News

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EU summit sets date for Schengen enlargement

The enlargement of the Schengen border-free zone to the EU newcomer states, including the Czech Republic, has been set for December 31 2007. The decision was made at a summit of EU interior and justice ministers in Brussels on Tuesday following months of controversy over a proposed delay of more than a year. The compromise solution approved on Tuesday was put forward by Portugal and would mean a delay of only a few months. The Czech Republic was one of the countries which fought hard against the proposal delay and Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer praised the outcome of the summit, describing it as "a historic decision". The original expansion date cannot be met due to technical difficulties involving the process of setting up a new police data base for the expanded region.

Austrian descendant of Archduke Franz Ferdinand stakes claim to Czech estates

The great granddaughter of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination sparked World War I, has launched a legal claim for the return of her family's possessions in what is now the Czech Republic, the Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. Princess Sophie of Hohenberg wants Konopiste Castle, one of her great grandfather's favourite estates, returned and has lodged an action through her lawyer at the local Benesov court. Konopiste Castle, located around 30 kilometers from Prague, includes 6,000 hectares of land and its own brewery. The castle is now in state hands.

Serial hospital killer says he wanted to test doctors

A Czech serial killer who has confessed to murdering seven patients in a Czech hospital says he wanted to test doctors' skills. The thirty year old male nurse, who injected 17 patients with excessive doses of a blood-thinning drug over a period of six months has told the police he wanted to see if doctors were able to detect the problem. The head physician in the hospital where the killings occurred called an investigation when it recorded a higher than usual death-rate as a result of unexplained internal hemorrhaging. The hospital's director Josef Pejchl was dismissed on Tuesday.

Government talks continue

The Social Democratic Party leadership is meeting to decide whether the party should negotiate a place in the country's future coalition government or remain in the opposition. Outlooks for a rainbow coalition of four parliamentary parties have dimmed in recent days as an increasing number of Social but also Civic Democrats have spoken out against it. The Civic Democratic Party has openly stated it would prefer a three party deal with the Christian Democrats and the Greens and would then seek support for a confidence vote among individual Social Democratic Party deputies.

Czech public budget deficit to reach 4.1 pct of GDP in 2007

The Czech Republic's public budget deficit will be equal to 4.1 percent of GDP next year, the European Commission says in a report assessing the progress of individual countries on their path to the euro single currency. To be able to join the euro, the country's public budget deficit must be reduced to below 3 percent of GDP.

Conference on Iraq postponed

A planned conference on Iraq which sparked controversy among Czech lower house deputies has been postponed and will not be taking place on the grounds of the lower house as planned. The conference sparked controversy after Czech public television aired a report claiming that it would be attended by supporters of the toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The organizers say this is nonsense and have filed charges of scaremongering against Czech television.

Weather

The next few days are expected to be overcast with scattered showers and day temperatures reaching 10 degrees Celsius.