Finland and Spain have indicated they may open their labour markets to the new EU members before the end of this year. The Czech Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach, who attended a meeting with his EU counterparts in the Austrian town of Villach on Friday said that although no decision had been reached the diplomatic signals from Madrid and Helsinki were encouraging. Germany and Austria, on the other hand, have made it clear that they will extend the labour market restrictions by another three years.
The Czech women's tennis number one Nicole Vaidisova has advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open, after beating Flavia Pennetta of Italy. Meanwhile, Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic was knocked out of the competition by Slovak-born Martina Hingis. Benesova had previously overcome fifth-seed Mary Pierce of France.
A gathering of the ultra right National Party at Lety, the site of a wartime camp for Romanies, sparked an incident with Roma rights activists. Witnesses say there was a brief skirmish and two Roma rights activists, who shouted "away with neo-Nazis" were detained by the police. One of them was Markus Pape, a well known Roma rights lawyer. The police say that Mr. Pape committed a misdemeanour when he interrupted the gathering of the National Party. Mr. Pape says that he was physically attacked by three members of the party and will press charges.
The Czech military says it is not planning to take its Russian made transport planes out of operation in the wake of Thursday's plane crash which killed 42 Slovak soldiers returning from a KFOR mission in Kosovo. It is not yet clear what caused the Slovak military's Russian-made Antonov 24 veer off course and crash in a mountain area close to the border. A Czech military spokesman said that the Czech air force discarded its last Antonov 24 last year, and the remaining Antonov 26 planes were reliable and well-maintained.
The four most popular Czech politicians are all in the government, suggests a poll by the STEM agency. Culture Minister Viteslav Jandak headed the January poll, followed by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Petra Buzkova, who is minister of education. Fifth place was occupied by Pavel Bem, the Civic Democrat mayor of Prague.
A controversial "memorial" erected by the far-right National Party at the site of a World War II concentration camp for Romanies in Lety, south Bohemia has been removed, following a vote by local councillors. The obscure party had planned to unveil the stone memorial on Saturday; they said it was in honour of those who died during the war. However, the idea was strongly criticised by Czech politicians and Roma rights groups. Over 300 Romanies died at Lety during World War II.
The funeral of Lady Luisa Abrahams has taken place in London. She was born in Prague in 1910 and was Czechoslovak ladies golf champion in 1938. During the war she became a major in the Czechoslovak Airforce, before settling in England with her aristocrat husband. But Lady Luisa maintained ties with her home country and did a lot of work for Czech charities.
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