President describes November 17th, 1989 as "key moment" in Czech history
President Vaclav Klaus as well as the prime minister and other public figures have marked the 16th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. 16 years ago this day an attack by riot police against demonstrating students on Prague's Narodni trida sparked mass protests that led to the fall of Czechoslovakia's communist regime. Speaking with journalists on Thursday President Klaus described November 17th, 1989 as a "key moment in Czech history", saying those who had experienced the events that followed "experienced the birth of freedom".
Accompanied by Prague Lord Mayor Pavel Bem, and Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka, Mr Klaus laid flowers at the site where students on Narodni trida were attacked. A little later in the day the site was also visited by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek.
Pakistan expresses gratitude for Czech aid
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Mian Khurshid Mahmud has thanked the Czech Republic for humanitarian aid sent to help Pakistan with recovery from a devastating earthquake in October. Mr Mahmud made his statement in Islamabad during a visit by his Czech counterpart Cyril Svoboda. Originally, the Czech Republic donated aid worth 110 million crowns, the equivalent of roughly 4.3 million US dollars. During the two men's meeting Mr Svoboda also met - unexpectedly - with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, in Pakistan for a conference related to the effects of the earthquake; on October 8th some 80, 000 died as a result. Hundreds of thousands of others are said to still be in need.
European Commission forecasts Czech Rep economy will remain strong despite slight slowing down in growth
In its latest economic forecast the European Commission has rated as strong the Czech Republic's economic growth, 4.8 percent this year. According to the forecast the Czech economy will remain strong in the years 2006 and 2007, but growth will decelerate somewhat - to a predicted 4.3 percent by 2007. According to the commission, growth until now has been spurred by vigorous exports.
Musician, architect, prevented from hanging EU flag
Well-known Czech musician Michal Kocab, together with architect Borek Sipek, were prevented from trying to hang a European Union flag at one of the courtyards at Prague Castle on Thursday, after hinting they might take just such a step in October. The move was blocked on Thursday by a member of the Prague Castle guard. Previously, Mr Kocab and Mr Sipek - architect to former president Vaclav Havel - expressed dissatisfaction with the current president's refusal to fly the flag. The EU flag can be flown together with the national flag at official sites including the seat of government, the Foreign Ministry, as well as the office of the president. Mr Klaus has declined the option so far.
His predecessor Vaclav Havel criticised Mr Klaus' decision on Thursday as "just short of scandalous".
Rosicky - on painkillers - helps Czechs through
Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky, who scored the Czechs lone goal against Norway on Wednesday to secure the national side's first appearance at the football World Cup since 1990, reportedly played on painkillers. He had been doubtful with injuries to his knee and ankle. In the end, the player opened the scoring in the 35th minute at Prague's Sparta stadium, leading the Czechs to win the final play-off against Norway 2 goals to nil on aggregate. Rosicky has described his goal as the "most important of his career".
Mostly cloudy conditions are expected leading into the weekend, with daytime temperatures hovering at just 2 degrees Celsius.