The Iraqi Culture Minister Mufid al-Jazairi has said that the prolongation of the stay in Iraq of Czech military police officers would have political significance for his country. Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Mr Jazairi said that technically, the withdrawal of a hundred Czech soldiers is of no great importance but, as he said, the enemies of democracy are trying to threaten countries involved in Iraq and make them leave the country. Even the withdrawal of such a small group as the Czech unit would be seen as a political signal of support for the terrorists, the Iraqi official said. A Czech military police unit are helping to train local security forces in southern Iraq. The Czech Parliament is going to discuss whether their stay will be extended until the end of February 2005.
A referendum held this weekend in the country's second city of Brno on the relocation of the city's main railway station has ended in failure because of a low turnout. Only around 25 percent of all eligible voters took part in the poll. For the results to be legally binding for the city authorities the turnout would have had to exceed 50 percent. The authorities in Brno, which is an important railway hub, want to build a new station outside the city centre. Eighty-five percent of those who turned up for the referendum voted against the relocation.
The Reuters news agency has reported that a Europe-wide study of anti-smoking policies due out on Tuesday will criticise Czech anti-smoking measures. The report ranks 28 European countries for their progress on a range of anti-smoking measures, including raising tax on cigarettes, smoke-free policies in offices, bars and restaurants, anti-tobacco advertising and clear warnings on cigarette packets. Among other things, the Czech Republic will be criticised for low prices of cigarettes in relation to wages. While a packet of 20 Marlboro cigarettes costs almost 7 euros in Britain, it is around 2 euros in the Czech Republic. Fifty people are believed to die of smoking-related diseases every day in the Czech Republic.
Inspectors from the Czech Trade Inspection have confiscated goods worth almost 3 million euros in a surprise raid on an open-air market near the border crossing at Rozvadov on the Czech-German border. Most of the vendors fled after police entered the market. The others were asked in Czech and Vietnamese to submit their goods for examination and produce documents proving the origin of their merchandise. Counterfeited goods, confiscated at the market, worth some 1 million euros, will be donated to orphanages. Items that have not been claimed by anyone will be stored for one year to be then confiscated by the state.
Striker Jan Koller's first-half penalty secured the Czech Republic their first points with a 1:0 victory over Romania in their World Cup European qualifying Group One match on Saturday. The Czechs, beaten 2:0 by the Netherlands in their opening game, were heavily depleted in midfield with the sudden retirement of Pavel Nedved and injuries to Karel Poborsky and Vladimir Smicer.
Monday should be another sunny day with daytime temperatures hovering around 12 degrees Celsius.
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