Eighty Czech soldiers have left for Prishtina, the capital of the south Serbian province of Kosovo, to begin the rotation of the Czech contingent in NATO's KFOR peacekeeping mission in the province. According to the Defence Ministry, the rotation of the 400-strong unit is to be completed on July 22. As of August 1, the Czech Republic will take over from Finland the command of the Centre multinational brigade in Kosovo for one year. The Centre brigade is overseeing one of the four zones in Kosovo supervised by the NATO KFOR mission. The Czech Republic has been participating in the Kosovo mission since 1999.
The Czech Republic's labour market should be reformed simultaneously with the pension reform in order to secure enough jobs for older employees as retirement age increases, Vladimir Bezdek, the head of the expert team working on the pension reform, said. The team has been assessing the alternatives of the pension reform as proposed by five political parties since last October. The Czech population is aging and the number of people in retirement age will be growing while the number of people able to work and contribute to the funding of the pension system will be decreasing.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has backed Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova in her dispute with Justice Minister Pavel Nemec. Prime Minister Paroubek said, however, that he does not agree with her statement about an alleged bribery of a commercial TV reporter by the Justice Ministry. The government coalition is going to seek a successor to Ms Benesova but it is probable that she will remain in her post until the end of this election term in mid-2006. According to the commercial TV Nova, Marie Benesova accused its reporter of having accepted a bribe from the Justice Minister's spokesman to artificially provoke a dispute between an outgoing state attorney and the Supreme State Attorney's Office. Ms Benesova later admitted that she had made a mistake by making such a statement.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said that he wants to talk about his plans to make a gesture of reconciliation towards Sudeten German antifascists with the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel during his Vienna visit on Thursday. Mr Paroubek said that before he submits the material to the government he wants to discuss the form of the gesture with the coalition parties, the opposition as well as the Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda at a meeting in Budapest on Wednesday. The former Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla (in office in 2002-04) also considered taking an accommodating step towards members of the German minority who were against fascism during World War Two.
A similar topic is being discussed at a two-day ministerial conference in Brussels which follows the publishing of the European Commission Green Book on demographic changes which the EU Commissioner for social policy and employment Vladimir pidla presented earlier this year. Politicians, scientists, experts and NGO representatives are meeting to discuss the aging of Europe's population and its implications. Commissioner Spidla said that by 2030 seven percent of the work force will have retired which will have a direct impact on economic growth. One of the necessary steps, according to Commissioner Spidla, is to improve work-life balance and help families with young children.
There is still no news of the two Czech citizens who have been unaccounted
for since Thursday's terrorist bombings in London. However, the Foreign
Ministry says there is no great likelihood the two Czechs were in the
parts of the city hit in the attacks.
The heightened security measures introduced in the Czech Republic following Thursday's blasts remain in place, with extra police on duty at strategic locations.
The Crystal Globe award for best picture at the Karlovy Vary
International Film Festival has gone to the Polish film My Nikifor,
directed by Krysztof Krauze. The film is about a mentally handicapped
naive painter called Nikifor Krynicky. Though the artist was a man, he
is portrayed in the film by actress Krystyna Feldman, who is 80 years
old. She won a Crystal Globe for best actress.
This year's Karlovy Vary festival was the biggest ever; a record 140,000 tickets were sold, exceeding organisers expectations.
The Czech poet Petr Kabes has died at the age of 64. Kabes established himself during the relatively liberal period leading up to the Prague Spring, but was later forced to do menial labour. He signed the Charter 77 protest document. In 1995 the poet was given the Jaroslav Seifert award, and in 2003 received the state award for literature.
Czech Muslims have strongly condemned the London bombings, for which an Islamist terrorist group has claimed responsibility. In a statement, the Brno-based Islamic Foundation expressed solidarity with the victims and their families and condemned those who, they said, abused the word of God in an attempt to justify their crimes.
Czech rower Ondrej Synek has become the overall winner of the World Cup, after coming first in the final men's single skull race of the season in Lucerne, Switzerland on Sunday. World Cup gold is a great achievement for Synek, who is 22 and made his debut at the beginning of the season with a win in England's Eton.