The outgoing U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft is set to arrive in Prague on Monday evening ahead of talks on Tuesday with Czech politicians including Justice Minister Pavel Nemec and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan. Among other things the Czech justice minister and his U.S. counterpart will work to negotiate a new treaty on extradition. The current treaty between the U.S. and the Czech Republic dates back to 1920s Czechoslovakia and a new basis for cooperation between the two countries needs to be adopted, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry has said.
Icy conditions are more than likely to have been a factor in a five-car pile-up in the north Bohemian region of Usti nad Labem on Sunday that left three injured and transported to hospital in Litomerice. One of the cars caught fire in the crash, but was soon put out by fire fighters arriving at the scene.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus has come out with strong words against the current coalition government: in an interview for the daily Pravo, published Saturday, the president criticised the cabinet as being, in his view, "incapable of dealing with long-term problems" or presenting a "clear conceptual approach". The Czech president also criticised government ministers for being invisible to the public. The latest interview is hardly the first time Mr Klaus has criticised the government: the president also had strong words following a government crisis earlier in the year that led to the resignation of former prime minister Vladimir Spidla, replaced by Stanislav Gross.
Police in the town of Liberec are investigating an incident on Friday evening in which an unidentified man publicly doused himself in gasoline before setting himself alight. The incident took place in an area between the town's courthouse and local prison. Rescue workers who arrived at the scene were unable to save the man who died shortly after, having suffering burns on 100 percent of his body. The case of self-immolation is the 2nd in Liberec this year.
Members from two of the three government parties have - for the most part - rejected the president's view. On Saturday Social Democrat deputy chairman Zdenek Skromach said he believed the government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross would manage to govern until the next election in 2006, and ruled out a shift to minority rule. Freedom Union deputy chairman Frantisek Pelc, also commented, largely rejecting the president's words. At the same time he did concede he felt there was some truth to the president's criticism of the government's health care reform, which the president had said lacked "strategic focus".
Czech Post is putting up the price of services and stamps from February; for instance it will cost 7.5 crowns to send a letter within the Czech Republic, up 1 crown from the current price. The company said the increases would boost both sales and net profits. "Ceska posta" posted net profits of 700 million crowns last year.
Terezin has failed to obtain European Union funding to start building a university and cultural centre on the site of the town's former garrison and World War II ghetto, a spokesman said on Friday. He said the main reason the grant application was denied was the fact the buildings have yet to be transferred from Ministry of Defence ownership to the local authorities. But the defence minister, Karel Kuhnl, has said negotiations on the transfer will begin in the New Year.