The Czech Agriculture Ministry has announced it is to begin testing all cattle over 30 months following the country's first confirmed case of BSE, the first outside Western Europe. Officials are now waiting for the results of a German test on a sample of tissue from a six-year-old cow, following two positive tests in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile Austria has banned all imports of Czech beef, following in the footsteps of Slovakia and Poland, while Hungary has announced that it will restrict imports of Czech beef to meat that has been tested for BSE. EU officials have expressed their regret over the confirmation of the test results, but say it will have no impact on EU policy towards the Czech Republic. Earlier the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman said the positive test was an unpleasant development, but added there was no reason to panic.
The Czech Republic and other candidates for membership of the European Union have said they are disappointed but determined to carry on following the shock defeat of the Irish referendum on EU enlargement. The people of Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty on EU reform by 54 percent to 46 on Friday, in a poll marked by low turnout. Ireland is the only country required by law to hold a referendum on EU reform. The Nice Treaty, which paves the way for the entry of 12 new members, must be ratified by all 15 EU states. EU officials have sought to put a brave face on the surprise defeat, saying the enlargement process will go ahead regardless. But the timing of the rejection is deeply embarrassing for the EU, whose leaders meet late next week in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. The Czech President Vaclav Havel has been quoted as saying that if the referendum derails the European enlargement process, it will be suicide for Europe.
The Prime Minister Milos Zeman has used a visit to the Czech Army's 7th Reconnaissance Unit in Kosovo to announce his intention to strengthen the Czech contribution to the K-FOR mission from the beginning of next year. The Czech presence in Kosovo could increase from the present 170 soldiers to 400, with 100 Slovak soldiers serving alongside them in a joint unit. The Defence Ministry has said the Czech Republic should gradually withdraw from Bosnia's S-FOR mission, and concentrate exclusively on Kosovo.
President Havel has invited the Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica to visit the Czech Republic, following talks between the two men at a summit of Central European presidents in the Italian city of Verbania. A spokesman said the two men had discussed the situation in the Balkans and improving Czech-Yugoslav relations. The two countries enjoyed close ties under Communism, and the former Yugoslavia was a popular holiday destination for Czech tourists. Relations suffered however during the Kosovo conflict, when the Czech Republic - a fresh member of NATO - endorsed the alliance's bombing of Yugoslavia.
Police in Prague say they have broken up a gang trading women as prostitutes, arresting six men in night-time raids in South Bohemia. A spokesman said a police officer from the town of Cesky Krumlov was among those arrested. Police also detained 14 girls from Ukraine and Slovakia, some of them underage. A spokesman said the girls were forced to work as prostitutes in local sex clubs.
A district court in the Northern Moravian city of Olomouc has confirmed a prison sentence of one year for a far-right skinhead charged with racially motivated crimes. Jiri Tuma was originally found guilty of physical assault, hooliganism and race offences in his home town of Jesenik. This verdict is final and cannot be appealed.
And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast. Saturday night will remain cloudy with scattered showers in places. They'll be more overcast and rainy weather on Sunday, with daytime temperatures expected to peak at 19 degrees Celsius. And there's more cool and rainy weather forecast for the beginning of next week.
New foreigners’ law to change conditions for non-EU nationals
Czech rock climber Adam Ondra knocked out of World Cup in Japan
Czech foreign ministry reports record number of visa applications
New index shows locations with best quality of life in Czech Republic
Archaeologists unearth rare Renaissance-Baroque brew house in ‘Czech Paradise’