Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha is to start a two-day visit to the Czech Republic on Monday. Mr Berisha is scheduled to hold meetings with his Czech counterpart Jiri Paroubek and other senior politicians, who can share their experiences as Albania aspires to join NATO and the EU. Albania has a population of three million. With a GDP reaching a mere 20 percent of the EU average it is one of the poorest countries in Europe.
The country's best stage actors, singers, and dancers gathered at Prague's National Theatre on Saturday for the 13th Thalia Awards. The prestigious ceremony is held every year to award the most successful actors, opera and musical singers and ballet dancers. For the second time, distinguished soprano Eva Urbanova won the prize for her role of Kostelnicka in Leos Janacek's Jenufa.
Czech Lukas Pesek showed great form at Sunday's Motorcycling Grand Prix
in Jerez, Spain. The 20 year-old Derbi rider came a historic second in
the 125cc class opening race. Spain's Alvaro Bautista produced a
commanding performance to claim his first ever grand prix victory,
while Italy's Mattia Pasini finished third.
Meanwhile, Jan Kopecky finished fifth in a Skoda at the Catalunya Rally, the best placement by a Czech driver in this race.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has criticised the violent police action
against protesters in the Belarusian capital Minsk. Opposition
representatives and their supporters had been staging demonstrations since
Alexander Lukashenko won another term as president in a vote last weekend
that is widely believed to have been rigged. Numerous demonstrators are
reported injured and hundreds have been jailed. Mr Paroubek says this a
sign that Mr Lukashenko fears democracy and free speech.
The Czech Foreign Ministry also hopes to support the Belarusian protesters with various aid projects while the government is expected to discuss the granting of study stays to Belarusian students who have been thrown out of their universities as a result of their opposition to the Lukashenko regime.
Former Czech President and human rights advocate Vaclav Havel has
spoken out against the United States' strict visa policy towards the
Czech Republic. Mr Havel said the USA was being pedantic and to some
extent absurd. Millions of Mexicans cross the border with bags of
cocaine and heroin, but the authorities are worried about the Czech
student staying too long, Mr Havel told the CTK news agency.
But unlike foreign minister Cyril Svoboda, Mr Havel believes reciprocal measures against US citizens are not necessary. Instead, Czechs should get the word out by openly talking about it, joking about it, and writing about it in papers, such as the New York Times, Mr Havel suggests.
A replica of a medieval crane that used to be powered by men running inside two large wheels is to be erected at Prague Castle. The crane will be part of an accompanying programme to the Charles IV exhibition that is currently underway. It will be constructed according to images from the famous Wenceslas Bible and similar cranes preserved in the Czech Republic and abroad.
The opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats have strongly criticised Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek for failing to defend Czech interests at the EU summit in Brussels on Friday. The Czech Republic has backed down from its earlier demand for a stronger directive on the liberalisation of trade in services. The move was criticised at the Civic Democrats' Executive Council meeting in Karlovy Vary. The rival Social Democrats were also scorned for the large number of corruption scandals around the party, a lost arbitration case that could cost the state billions of crowns, and unrest in the health sector.
The Czech government will not interfere in a decision to keep the remains of German WWII soldiers stored in a factory in the northern town of Usti nad Labem, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Saturday. The bodies of the Wehrmacht soldiers were exhumed from various graves around the country to be buried at a special cemetery in Prague. The organisers of the project ran out of money, and the remains were stored at the factory instead, where they have been for the last three years.