The Speaker of the North Korean Parliament Che Te-bok has met his Czech counterpart Lubomir Zaoralek in Prague to discuss potential Czech involvement in relieving tension on the Korean Peninsula. According to Mr Zaoralek, North Korean politicians believe the Czech Republic could interpret the position the North Korean government would like to hold in international dialogue more accurately than other countries. The prime ministers of South Korea and Japan have approached the Czech Republic before to ask for Czech assistance in solving the tension between North and South Korea. The Czech Foreign Ministry has taken steps towards the re-opening of the Czech embassy to Pyongyang which was closed in the early 1990s.
The Czech National Bank has said it wants inflation to remain between 2 and 4 percent from the beginning of 2006 until the adoption of the single European currency, the euro, expected at the end of the decade. The last inflation target set by the Czech National Bank in 2001 predicted a gradual fall in inflation from 3-to-5 percent in 2002 to 2- to-4 percent at the end of 2005. The Czech National Bank has been setting inflation targets since 1998.
Two Czech men have been charged with illegally importing over three hundred tonnes of plastic explosives into the Czech Republic. The explosives came from the arsenal of a foreign army and had not been properly marked as plastic explosives, the police said on Wednesday. They refused to confirm reports the explosives originated in Sweden. If convicted the two suspects could face up to ten years in prison.
The European Parliament has expressed concern over alleged trafficking in human beings, especially children, at the Czech-German border and called on the Czech government to support aid programmes targeted at the victims. At the same time the EU body admitted it had no hard evidence of the existence of child prostitution in the Czech Republic. In its report on Thursday on the state of preparedness for EU membership of the ten countries about to join the EU, the European Parliament gave the Czech Republic good marks overall, but beside the alleged problem of child prostitution, MEPs also voiced disquiet at the European Commission's finding that the Czech Republic is not yet able to adopt EU standards in food-processing and urged immediate action so as not to endanger European consumers.
Former finance minister Ivo Svoboda has been sentenced to five years in prison for fraud while he was an executive at a pram-making company which subsequently collapsed. His co-defendant Barbora Snopkova was given a five-and-a-half-year sentence by the Central Bohemian Regional Court on Wednesday. Mr Svoboda served as finance minister from March 1997 to April 1999 in the minority Social Democrat government led by Milos Zeman.
Schools around the Czech Republic held a minute's silence on Wednesday in honour of teacher Bohuslav Sibl, who was stabbed to death by a 16-year-old pupil in the east Bohemian town of Svitavy last week. The classroom killing was the first of its kind in this country, and has provoked a widespread debate about young people and violence.
After long and difficult negotiations the government on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at thoroughly reforming the Czech Republic's education system. Among other things, the bill envisages more importance being placed on the creative use of information by school pupils and less emphasis on rote-learning. Furthermore, the current "maturita" school-leaving exams would be replaced from 2008. The government bill is expected to raise some debate when it goes before Parliament.
President Vaclav Klaus has expressed his support for the mission to send Czech Special Forces troops to Afghanistan. The president made the statement on Tuesday after speaking with the commander of the Army's General Staff Pavel Stefka and Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka. With regards to Afghanistan Mr Klaus said he had been given detailed plans on the mission including information on special tasks. The Afghanistan mission, already approved by Parliament, will see more than 100 elite soldiers from Czech Special Forces sent to the combat zone to help weed out remaining Taliban and Al Qaeda forces, as part of the U.S.-led operation 'Enduring Freedom'. At the same time a recent CVVM poll revealed that some 75 percent of Czechs disagreed with the soldiers being sent abroad.
The heads of government of the Visegrad group states - the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary met in Prague on Monday to discuss EU related issues. The four EU candidates have consulted each other regularly in the course of EU accession even on matters where it was not possible to adopt a common strategy. The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, who hosted the meeting at Kolodej Chateau, said cooperation within the Visegrad group would prove useful even after EU accession when the newcomers could help each other to find their place on the common market. Among the issues discussed in Prague was the EU's restrictive labour market policy with regard to the newcomers.
Amid rising uncertainty about the stability of the ruling coalition, the deputy chairman of the opposition Communist Party, Jiri Dolejs, has said that, under certain conditions, the Communists would be willing to support a minority Social Democrat government. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Mr Dolejs said that if the Social Democrats behaved as a left-wing party, the Communists would grant them tacit support. The Communist Party and the Social Democrats would have 111 seats in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies.