Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda met his French counterpart Michel Barnier in Paris on Thursday to discuss the two countries' business and trade relations, the European Union Constitution and also the current situation in Iraq. Mr Barnier said after the meeting that the situation in Iraq was extremely serious and could be resolved only if Iraqi citizens, the countries of the region and the international community increase their efforts. He said that an international conference of all involved countries and organisations would be especially useful. Mr Svoboda said the Czech Republic was against any individual action and supported a solution agreed on by the European Union and the United States. Mr Svoboda ended his two-day visit to France on Thursday afternoon.
The host of a political discussion programme on the commercial TV station Nova, Jana Bobosikova, has confirmed she is running for a seat in the European Parliament. Ms Bobosikova is running for the Independents' Movement alongside former TV Nova head, Senator Vladimir Zelezny. Ms Bobosikova said she was leaving her job in TV Nova. The Czech Republic will hold its first ever elections to the European Parliament in mid-June.
The Czech public service radio, Cesky rozhlas has received two awards in the "Media Helping Historical Monuments" competition for journalists. Czech Radio studios in the cities of Ceske Budejovice and Plzen have been awarded for consistent attention paid to monuments in South and West Bohemia. The competition is co-organised by the Syndicate of Journalists under the auspices of Senate Chairman Petr Pithart.
The unemployment figure for March has dropped to 10.7 percent, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry announced on Thursday. Compared to February, when the ministry announced a record-high 10.9 percent, the number of jobless people decreased by some 11,000 to reach 559,822 (almost 560 thousand). Compared to figures in March of the previous year, the number of unemployed increased by more than 30,000.
Police say they detained a group of illegal immigrants on Thursday morning, close to the town of Hodonin, South Moravia. The group of refugees from Chechnya and Armenia had successfully crossed the bridge over the Morava River - a natural border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Half of the group were young children between the ages of two and four. One child, bleeding from a wound on the neck, had to be taken to hospital for treatment, a police spokesperson said.
NATO is said to be considering a Czech offer to send a surgical team to Afghanistan. The team would consist of a surgeon, anaesthetist and several nurses to boost a multi-national medical centre in Kabul. Hungary has allegedly made a similar offer. At present there are around 20 Czech soldiers -mainly mine-experts and meteorologists - serving in the vicinity of Kabul Airport and the Czech Republic has also sent a special unit which is helping to comb the Afghan mountains for members of the terrorist organization Al Qaida.
The Lower House on Tuesday voted that 17 of its members who have been observers to the European Parliament since last year will remain as temporary deputies until the June elections to the European Parliament. The upper house of parliament, the Senate, confirmed its seven observers last week. All 24 temporary deputies will represent the Czech Republic in the European Parliament from May 1st, when the Czech Republic joins the EU, to July 19th, when the newly elected deputies will be ready to take up their mandates.
President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla met on Wednesday to discuss Czech policy and priorities within the enlarged EU. The meeting was initiated by President Klaus who wished to discuss a government draft concept outlining Czech policy and priorities within the EU up until 2013. In mid-March, Mr. Klaus sent a letter to the prime minister with a list of objections and points that needed clearing up. The letter was published on the website of the presidential office on Wednesday. As the date of EU accession nears, talks on EU matters are intensifying at all levels. Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda travelled to Paris on Wednesday evening for talks with his French counterpart Michel Barnier. The main topic on their agenda is EU enlargement.
A group of fifty Iraqi judges are scheduled to come to Prague on April 17 to take part in a fourteen-day course called "the judiciary in a democratic society". The course, which is to help the judges prepare for their country's transformation into a democracy is organised by the Ceeli Institute. According to the institute's Hana Borcevska, the course was to be held last month but had to be postponed; the Iraqi judges requested to be transported in a military aircraft with antimissile defence systems.
Romanian President Ion Iliescu is on a three-day official visit to the Czech Republic. Shortly after his arrival on Tuesday, he gave a speech on integration and globalisation at Prague's Carolinum and officially opened the new Romanian Culture Institute. President Iliescu is also scheduled to meet his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus, visit the Czech Parliament, and give a lecture at Charles University. On Wednesday evening, he will be travelling to the Moravian capital Brno and southern Moravia to commemorate Romanian soldiers who fell in the Second World War in the town of Kromeriz.
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