Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has expressed surprise at the failure of Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan to win the first round of direct presidential elections, which were held in neighbouring Slovakia on Saturday. The election results see the former controversial prime minister, Vladimir Meciar, and his former right-hand man Ivan Gasparovic (both opposition candidates) advance to the second round on April 17. Mr Spidla added, however, that he was convinced Czech-Slovak relations would continue to blossom, no matter who is elected president.
A record 190 delegates attended the 13th annual Czech-German conference of politicians, journalists and scientists, which came to an end in the town of Jihlava on Sunday. The three-day event, organised by the Bernard Bolzano Foundation, aims at promoting discussion and finding solutions to various problem areas causing friction in Czech-German relations. Conference participants shared the view that, concerning the period following WWII, Czechs and Germans will most likely never come to an agreement. However, according to Czech historian Jan Kren, besides agreeing to disagree, both sides need to acknowledge each other and be prepared to listen to the other's arguments.
The Czech book "Labyrintem Revoluce", which translates into "Through the Labyrinth of the Revolution", a view of the Velvet Revolution and the political development that followed, has won the Magnesia Litera Book of the Year Award. The winners of the Magnesia Litera book awards for the best Czech books published in 2003 were announced at Prague's City Library on Saturday night. Book of the Year author, Jiri Suk, also won the first prize in the non-fiction category.
A Czech Airlines (CSA) flight carrying 116 passengers from Prague to Amsterdam was forced to turn back on Sunday after experiencing technical difficulties. A spokesperson for the national carrier said the plane, a Boeing 737-400, suffered problems with its engine, forcing it to return to Prague's Ruzyne airport shortly after take-off. CSA management says the passengers on the flight were never in any danger and has attributed the growing number of technical problems experienced in the past few months to the significantly larger number of flights offered this year.
Police in Moravia have deported a Palestinian teenager who attempted to enter the Czech Republic from Slovakia illegally on Saturday by swimming through the cold waters of Morava River. The police spotted the man in the river and detained him as soon as he reached its banks on the Czech side. The sixteen-year old Palestinian was deported back to Slovakia on Sunday and has been banned from entering the Czech Republic until 2007.
Latest figures released by the Czech Statistics Office show that exports to EU states have risen significantly in the first two months of this year. Czech exports to the European Union have increased by 8.7 percent year on year to amount to 165.6 billion Czech crowns. The demand for Czech products mainly rose in Belgium, Italy, Austria and Germany. Exports to France, on the other hand, have decreased.
Monday is expected to have overcast skies with day-time temperatures between 9 and 12 degrees Celsius.
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