Czech students have launched a week of public protests demanding more funds for the education sector. They argue that under the given conditions the quality of education in the Czech Republic will suffer a serious setback. The lack of funds is already said to be affecting the state of school laboratories, school books and staff. While the majority of EU member states devote an average 1,5 percent of GDP to the education sector, the Czech government has released only O, 7 percent of the country's GDP. The planned protests include marches, public debates and happenings.
Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has begun an official two day visit to Finland. He is scheduled to meet with the Finnish President Tarja Halonen, members of Cabinet and the country's business leaders. On Tuesday the Czech Prime Minister is expected to present a lecture on what the Czech Republic expects of EU membership.
The South Bohemian Border Police have decided to have more guards along the Czech-Austrian border, in reaction to the increasing number of foreigners attempting to migrate to Austria. A border police spokesperson said on Monday that ever more Chechens and Georgian nationals, sometimes entire families, apply for asylum in the Czech Republic, only to cross the country's border into western European states.
The country's civil servants may go on strike to protest against Sunday's Cabinet decision to give them only limited end of year bonuses, in line with the government's fiscal reform plan. Despite protests from trade unions the Cabinet agreed to pay the country's 450,000 civil servants only 10 percent of their so-called 13th monthly salaries, a special end of year bonus which was guaranteed by law in the past. Civil servants say their annual incomes will drop significantly without this supplement to their wages and have threatened to launch various protest actions. At a meeting of trade union representatives on Monday, trade union leaders agreed to call onto all union members and civil servants to go on a one-hour strike after the Easter holiday.
The Czech government is meeting late on Sunday to decide whether or not to grant civil servants so called 13th and 14th salaries, special end of year bonuses which were guaranteed by law in the past. A meeting between Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and trade union leaders produced no tangible result. Union leaders said Mr. Spidla had listened to their arguments but made no promises. Civil servants say their annual incomes would drop significantly without this supplement and have threatened various protest actions if the Cabinet fails to find the extra money. Trade unions believe the outlooks are not good since most ministers support the payment of only symbolic end of year bonuses amounting to 10 percent of the monthly wage.
Speaking at the close of a two day conference on Czech-German relations, President Vaclav Klaus called on the two nations to reconcile with the past and look to the future. Mr. Klaus said that although no nation could afford to bury its history, it was vital to accept what could not be changed. He reminded both nations that in the long history of Czech German relations there had been more good than bad. The times of cooperation were longer than the times of adversity, the Czech president said, adding that it was the Germans who came in peace who had made the deepest mark on life and developments in the Czech Republic. In the interest of EU enlargement and our common future in Europe we should build on what was positive, the Czech president concluded.
The Czech government is to decide this weekend whether or not to grant civil servants so called 13th and 14th salaries, special end of year bonuses which were guaranteed by law in the past. A meeting between Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and trade union leaders produced no tangible result on Friday night. Union leaders said Mr. Spidla had listened to their arguments but made no promises. Civil servants say their annual incomes would drop significantly without this supplement and have threatened various protest actions if the Cabinet fails to find the extra money. The Cabinet is to debate the issue at a special session on Sunday. Trade unions believe the outlooks are not good since most ministers support the payment of only symbolic end of year bonuses amounting to 10 percent of the monthly wage.
The first group of Czech reconnaissance troops who are to take part in the US led operation Enduring Freedom have arrived in Afghanistan. Few details have been made available to the press since the operation is veiled in secrecy but the Czech Defence Ministry spokesman Ladislav Sticha has confirmed that part of the special forces have reached their destination and are fulfilling their set tasks. The first combat forces deployed by the Czech military since World War II are taking part in the US led operation Enduring Freedom, combing the Afghan mountains for members of the terrorist organization Al Qaida.
Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Stanislav Gross has rejected claims that Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka plans to resign. Mr Gross said that the Social Democrat defence minister assured him on Thursday he would continue to lead the Army's ongoing reform process. Mr Gross reacted to a Czech Radio report, which said that various sources claimed Mr Kostelka was unhappy with the divided coalition government and would rather accept a diplomatic post than be a government minister.
A plane carrying Czech President Vaclav Klaus was forced to turn back to its departure point of Lisbon on Thursday after a mechanical problem with the landing gear, Mr Klaus's office said. The president was flying on a Czech government plane from the Portuguese capital to the city of Oporto when the problem was detected shortly after takeoff. The plane turned back immediately and landed without incident. No injuries were reported. The CTK news agency reported that Mr Klaus said he never felt in danger during the incident.