Daily news summary News

29-02-2004

Czech Republic asked to act as mediator

The Czech Republic could help mediate a solution to the border disputes between Lebanon, Syria and Israel, according to the UN special envoy for South Lebanon Staffan de Misura. Following a meeting with Mr. de Misura, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svododa said a certain offer had been made and it would now be up to the Czech Republic to consider what its role could be. The Czech Republic could make use of its good relations with Israel and its traditionally good relations with Arab countries, including Lebanon and Syria, minister Svoboda said, adding that the Czech Republic would consult its allies in the EU and the US on the offer.

President Klaus slams government

In an interview for Czech Radio, President Vaclav Klaus criticized the Czech government for failing to adequately inform Czech citizens about the impact of EU accession on their everyday lives. The President who enjoys strong public support a year after taking office, said it was often the media not the governing coalition which informed Czechs about fundamental changes that EU membership would bring. Mr. Klaus also criticized the government on a number of other counts and said that only new elections could bring about a radical change since the current distribution of forces in the ruling coalition did not offer any overly-optimistic perspectives. Commenting on the choice of Pavel Telicka for the country's first European Commissioner, the President said he was "a typical civil servant, proficient in the EU environment" but that disturbingly, his views were unknown. Although he is not unknown, as a person he is a blank card and that is not good, Mr. Klaus said.

People smugglers arrested

German border police have arrested a gang of people smugglers, among them two Czechs. The gang was arrested on Saturday night as they attempted to smuggle a group of 26 Chinese refugees into the country. They were hidden in a beer van in what the police described as atrocious conditions. The refugees had paid the gang 4,000 euros each to be smuggled into Germany.

Price of Pilsner beer to go up

The leading Czech beer brewer Pilsner Urquell has announced an increase in the price of Pilsner beer. This should send the price of bottled beer and beer on tap up by one crown per half a litre as of Monday. Pilsner Urquell controls 50 percent of the market and its decision is expected to set off a wave of price increases by other beer producers in the country.

Paul McCartney concert in Prague

The world famous singer and songwriter Sir Paul McCartney, will be giving a concert in Prague within the framework of his O4 Summer Tour, during which he will be performing in 13 cities. The one time Beatles idol has not performed live in the Czech capital before. His Prague concert has been scheduled for June 6th. His summer tour also includes Lisbon, Madrid, Zurich, Leipzig, several concerts in Scandinavia and one in Russia's St. Petersburg.

Weather:

Monday is expected to be overcast with scattered snow showers and day temperatures between minus 2 and plus 2 degrees Celsius.

29-02-2004