Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda met his French counterpart Michel Barnier in Paris on Thursday to discuss the two countries' business and trade relations, the European Union Constitution and also the current situation in Iraq. Mr Barnier said after the meeting that the situation in Iraq was extremely serious and could be resolved only if Iraqi citizens, the countries of the region and the international community increase their efforts. He said that an international conference of all involved countries and organisations would be especially useful. Mr Svoboda said the Czech Republic was against any individual action and supported a solution agreed on by the European Union and the United States. Mr Svoboda ended his two-day visit to France on Thursday afternoon.
The unemployment figure for March has dropped to 10.7 percent, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry announced on Thursday. Compared to February, when the ministry announced a record-high 10.9 percent, the number of jobless people decreased by some 11,000 to reach 559,822 (almost 560 thousand). Compared to figures in March of the previous year, the number of unemployed increased by more than 30,000.
The Finance Ministry has announced that the Czech state debt amounted to 537.9 billion crowns (18 billion euros) at the end of the first quarter, that is 44.7 billion more than at the end of 2003. The Czech Republic's per capita debt exceeded 53,000 crowns. According to the EU statistical office Eurostat, the Czech Republic's public debt amounted to 956.2 billion crowns last year, which was 37.6 percent of the country's GDP.
The host of a political discussion programme on the commercial TV station Nova, Jana Bobosikova, has confirmed she is running for a seat in the European Parliament. Ms Bobosikova is running for the Independents' Movement alongside former TV Nova head, Senator Vladimir Zelezny. Ms Bobosikova said she was leaving her job in TV Nova. The Czech Republic will hold its first ever elections to the European Parliament in mid-June.
Police say they detained a group of illegal immigrants on Thursday morning, close to the town of Hodonin, South Moravia. The group of refugees from Chechnya and Armenia had successfully crossed the bridge over the Morava River - a natural border between Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Half of the group were young children between the ages of two and four. One child, bleeding from a wound on the neck, had to be taken to hospital for treatment, a police spokesperson said.
The pilot of an ultralight plane died on Thursday when his plane fell to the ground and caught fire in a forest near the northern city of Liberec. An investigation has been launched into the cause of the crash. A number of people die in the Czech Republic in ultralight plane crashes every year. Thursday's crash has been the second fatal accident in the Liberec region in the past year.
The Czech public service radio, Cesky rozhlas has received two awards in the "Media Helping Historical Monuments" competition for journalists. Czech Radio studios in the cities of Ceske Budejovice and Plzen have been awarded for consistent attention paid to monuments in South and West Bohemia. The competition is co-organised by the Syndicate of Journalists under the auspices of Senate Chairman Petr Pithart.
Friday should be a sunny day with daytime temperatures reaching highs of 16 degrees Celsius.
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