President Vaclav Klaus has compared the European Union to the Communist-era international organization Comecon, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance. Speaking in the US magazine Time, Mr Klaus said the EU was structurally similar to the old Eastern bloc organisation, although ideologically different. He also reiterated his call for the EU to be widened rather than more deeply integrated, saying it should accept countries like Kazakhstan and Morocco as members.
Regulations regarding work in the Czech Republic are among the strictest in Europe, according to an OECD report quoted in Friday's Hospodarske noviny. The study found that only Portugal was less 'liberal', while the United Kingdom had the weakest labour legislation. The report says the Czech government should amend the country's labour law to make it easier for employers to lay off workers.
A mobile Czech hospital is coming back from Sri Lanka earlier than originally planned. The hospital had been expected to remain in the disaster hit region until at least July but is now due to return next month. Director Jaromir Dolansky said the main reason was a loss of sponsors after media reports that the hospital had a shortage of patients.
A Prague tram which was derailed on Wednesday killing two people was going at 32 km an hour, over twice the speed limit of 15 km an hour, an inspector said on Friday. Several people were injured in the accident, which occurred on the city's Karlovo namesti. The daily Pravo reported on Friday that one of the injured was robbed of money and a mobile phone before she was taken to hospital.
A contingent of Czech soldiers has left for Afghanistan, where they will serve in a NATO mission for the next six months. The 15 Czech soldiers will be searching for mines around Kabul's international airport, as well as conducting weather surveys. Czech soldiers have been deployed in Afghanistan since March of last year.
A new opinion poll suggests the Czech prime minister, Stanislav Gross, has lost public support. The prime minister, who has recently been embroiled in a scandal involving his family's property, is now supported by 18 percent of voters, according to the STEM poll. In January he had almost 50 percent support. The new poll found that most popular politician in the country is Culture Minister Pavel Dostal, who is fighting cancer.
More than 70 Czech politicians, artists and sports stars were voluntarily locked up in a mock prison cell on Prague's Wenceslas Square on Friday, in a protest against the plight of Cuban dissidents. The protest was due to last 75 hours, marking as it did the arrest of 75 Cuban dissidents two years ago. Former Czech president Vaclav Havel, a strong critic of the Castro regime, sent a video message supporting the event, which was organised by the NGO People in Need.
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