The chairmen of the lower house and the Senate, Miloslav Vlcek and Premysl Sobotka, will meet their EU counterparts next week to discuss the future of the European constitutional treaty and reforms of the block. The conference of parliament speakers from EU member states will be held on May 26th and 27th in the Slovak capital Bratislava. The participants are also expected to discuss the roles and positions of national parliaments in EU countries and the issue of national versus European identity.
Prague Archbishop, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, remains the head of the Czech Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI has not accepted a resignation Cardinal Vlk tendered prior to reaching 75 years of age. The Pope's decision was announced after a mass in St Vitus Cathedral on Saturday morning. Miloslav Vlk became Prague Archbishop in 1991; in November 1994 he was appointed Cardinal.
Belarus opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich praised former Czech president Vaclav Havel and fellow activists for helping to prevent Minsk gain a seat on the UN's Human Rights Council, the CTK news agency reported on Friday. Mr Milinkevich said special thanks were due to Mr Havel, to the Czech branch of the Human Rights Watch, the Czech NGO People in Need and to Civic Belarus, after Minsk's bid for a seat was defeated in a vote on Thursday. Mr Havel called for UN countries to reject Belarus's candidacy, saying that its own human rights record was "a source of constant concern" and that its bid represented "an insult to all Belarussians passionate about liberty." Vaclav Havel, a former leader of the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in former Czechoslovakia in 1989, is a member of the Civic Belarus association. The playwright has been a constant critic of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, sometimes dubbed "Europe's last dictator."
The Czech Confederation of Trade Unions has announced it will hold a protest demonstration against the government-proposed package of public finance reforms. The protest is to take place in Prague on June 23. The confederation's chairman Milan Stech announced the plan after Saturday's national conference in Prague. Mr Stech, who is also a senator for the Social Democrats, says the planned reform will significantly decrease the tax burden for high-income groups and will badly affect young families and people with medium or low incomes.
Reigning Olympic decathlon champion Roman Sebrle admitted on Friday that a bacterial infection coupled with fever could prevent him from competing fully against US rival Bryan Clay at Gotzis, Austria, next weekend. The May 26-27 meet could be the only chance for a clash between Sebrle and Clay, who beat the Czech to world gold in 2005, before this year's World Championships in Osaka, Japan. Sebrle told Mlada fronta Dnes on Friday that he only resumed his training on Thursday after a week out and under such conditions it is impossible that he can compete for first place at Gotzis against Clay.
The Czech negotiator for a future EU treaty, MEP Jan Zahradil, says the Czech Republic has discarded its past "submissive" posture within the EU to make its voice heard. In an interview for Saturday's Mlada fronta Dnes, Mr Zahradil said the Czech Republic had "changed from the submissive and servile yes-man stance" under previous left-wing government into "a self-confident country which clearly and reasonably formulates its own views on the union's future". The Czech Republic opposes any wide-ranging revamp of the EU's institutional framework while Germany, the current president of the 27-member EU, wants agreement on an ambitious new treaty at an EU summit next month. Mr Zahradil, a Civic Democratic Party member, also says he does not expect a new European constitution, after an earlier draft was rejected in French and Dutch referenda in 2004.
The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, has described Austrian
protesters against a Czech nuclear power plant as "loonies"
("magory"). Speaking to Czech television cameras, Mr
Schwarzenberg said "knowing those loonies, they would continue
holding border blockades". This week Austrian anti-nuclear activists
would block all 16 crossings between the two states, if Vienna did not
file a lawsuit against the Czech Republic. The Austrian government has
sent a diplomatic note, saying the Czechs had not fulfilled the Melk
agreement on safety at the Temelin nuclear station in south Bohemia.
Speaking on a visit to Prague on Friday, Austrian Interior Minister Gunther Platter said his government was committed to ensuring free movement on the border, regardless of developments in the dispute over Temelin.
The supreme state attorney, Renata Vesecka, has sacked Milan Horvath as head of her office's financial crime section, after Mr Horvath lost a briefcase containing files pertaining to the case of fugitive businessman Radovan Krejcir. The briefcase was stolen from Mr Horvath's car, which had been left parked in a street in Brno last Tuesday. Two men were apprehended in possession of the documents, which they had been trying to sell to various media outlets and Mr Krejcir's lawyers. The latter is in custody in South Africa. The Czech Republic has requested his extradition so he can face several charges including conspiracy to murder.
A special police team has been formed to help the search for a 13-year-old girl who went missing from a children's home in Brno a week ago. The police say they now believe it is possible that somebody is hiding Anna, and have raided a number of homes belonging to the girl's relatives. She had been in the care of Klara Mauerova, a 30-year-old woman who is in custody on charges of severely abusing her eight-year-old son. The authorities say they have no record of Anna's existence, and there is considerable confusion over her identity and even age.
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