The head of European Parliament Pat Cox -in Prague on Monday -indicated he would be willing to run for the post of president of the European Commission. Speaking in Prague, Mr Cox added however, he did not know whether he would be asked to do so. In a little under one month's time current EU Commission president Romano Prodi will step down from his post to be replaced by a new head of the Commission elected by the European Council. Names that have been mentioned in connection with the post along with Mr Cox include Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, considered the favourite, as well as others like Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schussel, or European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten.
President Vaclav Klaus has criticised as "undignified" comments made by Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber at the weekend regarding the so-called Benes Decrees. The decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II, remain a point of controversy and contention for some German and Austrian politicians. On Sunday Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber repeated a call for the decrees' abolishment, saying they had no place in the European Union. Mr Stoiber added that unless the Czech Republic condemned the post-war expulsion of Germans he would not pay an official visit to the country. Responding on Monday, however, Czech President Vaclav Klaus said the decrees were "untouchable" - saying any attempt to have them abolished was an attempt to rewrite history.
Czechs are expected to import cars worth almost 69 billion crowns, or 2.3 billion euros, in 2004 - by some 3 billion crowns more than last year. According to the Automobile Industry Association, the overall worth of both new and used imported cars of all categories has been rising by five to six billion crowns annually in the last few years. In 2003 over 286,000 cars were imported into the Czech Republic. Around 231,000 were passenger cars, two thirds of them used.
The Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber has again called for the abolition of the so-called Benes decrees, a piece of legislation which sanctioned the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. Speaking at the annual Sudeten German Days in Nuremberg on Sunday, Mr Stoiber said the Benes decrees were an injustice which had no place in the European Union. In his address the Bavarian Prime Minister said that if the Czech Republic does not condemn the post-war expulsion of Germans he will not pay an official visit to the country. He added that discussion on the topic must not stop after the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union.
The number of children with type 1 diabetes is growing in the Czech Republic. According to experts there are currently 2,500 children and young people under the age of 18 suffering from the condition. Their number increases every year by seven percent and the percentage is even higher in children under six. The situation is similar in other European countries, for example Hungary, Austria, Poland, Belgium and Portugal. Type 1 diabetes patients must depend on lifelong insulin injections. In total, there are about 47,000 people with type 1 diabetes in the Czech Republic.
The Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has left for a one-day trip to the Iraqi city of Basra to visit the Czech military police unit stationed there. Minister Kostelka is accompanied by the chief of staff Pavel Stefka. A one-hundred strong Czech police unit is operating in Basra in southern Iraq, training the local police force and instructors. As of July this year, six Czech military medical personnel are expected to start working in Basra at the request of the British troops. The trip is Minister Kostelka's first visit to Basra since last autumn.
The former Czechoslovak communist foreign minister Bohuslav Chnoupek, has died in Prague after a short illness at the age of 78. Apart from his political and diplomatic career, Mr Chnoupek also wrote many journalist reports, political publications and books. Bohuslav Chnoupek was born in 1925 in the Slovak capital Bratislava. He joined the Communist party in 1945. In 1969 to 1970 he was general director of Czechoslovak Radio where he implemented the first wave of the normalisation purges. Those followed the suppression of the Prague Spring reform movement by Warsaw Pact troops which occupied Czechoslovakia in August, 1968. In 1990, Mr Chnoupek was expelled from the Czechoslovak Communist Party and in the same year he was accused of abuse of power and spent six months in custody.
About 100 Palestinians and members of the Communist Youth Association gathered in Prague on Friday evening to protest against Israel's policies in the Gaza Strip and the Rafah refugee camp. The demonstrators highlighted the May invasion of Gaza by the Israeli army which claimed 44 victims. The Palestinian protesters brought along many flags and banners. They showed photos of dead Palestinians and destroyed houses. No incident was reported during the protest which was watched by some 15 police.
The Supreme Court earlier this week rejected the appeal of another former top Communist and confirmed a four year prison sentence for the former Czechoslovak head of telecommunications Karel Hoffmann. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction of sabotage during the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. A lower court had sentenced Mr Hoffmann for four years last June for ordering state radio to stop broadcasting during the violent crushing of the Prague Spring reform movement. The 79-year old Mr Hoffmann appealed on health grounds but lost. Mr Hoffmann is the first, and possibly last, top politician of former communist Czechoslovakia to be sentenced for actions connected to the Soviet-led invasion.
The eight men and two women who were arrested by a rapid deployment police unit in North Bohemia on Friday morning on suspicion of procurement have been taken into custody. The gang members have been charged with procurement, trafficking in people and criminal conspiracy for which they face up to ten years in prison if convicted. Among the suspects are Czech nationals as well as people from the former Yugoslavia and former Soviet Union. The Friday morning raid was carried out in three hotels, restaurants and flats in the Teplice district in North Bohemia.