Defence Minister Karel Kuhnl has said the next Czech Army contingent sent to Kosovo will be better trained and equipped to deal with ethnic tensions in the province. Mr Kuhnl, on a visit to a Czech base in Pristina, said the troops being sent there next month would be ready for the kind of violence that left dozens dead after clashes between Kosovo Albanians and Serbs earlier this year.
Former Czech prime minister Vladimir Spidla is finally taking up his post as European commissioner for labour and social affairs on Monday, after a delay of three weeks caused by a standoff with EU lawmakers over the makeup of the Commission. Mr Spidla replaces Pavel Telicka, who was appointed the Czech Republic's first commissioner after the country joined the EU in May.
Zdenek Skromach on Saturday outlined his policies to a meeting of the ruling Social Democrats in Brno, a few days after he announced he would stand against acting chairman Stanislav Gross for the leadership of the party. Mr Skromach is expected to dissolve the present coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union if he wins the post at a party conference in April. Mr Skromach is supported by former Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman, who is critical of Mr Gross.
The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, has said he is "one hundred percent against" the proposed European Constitution, saying it created a new legal, constitutional and political "European state". Speaking at a conference in Berlin on Saturday, Mr Klaus said the constitution would lead to a loss of national identity, sovereignty and political independence. It was one of the strongest statements yet from the president, who has been a frequent critic of European integration.
Czech ice hockey megastar Jaromir Jagr has got off to a losing start at his new club Omsk, after the Russian league team were beaten 2:1 by Khimik Voskresensk on Friday. Jagr, playing in Europe because of an NHL lockout, recently attracted large crowds in the Czech Republic when he appeared at the club at which he started his career, Kladno.
The Czech Republic's state-run utility company CEZ signed a contract with the Bulgarian government for the privatisation of the electricity distribution network in the capital Sofia and two other regions of the country. Under terms agreed in July, CEZ will pay 281.5 million euros for a 67-percent stake in the electricity distributor. The company has agreed not to resell or restructure any of its shares until the end of 2008.
The Czech Republic may assist in the creation of a future urban plan of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said after a meeting with Baghdad's regional governor Ali Haidari. Mr Svoboda said the project was ready and it was now up the Iraqi authorities to choose between a Czech and Japanese project. Minister Svoboda pointed out that the entire realisation of the project was connected to the reinforcement of the security situation.
The deputy head of the Social Democrats Zdenek Skromach has announced he will challenge the acting head of the party, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, for the chairmanship of the Social Democrats at the party's congress next March. The heads of the party's regional branches have welcomed the announcement of Mr Skromach's candidacy, but some of them said they supported Stanislav Gross. According to the daily Lidove noviny, Mr Skromach's bid is being backed by the former prime minister, now retired politician Milos Zeman. The daily also writes that if elected chairman, Mr Skromach would aim for a minority government with support across the political spectrum, including the Communist Party. Mr Skromach is expected to unveil further plans on his bid this weekend.