. In attendance were members of parliament, foreign diplomats, as well as former president Vaclav Havel and his wife Dagmar.
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