The US State Department has again ranked the Czech Republic as a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. The report outlines as dominant the trafficking of women and children from countries which include Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Vietnam, for purposes of prostitution and sexual abuse. Also outlined is the problem of interior trafficking of Romani women. In 2004, the Czech Republic tightened legislation against traffickers as well as broadened a pilot programme helping victims nation-wide. In 2004, 30 cases of trafficking in the Czech Republic were investigated, with 19 going to court. 12 people involved in trafficking were convicted - up from 5 the previous year.
54 percent of respondents in a recent poll have said that the president should act in concordance with the cabinet with regards to foreign policy, and follow the political course set by the Foreign Ministry. The poll was conducted by the CVVM polling agency in April and released Friday. More than one-fourth of respondents said that the president did not have to follow the government's recommendations. Recently Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and President Vaclav Klaus found themselves at odds in an argument over foreign policy, with Mr Paroubek insisting it was primarily the responsibility of the cabinet and not the president. President Klaus and Mr Paroubek later settled their dispute at Prague Castle, agreeing to coordinate their standpoints during visits abroad.
The Czech Republic's national football squad defeated Andorra in its World Cup qualifier by a score of 8:1 on Saturday in the north Bohemian town of Liberec. Vratislav Lokvenc opened the scoring while others who put the ball in the net included Vladimir Smicer, Milan Baros, and team captain Tomas Galasek, who scored his first goal for the national side. The lop-sided win earns the Czech Republic 3 points and puts the Czechs atop of their group at 18 pts. The Netherlands are currently 2nd and next face Romania. The Czech Rep will next see action against Macedonia on Wednesday.
Human rights activists lit candles outside the Chinese Embassy in Prague Friday to mark the 16th anniversary of the massacre in the centre of Beijing in Tiananmen Square in which hundreds were reported killed and injured, with hundreds imprisoned. Friday's commemorative event in Prague was organised by the Olympic Watch and Amnesty International. About thirty people attended Friday's event which began in front of the Government Office. Organisers read a letter addressed to Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, presenting it to government officials. The prime minister is to due to visit China later this month. The two organisations asked that he promote respect for human rights in negotiations with the Chinese government.
A tanker truck crashed near Podebrady, east of Prague, on Saturday, spilling some 17,000 litres of petrol and 12,000 litres of diesel oil. The truck turned over in a bend, which the driver failed to manoeuvre. Fire fighters have been cleaning up at the scene. The accident has been described as the worst of its kind in the area of Podebrady in years.
The Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said that the current debate on the future of the euro must not cast doubt on Czech plans to join the single currency by 2010. He stressed that even the prospect of joining the euro is beneficial for the country's economy, for instance by helping to reduce the deficit in public finances. Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka likewise stressed that the euro was a successful project and that plans to join the single currency should remain on track. Although analysts say there is no economic reason for the euro-zone to break up, some have advised putting off euro adoption beyond 2010.
The Czech army wants to put its state-of-the-art Vera radar system at the disposal of NATO from the beginning of next year, according to the defence ministry's press department. The mobile system is able to discover the presence of a different radar system and determine its type without being revealed. It can monitor up to 200 planes simultaneously and is able to define the distance and altitude of any target with great accuracy.
The Czech Republic's foreign trade balance showed a surplus of 5.1 billion crowns /168.8 million euros/ in April, showing the largest year-on-year growth in its 12 year history. Year on year the surplus grew by 16 billion crowns, from a 10.9 billion deficit in April 2004, the Czech Statistical Office said. The main reasons were an improved balance in trade in machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and related products and manufactured goods classified mainly by material.
The rejection of the EU Constitution by France and the Netherlands has resulted in a higher number of Czech Euro-sceptics. According to the results of an opinion survey conducted by the FACTUM polling agency in the wake of the French and Dutch rejections, the number of Czechs who would vote against the EU Constitution /33.7 percent/ is now slightly higher than the number of its supporters /31.5 percent/. The biggest camp however is made up of people who are as yet undecided /34.8percent/.
EU border controls should be lifted for Czechs in late 2007, when Brussels plans to extend the Schengen area to the new member states, Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said following a meeting with his counterparts from the EU, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. The ministers discussed the introduction of a new generation of the Schengen information system SISII the launch of which, in the spring of 2007, is a necessary condition for expansion.
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