Prime Minister Paroubek meets German counterpart Chancellor Merkel

Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek visited Berlin on Tuesday for talks on bilateral relations and EU matters with Germany's new Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two politicians say their countries enjoy excellent relations. Mrs Merkel welcomed the British attempt to solve the EU budget crisis, but said serious talks will have to be held with the newer member states to come to a compromise over the proposed budget cuts. Chancellor Merkel also reiterated that any restitution claims made by Sudeten German individuals would not be backed by the new German coalition government.

President Klaus calls British EU budget proposal unjust

Meanwhile, the Czech President Vaclav Klaus heavily criticised the British EU budget proposal during a visit to the east Bohemian town of Pardubice on Tuesday. While he has no objections to an overall reduction of the budget, the current proposal was drawn up to the detriment of the new member states and is therefore unjust, he said.

Parliament to vote on deputy's immunity

Parliament is to decide whether a lower house deputy from the right-of-centre opposition Civic Democratic Party is to be stripped of his immunity. Czech media reports say the Czech police have recordings of Vladimir Dolezal asking for bribes from entrepreneurs in return for a guarantee that they would get the green light to do business in the Prague 10 district. Mr Dolezal is accused of asking for bribes amounting to 800,000 crowns (a little under 33,000 US dollars). He has rejected all claims.

Lower House approves Bulgaria and Romania's accession to EU

The lower house of Parliament has agreed to support the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union. This is the first time that the Czech Parliament voted on EU enlargement since the Czech Republic joined the Union in May 2004. The earliest possible date when Bulgaria and Romania could join the European Union is January 1 2007. None of the deputies present voted against the two countries' accession; one deputy abstained from the vote.

Former Komercni Banka board of directors acquitted of fraud charges

A court has ruled that nine former members of the board of directors of the Komercni Banka bank are not guilty of fraud. They were accused of helping Austria's BCL Trading (owned by entrepreneur Barak Alon) defraud the bank of eight billion crowns (a little under 330 million US dollars). Komercni Banka is one of the Czech Republic's biggest banks.

British tourist injured by Christmas tree sues for damages

A British tourist, who was seriously injured by a 25-metre Christmas tree, which snapped at its base and crushed to the ground on Prague's Old Town square two years ago, is suing for compensation. Malcolm Tuffin suffered fractures to both femurs and the spine. Blaming the Prague City Council and the company that operated the Christmas market for the accident, his lawyer lodged a court claim for 1.5 million crowns (over 61,000 US dollars) in damages on Tuesday.

Weather forecast

The next few days will have overcast skies with occasional snow around the country. Day-time temperatures are expected to hover around zero degrees Celsius.