The leader of the Civic Democratic Party, Vaclav Klaus, said on Thursday that he would no longer defend his post as party leader as he intended to accept the candidature for president if he were seriously nominated. In recent months, there has been much speculation over Mr Klaus' future plans on the political scene. As one of the party's founding fathers, he took much of the responsibility for its failure in June's elections and commentators say his chances of holding on to party leadership - a post he has enjoyed for over eleven years - have weakened significantly with other party members lobbying for the post. Political commentators say the likeliness of Mr Klaus becoming president was as small as that of him being re-elected as party leader.
A court in London, on Thursday, rejected a lawsuit filed by members of the Czech Roma community against British immigration controls at Prague's Ruzyne airport. After having been prevented by British customs officials from boarding a plane heading for Britain at Ruzyne airport despite carrying valid travel documents and air tickets, the group of Roma filed the lawsuit against the British authorities in the hope of receiving a court ruling that would find the airport checks discriminatory and therefore illegal. The London-based Liberty human rights organisation, which represented the Roma plaintiffs in court, said it would appeal against the ruling.
Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda visited Ireland on Thursday, in the hope of gaining support for EU enlargement. Mr Svoboda met with Irish President Mary McAleese, Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and other Irish supporters of the Nice treaty, which is considered a foundation for the enlargement process. Irish voters are currently preparing for a referendum on the treaty, to take place on October 19th. Last year, the people of Ireland rejected it by 54 percent to 46. At the time, however, just one in three Irish citizens bothered to vote. Opinion polls show that the majority of Irish people are in favour of enlargement.
Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel welcomed the European Commission's approval of the EU's enlargement plan on Thursday, however warning that outstanding problems must not be underestimated. In an interview for Austrian radio, Mr Schuessel said it "was an absolute must" to implement safety agreements at the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. He furthermore noted that a Czech reaction on the issue of the post-war Benes Decrees that legitimised the expulsion of some 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia was also a step that Prague needed to take.
The Czech Republic is coping well with preparations for the NATO summit that is to be held in Prague late in November, NATO officials said on Thursday. Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Alexandr Vondra - the Czech government commissioner for the preparation of the summit - the officials praised the country's efforts to restore Prague after devastating floods hit the city and much of the country in August, adding that preparations for the summit were on a very good level. According to Mr Vondra, a solution has been found to the accommodation crisis that followed the floods when water had damaged the Liechtenstein palace that was to house NATO Secretary General George Robertson and his entourage as well as the Four Seasons hotel, in which other summit participants were to stay. The only major problem will be the large number of closed-off roads and metro stations that will not be functional by November 21st when the summit begins.
Friday is expected to have mostly overcast skies with occasional rain and temperatures between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius. We can expect showers to continue throughout the weekend with day-time temperatures on Saturday and Sunday ranging from 6 to 10 degrees Celsius.
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