Sparta Prague football club are now one step away from the group stage in the Champions League, after beating APOEL of Cyprus 2:1 in the second leg of their second round qualifying tie in Prague on Wednesday night. That result gave Sparta a 4:3 win on aggregate, setting up a clash with Hungary's Ferencvaros for a place in the lucrative competition. The first leg takes place away next week.
The upper house of the Czech Parliament, the Senate, on Thursday rejected a bill stipulating that all high school students would have to pass a compulsory maths test as part of their school-leaving exams, the Czech "maturita". The bill was proposed by the lower house in June. The senators agreed on Thursday that students should be able to choose between maths and other subjects. Maths tests were compulsory for all students graduating from high schools until 1990.
The new Czech Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, inaugurated four new
government ministers to their posts on Thursday, a day after the new
cabinet was sworn in. Social Democrat Milada Emmerova has taken up the
post of Health Minister and her party colleague Jiri Paroubek has replaced
the chairman of the Freedom Union, Pavel Nemec, at the post of Local
Development Minister. Pavel Nemec has assumed the post of Justice
Minister. On Thursday, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross also inaugurated
Frantisek Bublan to the post of Interior Minister, which he himself had
held in the previous cabinet of the former Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla.
The remaining new minister, Karel Kuehnl of the Freedom Union, is expected
to assume his post of Defence Minister on Friday.
The other ministers in the 18-member cabinet had served under Mr Spidla in the last government. The new coalition cabinet, with a majority of just one in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, faces a vote of confidence on August 24.
The number of foreigners living legally in the Czech Republic has more than doubled in the last decade, according to figures just released by the Czech Statistics Office. While in 1994 there were around 100,000 officially registered foreigners, there are now almost 250,000, accounting for 2.3 percent of people living in the Czech Republic.
President Vaclav Klaus officially appointed the centre-left government of
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross on Wednesday, 39 days after the demise of
the previous government led by Vladimir Spidla. Mr Gross has put together
a coalition of the same three parties which were in government under his
predecessor: the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom
The coalition, with a majority of just one in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, faces a vote of confidence on August 24.
Mr Gross, Europe's youngest prime minister at 34, said he believed his government would survive until the next general elections in 2006, adding that two years was plenty of time to undertake serious, responsible and courageous tasks.
The prime minister had promised fresh blood, though while eight ministers are under 40 years old, two thirds of his 18-member cabinet served under Mr Spidla in the last government.
Czech captain Pavel Nedved has said he is considering retiring from international football. Nedved, 32 at the end of the month, said it appeared his international career was a "closed chapter". The midfielder, who plays for the Italian club Juventus, is widely regarded as the best Czech player of his generation, and this year became only the second Czech to be named European Player of the Year. And staying with football, in the latest FIFA rankings released on Wednesday, the Czech Republic is ranked fifth in the world.
Contrary to press reports, nobody has been either arrested or detained in connection with the organisation of the Czechtek techno music festival near a village in west Bohemia, a Pilsen police spokesperson said on Wednesday. On Monday night the police began breaking up the unauthorised festival, which began on Friday and attracted 15,000 people at its peak.
A 60-year-old man from Beroun in central Bohemia has become the first person to die after being bitten by an infected tick in the Czech Republic this year. Though the man died in the middle of May, the cause of death has just been confirmed. Almost 120 people were infected by ticks between the start of the year and August 1, the daily Pravo reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Spidla, who will become the Czech Republic's representative on the European Commission in November, had his first meeting with the next president of the commission, Jose Barroso, in Brussels on Wednesday. Mr Spidla discussed social issues with Mr Barroso, but said it would be up to the future chairman to decide on his role in the next commission.
Following Sunday's explosion outside a casino in the centre of Prague,
which injured 18 people, Czech officials have said they plan to tighten
regulations on granting casino licenses. The finance ministry is
drafting an amendment to the law under which the police would screen
all licence applicants, regardless of whether they had produced a clean
criminal record and the local authorities would have the right to
reject a casino in their district even if the applicant fulfilled all
the stated criteria.
Under the present law security checks are terminated the moment an applicant produces a clean criminal record and Prague has more casinos than several European countries put together. Sunday's explosion, which injured 18 people, on a busy Prague street, was linked to the criminal underworld, the result of an ongoing feud between two Israeli mafia families. The incident has raised questions about what kind of people are operating the vast number of casinos in the Czech Republic and whether the authorities have the situation under control.