The Czech Anti-monopoly Office has fined the country's three mobile phone operators a total of 44 million crowns (almost 1.5 million euros) for cartel agreements. A spokesman for the Office said Thursday the operators had signed illegal agreements on direct network interconnection without using a third operator.
On Thursday the president also met all the Czech athletes who won medals at the recent Olympic Games in Athens. Mr Klaus thanked them for representing the country in an exemplary manner, and wished them continued success in the future. The Czech Republic took one gold, three silver and four bronze medals in Athens.
An Australian bookmaker, reportedly the first taking bets on the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, has said former Czech president Vaclav Havel is its favourite to win. Bookies Centrebet are giving 4-1 odds on Mr Havel being awarded the prestigious prize, though he has often been named as a potential winner in the past.
The three parties in the governing coalition have reached agreement on the framework for next year's budget. At a meeting on Thursday morning party leaders agreed to cut the proposed budget deficit from 93 to 84 billion crowns. The original figure was above the limit set by the European Commission in its convergence programme. The cut is expected to hit social benefits.
Sparta Prague lost their first game in this season's Champions League away to Fenerbahce on Wednesday night. Sparta, who were without experienced midfielder Karel Poborsky, were beaten 1:0 by the Turkish club. Elsewhere in the competition, Pavel Nedved scored for Juventus before leaving the field injured, and Milan Baros got a goal for his club Liverpool.
Four more Iraqi children with serious heart defects are to arrive in Prague to undergo operations at the city's Bulovka teaching hospital next week. The children have been selected by Czech doctors working at a British field hospital in Basra. Some 20 Iraqi children have already undergone heart surgery in the Czech capital.
Czech troops may work with a German military team to help prepare infrastructure and security in Northern Afghanistan for October's presidential election, German Defence Minister Peter Struck said on Wednesday. The Czech Republic is prepared to make 40 soldiers available in the near future. The German-run unit, based in the town of Faizabad, is the second so-called "provincial reconstruction" team. It is currently staffed by 30 German soldiers and is to include a total of 85 troops. Berlin has so far failed to bring other countries, notably the Netherlands, on board. In a related development, the Czech defence ministry said that 100 Czech soldiers, most of them special forces troops, serving in Afghanistan would be repatriated this month after ending a six months tour of duty.
The United States will consider ways of simplifying the procedure of visa applications for Czech citizens. US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said during talks in Prague on Wednesday that Washington was aware of the complications surrounding the process of visa applications for Czech citizens and would do its best to simplify matters as far as possible. He said that lifting visa regulations for Czech citizens was not on the agenda at present and that a certain degree of security would need to be maintained in view of the existing anti-terrorist measures. A US envoy is to visit Prague later this month to discuss the matter with Czech officials. Prague had been hoping for a reciprocal arrangement, since American citizens do not need visas to enter the Czech Republic.
The Czech government has agreed to extend the mission of its military police officers deployed in Iraq by two months. According to the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda the extended period - from January till the end of February - is related to security concerns over elections due to be held in Iraq at the start of the year. Washington has said it expects an increase of violence ahead of the elections. The Czech military police contingent is deployed near the town of Basra in southern Iraq where it has helped to train hundreds of Iraqi police officers since December of 2003.