Eight Cuban dissidents and former political prisoners arrived in Prague on Sunday to meet politicians and other Czech personalities supporting human rights around the world. The Cubans will meet with former Czech president and dissident Vaclav Havel, Senate Chairman Petr Pithart, members of the Czech Parliament, and had lunch with Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Vosalik. According to Mr Vosalik, the Czech Republic is willing to finance a campaign that would promote democracy in Cuba from the foreign ministry budget meant for international help. After a meeting with the Chairman of the main opposition Civic Democrats, Miroslav Topolanek, the group was assured that the Czech Republic would continue to support its cause, even if a new government headed by the right-of-centre Civic Democrats was formed. Among the dissidents are three former political prisoners. They were invited to Prague by the Czech humanitarian organisation People in Need, which has been supporting human rights activists fighting against the totalitarian Castro regime in Cuba.
World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Lee Jong-Wook, has arrived in Prague for a two-day trip to the Czech Republic. Mr Lee Jong-Wook, who is from the Republic of Korea, met with the recently appointed Czech Health Minister Jozef Kubinyi shortly after his arrival to discuss the state of the Czech health sector and exchange ideas for a suitable national health policy plan. After visiting a TBC unit in Prague, he stated that the Czech Republic had done well to fight tuberculosis and could play a major role in helping neighbouring countries that are worse off combat the disease. Mr Lee Jong-Wook is yet to visit the Czech Parliament, hold talks with the chair of parliament's health committee, as well as meet former Czech president Vaclav Havel.
The Czech Republic's state budget deficit grew to 38.1 billion Czech crowns from 7.82 billion in March. At the same time last year, it had a deficit of 64.4 billion crowns, the Finance Ministry announced on Monday. The widening of the deficit in April was mainly due to a state contribution to building societies which amounted to 14.8 billion crowns. The ministry expects the full-year deficit to reach some 115 billion crowns.
Eight Cuban dissidents and former political prisoners arrived in Prague on Sunday to meet politicians and other Czech personalities supporting human rights around the world. The Cubans will meet with former Czech president and dissident Vaclav Havel, Deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Vosalik, Senate Chairman Petr Pithart and members of the Czech Parliament. They were invited to Prague by the Czech humanitarian organisation People in Need, which has been supporting human rights activists fighting against the totalitarian Castro regime in Cuba. The dissidents, who now live in the United States, are expected to stay in the Czech capital until Saturday.
The week-end celebrations commemorating the famous Czech composer Antonin
Dvorak on the one hundredth anniversary of his death culminated on Sunday
with a series of concerts in Prague. At five different venues, four of
Prague's best orchestras and a number of soloists pay homage to Antonin
Dvorak, who died on May 1, 1904, at the age of 62 years.
An exhibition in Prague's Rudolfinum Gallery also celebrates the life and works of the Czech composer, giving visitors the one-time opportunity to view the original score of Dvorak's New World Symphony on Sunday. The manuscript is usually stored in a safe. Dvorak, whose music has reached many, partly thanks to his incorporation of folk music into his works, wrote his "New World Symphony" (Symphony No. 9: From the New World) in the United States. Many classical music lovers argue it is his most recognizable work.
Prague's Municipal House also opened an exhibition on Sunday called the Sacred Works of Antonin Dvorak, featuring him as a Christian and the author of spiritual works. The exhibition is part of the "Tribute to Antonín Dvo"ák 2004" project and was launched by a concert featuring his Stabat Mater called "Dvo"ák Spiritual", which will be held in Smetana Hall. Among the main exhibits are several restored original music scores, both handwritten sketches and finalized versions. Other exhibits include the first editions of some of Dvo"ák's works published by Simrock in Berlin and Novello in London, examples of his correspondence, reviews, period photographs and pieces of art illustrating the spiritual climate of the period. The exhibition is under the patronage of Catholic Church Primate and Prague Archbishop, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk.
The world-famous Gypsy Kings hold a concert at Prague's T-Mobile arena on Sunday, as the last band to perform at the United Islands of Prague music festival. The four-day festival began on Thursday and saw 130 bands from 19 countries perform at ten islands and various other venues in Prague. Visitors were able to enjoy folk, rock, blues, jazz, techno, and world music. Participating artists included Finland's Leningrad Cowboys, Britain's Levellers, and Spain's world music performer Mercedes Peon. With the exception of the Gypsy Kings concerts, tickets to all activities cost a symbolic 1 Euro, or 33 Czech crowns, in celebration of EU enlargement.
Several hundred anarchists and right-wing extremists marched through Prague on Saturday in protest at the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union. The far right protesters called for a boycott of the European Parliament elections and the resignation of the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla. The two groups of protesters clashed briefly in the centre of Prague but police managed to separate them.
A bomb threat led the authorities to close two border crossings between Germany and the Czech Republic on Friday, just hours before the historic enlargement of the European Union. For four hours police with sniffer dogs combed two crossings near the town of Rozvadov without finding anything suspicious. The closure resulted in long cues on both sides of the border. Police are investigating the bomb threat. Meanwhile, security is tight at the German border town of Zittau, where German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller are due to attend the festivities on Saturday.
The Czech Republic is celebrating its entry to the European Union. Open air parties have been taking place across the country and thousands of people turned up to see a magnificent fireworks display on Prague's Letna Plain at midnight when the Czech Republic and nine other countries officially joined the EU. The biggest expansion in the EU's history will swell its ranks to 25 nations and its population to 450 million people.
On the EU enlargement day, the Czech Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla,
and his Polish and German counterparts, Leszek Miller and Gerhard
Schroeder joined the celebrations in the border district of Trojzemi, a
place where their three countries meet. From Trojzemi, Ian Willoughby
"The Czech Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla, and his Polish and German counterparts, Leszek Miller and Gerhard Schroeder have appeared together at a grand ceremony at the exact point where their three countries meet. On this historic day of the European Union enlargement, the three leaders along with the EU enlargement commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, delivered speeches at noon in front of many thousands of people from the border region and the assembled international media.
"The Czech Prime Minister was the last of the four to speak, describing EU enlargement as the definitive overcoming of the results of WWII. He rejected the division of the continent into "Old" and "New" Europe, saying the only "Old" Europe was a Europe which went to war against itself. As for the future, the Czech Prime Minister said a lot had been achieved and a lot remained to be done, though it could be done better in united Europe, working together."