News

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Bush to visit Prague in June

The office of the government has confirmed that the US President George W. Bush will pay a brief visit to the Czech Republic in June. The main topic for discussion will be the US plan to build a radar base in the Czech Republic as part of a broader US missile defence shield. According to Thursday's edition of Hospodarske noviny, Mr Bush will arrive in Prague on June 5th, a day before heading to Germany for a G8 summit.

Obering to discuss radar also with Czech MPs on Monday

The head of the US Missile Defense Agency, Henry Obering, is expected to discuss the possible stationing of a US radar base in the Czech Republic with Czech deputies and senators in Prague on Monday. According to lower house defence committee chairman, Jan Vidim, Mr Obering wants to discuss the issue with Czech lawmakers before meeting the Czech National Security Council members later on Monday. The Czech Republic officially launched negotiations with the United States about the radar base in late March. A definitive decision on the project is up to parliament where its supporters do not have a clear majority. The radar construction is opposed by most Social Democrat lawmakers and by the opposition Communists. This week, a delegation of Czech MPs visited the Marshall Islands to see the local missile defence radar that would possibly be transferred to the Czech Republic.

US consults allies on missile plans ahead of NATO-Russia talks

The United States consulted NATO allies on Thursday on plans for its missile shield in Europe before fielding complaints from Russia, which is wary about Washington's intentions. Deputy foreign minister Tomas Pojar and deputy defence minister Martin Bartak took part in the talks on behalf of the Czech Republic. The meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels are the highest-level talks so far on the US shield, to include 10 missile interceptors in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic linked to an advance warning system in the Caucasus. The United States says the system is aimed at protecting its territory, but also many NATO allies, from missile attack by a "rogue state" like Iran.

Cunek explains his statements to Government Council for Roma Affairs

Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Democrat Chairman Jiri Cunek met with representatives of the Government Council for Roma Affairs on Thursday to explain his recent comments regarding the Roma community and present his suggestions concerning a planned government Roma policy. The council has not issued any recommendation for the government as to how to proceed in Mr Cunek's case. The meeting was called last week by the cabinet minister responsible for minorities and human rights, Dzamila Stehlikova, after Romany organisations staged a protest outside the cabinet headquarters calling for Mr Cunek to leave the government.

In a recent interview for the tabloid Blesk, Mr Cunek said that in order to be entitled to state subsidies like Romanies, other people would need to get a suntan, behave in a disorderly way and light fires on town squares before politicians would regard them as badly off.

Census: 2000 homeless live in Prague

A new official census of homeless people living in the Czech capital suggests that there are around 2000 people without a permanent home in Prague. Around a thousand of them sleep rough, the other half use the services of shelters run by various charities. The new census was carried out by local town halls in individual Prague districts. A broad census conducted three years ago by humanitarian organisations suggested that there were around 3,000 homeless people in Prague, with some estimates putting the figure even higher at 6,000.

Austrian anti-nuclear activists to blockade 10 border crossings next week

Austrian opponents of the Temelin nuclear power plant say they are planning to blockade 10 Czech-Austrian border crossings next Friday. The organisation Atomstopp Oberoesterreich has announced that unless the Austrian government decides to take legal action against the Czech Republic over alleged breach of agreements on Temelin on Wednesday, they will begin blockades at 10 out of 16 border crossings between the two countries on April 27. Most recently, the Austrian activists staged protests last week at seven border crossings.

Senate elects members of Czech-Austrian parliamentary group for Temelin

The Czech Senate has approved the establishment of a joint Czech-Austrian parliamentary group which would supervise the safety situation at the South Bohemian Temelin nuclear power plant. At the same time, the chamber elected three members of the group: two Civic Democrat Senators and one Senator for the Green Party. An upcoming session of the lower house should produce another ten members from among the MPs. According to Senate Chairman Premysl Sobotka, the group should help calm down the situation regarding the Temelin plant, including frequent protests and blockades at border crossings.

Senate approves right to information on health status for patients

The Senate has approved an amendment to the health care law giving patients the right to view and copy their medical records. Under the legislation, people should also have the possibility to pass this right onto their next of kin. Unless individuals wish otherwise, in cases of their death family members would be entitled to information about the cause of death and results of an autopsy. To become law, the amendment has yet to be signed be the President.

Czech MEP Zelezny not to apologise to MEP Bobosikova

The Prague City Court has ruled that Czech MEP Vladimir Zelezny does not have to apologise to MEP Jana Bobosikova, his former party colleague, for statements he made about her a few years ago. In a libel suit, Mrs Bobosikova demanded that her former boss from the commercial television station Nova apologise for untrue statements he allegedly spread about her in the media. Mrs Bobosikova and Mr Zelezny were elected to the European Parliament for the Independents movement. However, briefly after they were elected, they fell out. Mrs Bobosikova said soon after her election that she would not support the Independents due to Mr Zelezny's growing influence in the movement. Mr Zelezny said that Mrs Bobosikova had betrayed the movement. He also criticised her for having hired her husband as her assistant.

Jagr's Rangers sweep Atlanta

The New York Rangers - with star forward Jaromir Jagr - have become the first NHL team in this year's postseason to advance to the second round of the NHL playoffs. The Rangers defeated Atlanta 4:2 on Wednesday night, completing a four-game sweep. Jagr as well as fellow Czech Michal Rozsival contributed with a goal apiece on the night while Martin Straka tallied one assist. The last time the Rangers won a playoff series was in 1997.

Weather

The coming days should be partly cloudy with daytime temperatures reaching highs of 15 degrees Celsius.