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.
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.
Czech citizens should decide on the European Constitution in a referendum in June 2006, to be held simultaneously with the next regular general elections, the Prime Minister and Social Democrat acting chairman Stanislav Gross said on Monday. Mr Gross said he expected the ratification procedure to be complicated, but he said he believed that Czech voters would have enough information to approve the constitution in the end.
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.
An Irish opposition party has called for the rescinding of the Irish citizenship of Viktor Kozeny, a Czech man wanted for large scale fraud in the Czech Republic and the United States. Joe Costello of the Labour Party said the fact people like Mr Kozeny held an Irish passport could create the impression Ireland was a safe haven for "international crooks". Mr Kozeny, who lives in the Bahamas and has been dubbed "the Pirate of Prague", has held an Irish passport since 1995.
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