Deputy Prime Minister and labour and social affairs minister Vladimir Spidla has been elected the new chairman of the ruling Social Democratic Party. His predecessor, Milos Zeman, however, remains Prime Minister. Mr. Zeman has led the party since 1992. Mr. Spidla's election by the party's congress had been expected as he was the only candidate for the post. Mr. Spidla has been elected for a two-year term and he has committed himself to lead the Social Democratic Party to another victory in parliamentary elections in 2002. As far as the party's policies are concerned, Mr. Spidla sees the Czech Republic's membership of the European Union as the primary goal.
The Social Democratic Party was established 123 years ago, on April 7, 1878.
The number of asylum seekers in the Czech Republic is growing. The Ministry of Interior sees it as necessary to speed up the procedure of granting asylum and make certain changes to the legislation so that unjustified applications can be rejected straight at point of entry. The ministry claims that many refugees misuse the lengthy asylum procedures to legalise their stay on the country for other purposes. On Monday, the government will debate the proposed changes which would harmonise Czech legislation with EU standards.
While in 1990's, most asylum seekers came form Asia, in the recent months, there has been a growing number of refugees from Romania, Ukraine and other countries of the former Soviet union.
Czech and German justice ministers, Jaroslav Bures and Herta Däubler-Gmelin, have agreed to join forces in fighting child prostitution in the border regions. They see the solution in establishing specialised teams of state attorneys in these regions who would cooperate across the border for better prevention of this type of crime. Mrs. Däubler-Gmelin said she was worried about the role of Germany in the spread of child prostitution. Mr. Bures pointed out that cooperation will now proceed from theoretical talks to a practical level.
Several hundred German anti-nuclear activists staged a protest demonstration against the Czech nuclear power station Temelin at a Czech-German border crossing at Bayerische Eisenstein on Saturday. They want to continue their protest actions until the controversial power station is closed down. They consider the plant, which combines Soviet-designed reactors with western control technology, as dangerous and see evidence of this in the series of technical problems that have troubled Temelin since going on-line last autumn.
U.S. President George Bush has nominated businessman Craig Stapleton as the new U.S. ambassador to the Czech Republic. Stapleton, who lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, has been president of Marsh and McLennan Real Estate Advisors since 1982. He also served on the board of directors of the U.S. Peace Corps under Bush's father, former President George Bush, and is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard University Business School. Bush said in a statement that the U.S. enjoys close relations with the Czech Republic, and added that Craig Stapleton has worked extensively in European business affairs.
And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a cloudy day with scattered showers, with afternoon highs ranging from 12 to 16 degrees Celsius. The beginning of next week should be much the same, cloudy with occasional showers and the highest daytime temperatures around ten degrees Celsius.
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