News

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Klaus and cabinet ministers agree on common position on EU ahead of June summit

Czech President Vaclav Klaus and members of the government representing the country abroad held a meeting on Thursday to form a common position on the European Union ahead of the EU summit in June. Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said Prague expects the summit to produce a road map for the creation of a new document on the EU's future role. This document should ideally not be called a constitution, not create the post of EU foreign minister, leave out the human rights charter, and should give individual member states the right to re-vote on issues decided in Brussels that threaten their sovereignty.

Before the summit, Mr Topolanek also hopes to discuss the Czech position with his outgoing British counterpart Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel whose country currently holds the EU presidency.

Poll: elections would end in stalemate

A new opinion poll suggests that general elections would end in a stalemate if they were held tomorrow and would therefore not shake the current left-right balance in parliament. In the poll, conducted by the STEM agency, the Civic Democratic Party, which won the elections last year, and the Social Democrats, who came second would win 71 seats each in the lower house. The Communists would hold 29 seats, the Greens 18 seats, and the Christian Democrats 11 seats. Just like last year, the 200 seats would be evenly split between the left and the right side of the political spectrum.

Hospital battles two-hour blackout

Hospital staff in the west Bohemian town of Karlovy Vary had to fight for the lives of patients after a power cut left them without electricity for two hours. A blackout on Wednesday night had the hospital run on emergency power for forty-five minutes when the generator suddenly failed too. Of the 300 patients in the hospital, four of them were in critical condition and doctors and nurses had to operate their medical instruments manually to keep them alive. It has yet to be determined why the generator failed.

Cardinal Vlk receives medal of merit

President Vaclav Klaus awarded Cardinal Miloslav Vlk with a medal of merit called the "Plaque of Honour" on Thursday. At Prague Castle, the Roman Catholic Church's most senior representative in the Czech Republic received the medal for his contribution to the development of religious life and social dialogue. Cardinal Vlk turned 75 on Thursday.

800 police officers to help guard presidential summit in Brno

Police in Moravia's capital Brno are preparing for what is expected to be one of their biggest security operations when seventeen presidents of Central and Eastern Europe meet in the city later this month. The presidential summit is scheduled for May 24-26 and will be guarded by special units as well as some 800 police officers. The deputy head of the south Moravian police, Martin Kotlan, says it is the biggest security operation since Queen Elizabeth visited Brno in 1996.

Poll: most Czechs sceptical of public finance reform plan

A new opinion poll suggests that most Czechs believe the government's public finance reform plan will worsen living standards in terms of health, education, and employment. According to the poll, conducted by the Factum Invenium agency this month, Czechs are pessimistic about life after retirement, fearing that pensions will be low and care of the elderly will be poor.

First Czech woman reaches Mount Everest summit

A 29-year-old woman from Prague has become the first Czech woman to climb Mount Everest. Klara Polackova reached the top of the world's highest mountain on Wednesday, guided by the grandson of the legendary mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, who together with Edmund Hillary, was the first to reach the summit and return safely in 1953. Ms Polackova says she is now looking forward to a shower and Czech beer and food. Mount Everest is the second mountain above 8,000 metres that she has conquered, following her earlier climb of Cho Oyu, also in the Himalayas.

Meanwhile, Prague mayor Pavel Bem, who is currently fulfilling a childhood dream to climb Mount Everest, has one last leg to go before he reaches the summit. Due to bad weather on Thursday, he has postponed the final ascent to Friday.

Remains of WWII soldiers to be exhumed in Moravia

The remains of over three dozen German WWII soldiers have been found near the Moravian town of Olomouc. The soldiers are believed to have been killed by the Red Army at the end of the Second World War. The German union for the protection and care of war graves has commissioned a company from northern Bohemia to exhume the remains.

Motorcycle sales booming

The Czech market is witnessing record sales in motorcycles. In the first four months of this year, 6,704 new motorcycles were sold - 40 percent more than last year. The boom has been attributed to the fact that prices of motorbikes have gone down making it affordable for Czechs to buy Japanese, European, and American makes.

Weather

The next few days are expected to gradually get warmer to reach 26 degrees Celsius at the weekend.