The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, who on Saturday ended a three day official visit to France, has received assurances that France fully supports Czech membership in the European Union. The French Premier Jean Pierre Raffarin said during talks with Mr. Spidla, that the two countries had traditionally good relations and that even if the final stage of EU negotiations proved tough the Czech Republic could count on French support. The CTK press agency notes that according to opinion polls the French public is the least enthusiastic about EU expansion and the French government is preparing to address the issue in a broad information campaign later this year. The Czech Prime Minister's three day official visit to France focussed on bilateral ties, EU expansion and the upcoming NATO summit in Prague.
The Civic Democratic Party has nominated the party's outgoing chairman Vaclav Klaus for the post of President. The party also expressed support for direct presidential elections, saying that it was undignified for parties to haggle over who should be the next head of state. Mr. Klaus announced earlier this week that he would not run for re-election as party leader but would accept a nomination for the presidential elections. Mr. Klaus' chances of winning the elections are meager since none of the parties of the governing coalition, which has a slim majority in Parliament, are likely to support him. The Civic Democrats believe that in a direct vote Vaclav Klaus' chances of success would be much higher.
The Prague police is questioning a dozen British football rowdies in connection with a pub brawl on the eve of the European Championship qualifying match between England and Slovakia. Some 40 British football rowdies got into a brawl at the Atlas pub in Prague close to midnight on Friday , just hours before they were supposed to board a train for the Slovak capital Bratislava, where the match takes place. They demolished much of the pub's furnishings causing an estimated 100,000 crowns damage. There were no serious injuries. Another 300 British football fans boarded the morning train for Bratislava without incident. The situation was far more serious in the Slovak capital where two British fans were shot and wounded in the early hours of Saturday.
The European Commission has earmarked 24 million euros / 720 million Czech crowns/ for flood-relief projects in the Czech Republic. Half of the money is to be used for repairing damage to the country's infra-structure, the rest will be used for environment-related projects. The August floods devastated large parts of the Czech Republic, damaging nine out of thirteen regions. The overall damage estimate is close to 80 billion Czech crowns. Industrial dryers are still working around the clock and town halls are using available finances for the construction of new homes before the onset of winter.
The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda and the Austrian Environment Minister Wilhelm Molterer have agreed to set up a joint team of experts which would debate controversial issues relating to the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia and nuclear energy in general. Since coming to office the Czech Foreign Minister has made concerted efforts to diffuse tension over the Temelin controversy and to de-politicize the issue. The Austrian Environment Minister has expressed appreciation of these efforts, saying that it was important to debate the issue of nuclear energy on broader scale from the point of view of a sustainable energy policy for the whole continent.
Football: Saturday's European Championship group three qualifier match between the Czech Republic and Moldova went in the Czechs favour. The Czech team won 2:0. The scorers were Marek Jankulowski and Tomas Rosicky.
Saturday night is expected to be cloudy to overcast with drizzle in many parts of the country and snow in the higher altitudes. Night temperatures should hover around freezing point. Sunday should bring more gray skies and rain with afternoon temperatures between 5 and 9 degrees C.
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