• 06/06/2007

    Former Czech President Vaclav Havel has criticised what he described as the EU's strangely diplomatic approach to Cuba. Speaking at a conference of pro-democracy activists in Berlin, Mr Havel said EU countries tended to appease the Castro regime by not inviting dissidents to events at their embassies in Havana. He also implied that the European Union should try and catch up with the United States in terms of it support for human rights in addition to competing with America economically.

    Author: Coilin O'Connor
  • 06/06/2007

    The Zlin region was badly affected by torrential rain on Wednesday, which has damaged homes and disrupted traffic in the region. The worst affected area is in the Uherske Hradiste district, where emergency services had to answer several calls to deal with blocked sewerage pipes. An underpass near the town hospital was also inundated, leaving several cars stranded.

    Earlier in Zlin's Prstne district, emergency services spent much of Tuesday evening clearing flood damage after the dike of a nearby pond broke. A fire department spokesperson said that the devastation was immense as the area been suddenly hit by a strong wave. Several houses were flooded and some roads were also damaged. The dike was recently repaired but burst due to high water pressure caused by heavy rain.

    Author: Coilin O'Connor
  • 06/06/2007

    Last May, there were 547 people aged 100 years or more in the Czech Republic, according to information from the Czech Social Security Administration (CSSZ). The CSSZ announced on Wednesday that 458 women and 89 men had identity documents proving they had been born in 1907 or earlier. The number of centenarians is steadily growing in the Czech Republic. Last November, there were 404 of them, while there were only 354 in November 2005. The Czech Republic has a population of around 10 million. The oldest Czech person is currently Marie Kraslova from South Bohemia who was 108 last November. Czech population experts predict that modern healthcare and improved living standards should see the number of centenarians living in the country rise to almost 19,000 within 60 years.

    Author: Coilin O'Connor
  • 06/06/2007

    Czech authorities say they have not received any request from the American actress Angelina Jolie to adopt a child from the Czech Republic. Earlier, Britain's The Sun newspaper had claimed that Ms Jolie and her partner Brad Pitt were going to adopt a Czech boy from a Catholic orphanage in Prague, which they had been visiting while shooting a movie in the city. Angelina Jolie has already adopted children from Cambodia, Ethiopia and Japan.

    Author: Coilin O'Connor
  • 06/05/2007

    US President George W. Bush criticized Russia and China on democracy at an international conference in Prague on Tuesday. Speaking to democracy and human rights activists at the conference named "Democracy and Security: Core Values and Sound Policies, he said that the "reforms in Russia that once promised to empower citizens have been derailed with troubling implications for democratic development". In China, the US President said, "leaders believe that they can continue to open the nation's economy without also opening its political system".

    US President George W. Bush arrived in Prague for a one-day visit on Monday evening. He left for Germany on Tuesday evening, where he is scheduled to attend is the G8 summit and meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday.

    Author: Dita Asiedu
  • 06/05/2007

    On Tuesday morning, the US President met with his Czech counterpart Vaclav Klaus and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek. Speaking to journalists after the meeting at Prague Castle, Mr Bush said a US plan to build part of its missile defence shield in the Czech Republic and Poland is a "purely defensive" measure. He stressed that the defence shield is not aimed at Russia and that his message to Russian President Vladimir Putin would be not to fear the missile defence system but rather cooperate with Washington and send generals and scientists over to see how such a system would work.

    Mr Bush was reacting to warnings from President Vladimir Putin on Sunday that if the American nuclear capability widens across European territory then Russia would give itself new targets in Europe. Mr. Putin acknowledged that Russia's response risked starting an arms race, but he said Moscow would not be responsible for the consequences because Washington had started it.

    Author: Dita Asiedu
  • 06/05/2007

    At Prague Castle, US President Bush also discussed Washington's visa policy and pledged to work with Congress to waive the visa requirement for Czechs. While US citizens do not need a visa to visit the Czech Republic, the visa-free policy is not reciprocal. Following the meeting with Mr Bush, Prime Minister Topolanek told journalists that the visa requirement is unjust and should be abolished.

    Author: Dita Asiedu
  • 06/05/2007

    Besides the Czech head of state and leader of the government, Social Democrat opposition leader Jiri Paroubek also had the chance to discuss foreign policy issues with the US President. According to Mr. Paroubek, the plan to station a radar base in the Czech Republic is the only issue that the two politicians disagree on.

    Author: Dita Asiedu
  • 06/05/2007

    Emergency workers and fire fighters in the Prstne district of the Moravian town of Zlin are busy clearing flood damage after the dike of a nearby pond broke. A fire fighter spokesperson has reported that the devastation is immense as the area was suddenly hit by a strong wave. Several houses are flooded and some roads are also damaged. The dike was recently repaired but burst due to high water pressure caused by repeated rain.

    Author: Dita Asiedu
  • 06/05/2007

    Ivo Velisek, head of Prague Castle Administration, collaborated with the former communist secret police, the daily Pravo writes in its Tuesday edition. The paper says it has 1980s archive documents in which Mr Velisek is registered in the category of "confidential aides" with the cover name Obchodnik (Businessman). Mr Velisek allegedly reported on people from his surroundings, including Charter 77 signatories and the communist secret police assessed the two-year cooperation with him as "useful". Pravo writes that after 1989 Mr Velisek submitted a negative screening certificate and passed a security vetting that enabled him to take up his current post.

    Author: Dita Asiedu

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