President Klaus in Slovakia

Czech President Vaclav Klaus and his Slovak counterpart Ivan Gasparovic have both maintained that a bilateral agreement on border controls need not be formal. The two presidents met during Mr Klaus' one day official visit to Slovakia on Thursday. Since Czechoslovakia split into the two countries after the so-called "Velvet Divorce" of 1993, controls along their respective borders have been of a symbolic nature. However, with Slovaks and Czechs in the European Union, they are required to introduce any unusual border controls with an official bilateral agreement.

During his visit, Mr Klaus also said he did not expect a Czech referendum on Turkey's accession to the EU. Besides holding talks with Mr Gasparovic, the Czech president also received an honorary doctorate at the University of Economics in Bratislava and signed his books in a bookshop in the city centre. Thursday's trip is Mr Klaus' second visit to Slovakia in six months.

Interior Minister Bublan says law on trade in military equipment needs to be revised

Current Czech law on the trade in military equipment is outdated and needs to be amended, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said on Thursday. Speaking after a National Security Council meeting, he noted the law is ten years old and fails to meet EU requirements. According to Mr Bublan, legislative and organisational changes in relations to the respective ministries and other state bodies concerned with the security system also need to be introduced. The new law should monitor the export of weapons more effectively and regulate trade in other military equipment, such as the "Vera" radar system, which various countries, including the United States and China, have expressed an interest in.

Army officer serving in Baghdad charged with theft

A Czech Army liaison officer serving in Baghdad is believed to have stolen two notebook computers in May belonging to the Czech Foreign Ministry. The man reported the two computers as stolen but they were later found in his luggage. Police have charged the officer with theft and he faces up to three years in prison.

Economist Pavel Mertlik predicts low balance of trade deficit

The Czech Republic can expect to record its lowest balance of trade deficit since 1993, according to former Czech finance minister and Raiffeisenbank economist Pavel Mertlik. The positive development is attributed to the fact that Czech exports have increased significantly with EU membership. Mr Mertlik predicts this year's deficit to range from 50 to 60 billion crowns, as opposed to the 70 billion recorded in 2003 and 2002.

Tajik president in Prague on official visit

The President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmonov, left for the Czech Republic on Thursday as part of a six-day tour that will also take him to Luxembourg and Belgium, the AFP new agency reported. Mr Rakhmonov is to hold talks with Czech leaders aimed at securing investment in a hydroelectric power station in Sangtuda, some 60 kilometres southeast of the Tajik capital Dushanbe. Dushanbe is struggling to complete financing for the plant, which has already taken 15 years to build and Tajik authorities are in negotiations with Iran over a 400-million-US dollar grant to complete the Soviet-era project.

Elfriede Jelinek wins 2004 Nobel literature prize

Austrian novelist and playwright Elfriede Jelinek is the first since 1996 to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Elfriede Jelinek, whose father is of Czech-Jewish origin, is best-known for her autobiographical 1983 novel 'The Piano Teacher', which was made into a movie in 2001. The Swedish Academy praised "her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power". But, in Austria, Elfriede Jelinek is a controversial figure, as she was a member of the Communist Party from 1974-1991. The prestigious Nobel Prize is worth 10 million Swedish crowns, or some 1.36 million US dollars. Czech author Milan Kundera had been considered a favourite to win the Nobel Prize this year.

Football: Galasek chosen to replace Nedved as Czech captain

Midfielder Tomas Galasek has been selected as the new captain of the Czech Republic, following the retirement from international football of Pavel Nedved. Galasek, who is 31 and plays for Dutch club Ajax Amsterdam, was chosen as captain by his Czech teammates, who are in Prague preparing for World Cup qualifying games against Romania and Armenia.


Friday is expected to have cloudy skies with rain throughout the country and day-time temperatures reaching a maximum of 17 degrees Celsius.