Zeman wants EU rights charter as basis for European constitution
The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman has called for the EU's new Charter of Fundamental Rights to serve as the basis for a future European constitution.
Speaking before the leaders of 15 EU countries and 12 candidate nations at the European Union summit in the French city of Nice, Mr Zeman said he favoured pro- integration and federalist streams within the EU. He said the bloc should foster common monetary, foreign, security and defence policies.
Leading candidates for European Union membership urged the bloc's leaders to approve reforms necessary for expansion, but vowed to push on with preparations for admission whatever happens.
The Czech Republic has indicated it will no longer endorse United Nations resolutions condemning human rights abuses in Fidel Castro's Cuba.
The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said during his visit to Chile that international sanctions against Cuba were largely counterproductive. But he said that the Cuban regime must radically improve its human rights record and embark on the path towards democratisation.
Mr Kavan said economic sanctions were a blanket measure which affected a broad strata of the Cuban population but not the country's political establishment.
Czech nationals will have to obtain visas to visit New Zealand from next year because of concerns over widespread immigration abuse.
The country's Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel said today that her government would suspend its visa-free relations with the Czech Republic and Thailand from January 1 due to the number of visitors from those countries claiming refugee status on arrival, being refused entry at the border, or working illegally in New Zealand.
On average, 11 Czech nationals a month make claims for refugee status. Yet in recent times none of them has been successful.
The Czech parliament has approved the country's participation in NATO's integrated air defence system.
The decision was made at a closed-door session of the lower house despite fierce opposition mostly from communist members of parliament.
Parliamentary sources told correspondents that the decision will enable allied air forces to take part in defending the Czech airspace, and pave the way to Czech participation in defending other allied countries.
In a widely expected move, the lower house of parliament has overruled President Vaclav Havel's veto concerning amendments to the law on the Czech National Bank.
Only smaller parties voted against the bill, which according to some opposition parties and the president curbs the independent status of the central bank and is at variance with the norms and requirements of the European Union.
Our correspondent says many banking experts feel that Czech legislators should pay more respect to European standards.
President Havel pre-empted some of the proposed curbs on the central bank by appointing its new governor before the amendment was returned to the house. Sources at the presidential office says the president is intent on taking the case to the constitutional court.
And finally, a look at the weather in the Czech Republic. On Friday, warmer air will continue to pour into the Czech Republic from Southern Europe, brining along morning fogs, low skies, and scattered showers with some drizzle in the morning. The lowest morning temperatures will be between minus one and plus three degrees Celsius, daytime highs between three and seven degrees above freezing.
At the weekend, a cold front will advance eastward across Czech territory. It's going to be a cloudy weekend with scattered showers and morning mists, morning lows between zero and plus four degrees Celsius, and maximum daytime temperatures between four and eight degrees.
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