Daily news summary News

21-05-2004

Czech, Slovak leaders agree to maintain special relationship

The Czech Republic and Slovakia have signed a memorandum committing their countries to maintaining their special relationship within the European Union, which both joined at the beginning of May. The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said the Czech Republic had not signed and would not sign such an agreement with any other country. During two days of talks in Prague the Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda met with President Klaus, Prime Minister Spidla and members of Parliament to debate various aspects of bilateral cooperation and changes brought about by the countries' entry to the EU.

Visegrad defence ministers to discuss cooperation

The defence ministers of the Visegrad Group -a lose alliance of four Central European states - are to meet in Prague on Monday to debate future cooperation within the European Union. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary joined the EU on May 1st but have agreed to maintain Visegrad Group cooperation which helped them meet EU accession criteria. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have particularly close ties, due to 70 years of coexistence in the former Czechoslovak federation. Both countries faced similar problems in bringing their military technology to NATO standards and are now considering the possibility of close cooperation in protecting their air-space.

Amnesty International welcomes Czech government's decision on Vera radar

Amnesty International has welcomed the Czech government's decision to prevent the sale of a Czech-made radar system to China. The Cabinet on Wednesday agreed that the sale was not in line with the country's foreign policy interests and asked the Industry and Trade Ministry to revoke a sales license it approved at the beginning of the year. News of the planned sale brought criticism from politicians at home and abroad. The Vera radar is a highly sensitive surveillance system, the successor to the Tamara radar which is said to be able to detect US stealth aircraft. Amnesty has proposed that in its annual report on arms exports the Czech Republic also include rejected license applications.

Prime Minister Spidla meets Irish, Slovak counterparts in Prague

The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, discussed the planned constitution for the European Union with his Czech counterpart, Vladimir Spidla, while on a short visit to Prague on Thursday. Mr Ahern, who is also currently the President of the European Council, said disagreements remained over when to use qualified majority voting, while Mr Spidla said he believed it was likely agreement would be reached over the controversial constitution.

Klaus treason charge "absurd", says president's chancellor

A spokesman for President Vaclav Klaus has dismissed as absurd a charge of treason levelled against the president by a Christian Democrat senator. Senator Zdenek Barta has drafted a constitutional charge of treason against President Klaus for failing to propose suitable new judges to the Constitutional Court, which currently lacks the necessary number of judges to do its business. The Senate has found many of the President's candidates unacceptable, which accounts for the vacancies. The President's chancellor, Jiri Weigl, said the charge was politically motivated and groundless.

Weather:

The weekend is expected to bring cloudy to overcast skies with scattered showers and day temperatures between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius.

21-05-2004