Clients of the travel agency Sunny Days who failed to return home from a holiday in Egypt on Sunday because of a plane defect were brought home on a charter flight early on Tuesday. Close to 180 holiday makers were stuck at Hurghada Airport for close to 48 hours after the Egyptian air company Coral Blue cancelled their flight, citing an engine defect. Many of them have said they are prepared to file complaints because they received little or no help from either the airline of the Sunny Days travel agency.
The lower house on Tuesday approved the 2008 state budget in its first reading. The proposed budget envisages a deficit of 70.8 billion crowns (3.68 billion dollars) or 2.95 percent of total economic output. The 2008 deficit is below the 3.0 percent of gross domestic product ceiling required for adoption of the single European currency, although Prague has not yet set a target date for the switch from the crown to the euro. Lower house committees can now delve into the finer details of the budget, with a second and final, third, reading scheduled for early December.
A Czech national has been deported from Cuba for taking part in a conference organized by Cuban dissidents. According to the Spanish news agency EFE -two Europeans - a Czech and a Slovak - who participated in a conference on free and fair elections on the island were arrested in Santa Clara on Sunday morning and shortly after put on a plane to Paris. The Czech Embassy in Havana said it had learnt about the incident from dissident sources but had received no official information.
In a related development, Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Tomas Pojar said on Tuesday that he expected talks on the radar between Prague and Washington to last for several more months. Mr. Pojar said that while the Czech side had no interest in artificially prolonging the negotiations the small print was important not least because it would be crucial in obtaining Parliament's approval for the project.
Dagmar Havlova, wife of the former Czech president Vaclav Havel, is to play the lead role in a film directed by Zdenek Zelenka. Mrs. Havlova who was a prominent film and stage actress before she married the former president has already made a successful theatre come-back appearing in a comedy called Park Your Car in Harvard Yard. Her new role in film is based on the real life story of a mother who lost her son in a tragic accident.
The Prague Municipal Court has struck down a city hall ban on a planned neo-Nazi march through the city's historic Jewish quarter. The march has been set to take place on November 10th, the anniversary of Kristallnacht - a notorious Nazi pogrom against Jews in Germany in 1938. It is the second time the court has ruled in the favour of the right-wing extremists, making it likely the march will now take place. In its ruling the court cited serious procedural errors on the part of the city in its attempt to ban the planned event. According to reports, both sides in the case will receive written statements from the court on Wednesday. Prague City Hall has said it is not giving up the fight and will take further steps to prevent the march taking place.
The US has unveiled a plan to overcome Russian hostility to its European anti-missile shield. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who is in Europe to drum up support for Washington's plan to deploy parts of a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland said at a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday that Washington might allow a Russian presence at the Czech radar facility and the interceptor missile site in Poland. Mr. Gates who has recently held talks in Moscow said the United States might delay the activation of its missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland if Russia agreed to cooperate. Prague and Warsaw are expected to come to a decision on the matter next year.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has reacted to the preliminary results of early elections in Poland by saying he expects the new Polish government will push through needed reforms and will cooperate more with the EU. Mr Schwarzenberg also said he expects the new administration to be less confrontational regarding relations with Germany. According to preliminary results in Poland's election, the opposition Civic Platform (headed by Donald Tusk) won Poland's election far in front of the Law and Justice party of the Kaczynski brothers. Mr Schwarzenberg congratulated the victors, saying the result in Poland showed a shift back towards the centre on the part of voters.
The culture ministry has confirmed that Czech-born writer Milan Kundera will be awarded the Czech Republic's national prize for literature. The novelist will be given the prize for the Czech-language edition of "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" published last year. The novel was originally written in 1982 and was first published in Czech by the Toronto-based "68 Publishers". Mr Kundera, 78, has lived in France for years and has long shunned the media spotlight; only a few of the author's books have been published in his homeland since the collapse of communism, the last in Czech being "Immortality" in 1990.
Vaclav Klaus has come out in defence of city hall representatives from the Civic Democratic Party, criticised in recent days for opposition to an avant garde proposal for the new National Library. The design, by Czech-born British architect Jan Kaplicky, was the winning entry in an international competition earlier this year. Mr Kaplicky himself has stated the proposal - nicknamed "The Blob" - has been politicised. He has also complained that developments concerning the proposal were reminiscent of practices under the communist regime. Mr Klaus has countered in Monday's edition of Mlada Fronta Dnes by suggesting that Mr Kaplicky had "degraded" others' opinions, making clear in his view that assembly representatives on the issue of the library building have been criticised unfairly.
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