As the number of suspected cases of foot-and-mouth disease on the European mainland is on the increase, the Czech Republic's Epidemic Commission has decided to take further steps in preventing the virus from entering the country. As of Tuesday, tighter controls have been imposed at Prague's Ruzyne airport. All passengers coming from EU countries must pass over disinfecting mats and all meat products carried by passengers will be confiscated. Furthermore, all cars and people entering the Czech Republic from Germany, Austria, and Poland will also be disinfected.
The Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, who is currently on a five-day visit to India to promote both political and business relations, told a press conference on Monday that the last few decades have proven that there are distinct similarities in the two countries' peaceful approach to solving political conflicts. Using the example of the Velvet Revolution, during which the Czech people opposed the Communist regime, Mr. Zeman compared it to Mahatma Ghandi's peaceful leadership in India. Mr. Zeman's agenda also includes promoting business ties with India. Last year, trade between India and the Czech Republic totalled 150 million U.S. dollars. According to Mr. Zeman, there is room for further growth.
Following a meeting with the acting U.S. ambassador, Steve Coffey, on Monday, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan assured journalists that there was nothing threatening Czech-U.S. relations as the number of issues that both countries agreed on, far outweigh their disagreements. In the past few days the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has twice expressed his disapproval and concern over an addition made by the Czech Republic to a UN resolution on human rights violations in Cuba, which questions the productivity of economic sanctions against the island. U.S. dissatisfaction with this passage was made clear on Saturday, when Mr. Powell telephoned Czech President Vaclav Havel, to express what he called his deep concern over the wording of the resolution.
In a report published on Monday, Amnesty International has called on the Czech Republic to firmly address the issue of police brutality. The report refers to more than one hundred arrests of anti-globalisation protesters made in Prague last September during the IMF and World Bank meetings, and includes the testimonies of over 60 people who claim to have been subjected to police brutality whilst in detention.
Czech-Austrian relations, which have been strained in recent months over the issue of the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia, received a boost on Monday, as Austria's Benita Ferrero-Waldner announced that support for EU expansion is to become a priority of Austrian foreign policy. Mrs. Ferrero-Waldner said her country will increase co-operation with neighbours, such as the Czech Republic, which are currently preparing for EU membership, as EU enlargement would benefit all - Austria's economy, for example, is forecast to rise by 0.5% upon EU expansion.
The Chairman of the Civic Association for the Protection of Patients, Vladimira Boskova, has proposed that the current Minister of Health, Bohumil Fiser be removed from office. Mrs. Boskova said that proposed laws recently put forward by the Czech Health Minister were badly thought out and would only further harm the health sector. She added that this was a further example of the decline in Czech healthcare and would increase the gap between the standard of care in the Czech Republic and developed countries.
And finally, a quick look at the weather. Day-time temperatures on Tuesday are forecast at 6 to 10 degrees Celsius with occasional showers. Tonight is expected to be cloudy with temperatures between -1 and 3 degrees Celsius and Wednesday's temperatures shall range between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius.
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