Czech President Vaclav Klaus and his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski meeting in Prague on Friday, discussed the state of the European Union as well as problems surrounding further unification. The two heads of state - known for critical stances towards further integration - said the European Union needed a constitution that gave nation states more power, proposing a new charter should replace the EU Constitution. The original constitution was put on ice last year following negative referenda results in both the Netherlands and France. Both Mr Kaczynski and Mr Klaus are proponents of a more loosely-organised EU. His visit to Prague is the Polish president's first since being elected to office in October last year.
The right-of-centre Freedom Union has announced that it will run solely on its own in national elections later this year, rather than forming a pre-election bloc with other small centre-right parties. There was speculation the party could run on a common platform with non-parliamentary parties including the liberal European Democrats or the Civic Democratic Alliance. In the end, the Freedom Union opted to run separately, its representatives saying they are aiming to put together a candidate list by March. The Freedom Union is acknowledged as being in a difficult position ahead of the elections, with a number of polls suggesting voters support currently falls well below the 5 percent threshold needed to get into Parliament.
The prices of poultry products in the Czech Republic have fallen slightly following the identification of cases of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in neighbouring Germany. Poultry farmers and poultry meat producers expressed worries on Friday that dropping rates - while not dramatic yet - could lead to more significant losses in light of the bird flu scare. So far, price differences for wholesalers have not been significant. Experts have estimated that the first case of the bird flu virus is likely to appear in the Czech Republic within the coming weeks. Along with Germany, cases of the H5N1 strain have now been confirmed in countries like Italy, Slovenia, and Hungary.
Russian President Vladimir Putin's official visit to the Czech Republic
is scheduled for March 1-2. In preparation for his visit, Czech
President Vaclav Klaus has already held meetings with Foreign Minister
Cyril Svoboda, Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban, as well as the
Czech Ambassador to Moscow Miroslav Kostelka.
Besides his Czech counterpart, President Putin is expected to meet with Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and the heads of both houses of Parliament.
The Green Party has enough voters' support to gain seats in Parliament,
the result of an opinion poll suggests. The poll, conducted by the STEM
agency, says the party would gain 5.6% of votes if elections were held
this month. The opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats continue to
lead the poll (28.6%), while the Social Democrats, the senior partners
in the ruling coalition, remain in second place (24.5%), though with
2.7% less than last month.
Compared to January, the poll also suggests that the Communists (15.3%) have gained over 2 percent more voters. The only other party that would make it into Parliament is the junior ruling coalition Christian Democratic Party (6.4%). The Freedom Union (the third party in the governing coalition) would only gain 0.3% of voters' support.
Czech cross country skier Katerina Neumannova has come fifth in the 10 km classical at the Winter Olympics in Turin. She said afterwards she had run out of energy towards the end of the race, the second of three events she is taking part in. Neumannova took silver in the 15 km pursuit on Sunday, the Czech Republic's only medal so far in Turin.
A group of activists plan to hold a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in Prague on Friday. The group says it will be protesting, in the name of free speech, against the diplomatic note sent by the Iranian government to the Czech foreign ministry after one of the prophet Mohammed caricatures was re-printed - for illustration purposes - in two Czech newspapers.
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill on same-sex registered partnerships. The bill was approved, after four failed attempts, by 86 of the 200 deputies in the Lower House of Parliament in December. At a press briefing on Thursday, Mr Klaus stressed that a law that so strongly interferes with human relations ought to be supported by the majority of members of parliament. The President also believes that the bill undermines traditional values and the institution of marriage. His veto can only be overridden if it is supported by at least 101 deputies.
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