• 08/07/2004

    The first 300 professional soldiers to sign up for the Czech Army took their oath of allegiance on T.G. Masaryk Square in the Moravian town of Prerov on Friday. Among the new recruits were 85 women. Compulsory military service has been phased out in the Czech Republic and the Army will be fully professional from the beginning of next year.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 08/07/2004

    The new Czech football season got underway on Saturday afternoon, with defending champions Banik Ostrava losing 2:1 at home to Teplice. The beginning of the season came against a backdrop of bribery allegations, with 16 referees and the chairman of Viktoria Zizkov being charged with corruption on Thursday.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 08/07/2004

    Around 1,000 Polish people arrived on a special train in Jesenik on Saturday to take part in a beer festival in the north Moravian town. A local official said it was the third time guests from Poland had been invited to the festival, adding that the event could lead to an increase in cross-border co-operation.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 08/06/2004

    With the official inauguration of Karel Kuehnl as Defence Minister on Friday, the entire Cabinet of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has now assumed office. The other new ministers in the Cabinet - Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, Health Minister Milada Emmerova, Local Development Minister Jiri Paroubek, and Justice Minister Pavel Nemec - all officially assumed their posts on Thursday. Defence Minister Kuehnl replaced Miroslav Kostelka, who will now serve as an advisor to Prime Minister Gross. The other ministers in the 18-member Cabinet had served under former Prime Minsiter Vladimir Spidla.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • 08/06/2004

    The Czech Finance Ministry has ordered an audit into the system for approving European Union-related projects following the European Commission's suspension on Wednesday of some 2 billion crowns worth of payments earmarked for this country under the EU Phare programme. The European Commission suspended payments from the EU's pre-accession fund because the Czech system for approving projects did not adhere to EU rules. The international consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers will carry out the audit and is due to publish its findings in late September.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • 08/06/2004

    Just days before the beginning of the new football season, police have charged 17 people in connection with allegations of match-fixing. Sixteen referees are being questioned, along with Ivan Hornik, the director of Viktoria Zizkov football club. Czech football has been dogged by corruption allegations since May, when police arrested the director of the club Synot (now known as Slovacko) and several referees.

    Author: Brian Kenety
  • 08/05/2004

    The new Czech Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, inaugurated four new government ministers to their posts on Thursday, a day after the new cabinet was sworn in. Social Democrat Milada Emmerova has taken up the post of Health Minister and her party colleague Jiri Paroubek has replaced the chairman of the Freedom Union, Pavel Nemec, at the post of Local Development Minister. Pavel Nemec has assumed the post of Justice Minister. On Thursday, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross also inaugurated Frantisek Bublan to the post of Interior Minister, which he himself had held in the previous cabinet of the former Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla. The remaining new minister, Karel Kuehnl of the Freedom Union, is expected to assume his post of Defence Minister on Friday.

    The other ministers in the 18-member cabinet had served under Mr Spidla in the last government. The new coalition cabinet, with a majority of just one in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, faces a vote of confidence on August 24.

  • 08/05/2004

    The upper house of the Czech Parliament, the Senate, on Thursday rejected a bill stipulating that all high school students would have to pass a compulsory maths test as part of their school-leaving exams, the Czech "maturita". The bill was proposed by the lower house in June. The senators agreed on Thursday that students should be able to choose between maths and other subjects. Maths tests were compulsory for all students graduating from high schools until 1990.

  • 08/05/2004

    Sparta Prague football club are now one step away from the group stage in the Champions League, after beating APOEL of Cyprus 2:1 in the second leg of their second round qualifying tie in Prague on Wednesday night. That result gave Sparta a 4:3 win on aggregate, setting up a clash with Hungary's Ferencvaros for a place in the lucrative competition. The first leg takes place away next week.

  • 08/04/2004

    President Vaclav Klaus officially appointed the centre-left government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross on Wednesday, 39 days after the demise of the previous government led by Vladimir Spidla. Mr Gross has put together a coalition of the same three parties which were in government under his predecessor: the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union.

    The coalition, with a majority of just one in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, faces a vote of confidence on August 24.

    Mr Gross, Europe's youngest prime minister at 34, said he believed his government would survive until the next general elections in 2006, adding that two years was plenty of time to undertake serious, responsible and courageous tasks.

    The prime minister had promised fresh blood, though while eight ministers are under 40 years old, two thirds of his 18-member cabinet served under Mr Spidla in the last government.

    Author: Ian Willoughby

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