The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, held talks with his Czech
counterpart, Cyril Svoboda, on a visit to Prague on Tuesday. Mr Straw, in
the Czech capital to address a meeting of Czech ambassadors, said fears of
problems in the UK with immigration from new member states after European
Union enlargement had proved unfounded. He also said the Union should open
accession talks with Turkey; Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said
he is in favour of closer links with Turkey, and possibly its membership
of the EU.
As well as meeting Mr Svoboda and Mr Gross, Britain's foreign secretary held talks with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and future European commissioner Vladimir Spidla.
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda told a meeting of Czech ambassadors a joint Czech-German army unit could be established within the framework of EU defence policy, the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. However, the issue has not been discussed with Germany, or within the Czech government.
The Czech Republic's most notorious serial killers, Jaroslav Stodola and his wife Dana, have had an appeal against life prison terms rejected by the Supreme Court in Prague. The couple were found guilty of eight murders and two attempted murders. Most of their victims were elderly and alone, and from small villages. The police came in for a great deal of criticism for failing to suspect foul play in the deaths of several of the couple's victims.
Six boys aged between 11 and 18 have been charged with the murder of an 81-year-old woman from the village of Olesnice in east Bohemia. The 34-year-old father of two of the boys is also alleged to have taken part in the killing, which took place on August 12. Police had originally believed the killing was the work of one 12-year-old, who was on the run from a home for young offenders. The alleged perpetrators have admitted planning to rob the old woman; when she attempted to defend herself they stabbed her to death with scissors. Several hundred crowns, or less than 15 euros, was stolen from the victim's house.
Czech elementary school pupils should be taught not one but two foreign languages, the Education Minister Petra Buzkova told Monday's edition of the newspaper Pravo. Under a new education bill to be discussed by parliament in the autumn, children would begin learning a first foreign language at 9, a year earlier than now, and a second language at 14 at the latest.
A Prague court has confirmed a three-year prison sentence for two former members of the communist political police, Jiri Simak and Zbynek Dudek. The two men were found guilty of torturing political prisoners in 1981 during a secret operation that was devised to force members of the anti-communist opposition to leave Czechoslovakia. The two men had already been sentenced two years ago but the Supreme Court annulled the verdict due to technicalities.
Another suspected case of BSE or mad cow disease has been reported at a farm in Hrejkovice, South Bohemia. The animal suspected of suffering from the condition is an eight-year-old cow. The State Veterinary Office says the results of the control tests will be available later this week. If confirmed, it would be the Czech Republic's eleventh case of the disease since 2001.
The United States is to buy a Czech radar system which it had reportedly asked the Czech authorities not to supply to China. The Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda told Czech TV on Sunday the US was buying one device now, and would consider a larger contract in the future. The "Vera" system does not emit any waves and can discover other radar systems without itself being detected; it is said to be able to detect US Stealth aircraft.
The Czech javelin thrower Jan Zelezny announced on Sunday an end to his sparkling career after a disappointing ninth place in Athens, his fifth Olympic Games. Zelezny, 38, said that he may take part in several exhibitions or smaller events but the world championship or even the Olympic Games are no longer for him. In Athens, Zelezny was seeking a fourth successive Olympic gold and a fifth successive Olympic medal, but finished ninth with 80.59 metres, lagging well behind his season best of 86.12. Three days ago Jan Zelezny was re-elected to the International Olympic Committee's Athletes' Commission.
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