The European Commission has said none of the ten newcomer states are ready to join the single currency and pressed for continued efforts. European Union financial chiefs concluded at their meeting on Wednesday that none of the countries vying to join the now 12 nation Euro zone fulfilled the five tests for Euro membership. They noted individual progress on some targets. The Czech Republic meets the criteria for inflation but falls short of the requirement of keeping its public deficit below 3.0 percent of GDP. The Commission has declined to forecast how soon the newcomers could swap their currencies for the Euro.
The Prague City Court ruled on Wednesday that the Kinsky Palace on Prague's Old Town Square will remain in the hands of the state. The court thus confirmed an earlier verdict issued by a district court which overturned the claim of Frantisek Oldrich Kinsky for the return of family property. The Kinsky family lost its property after WWII on the basis of the so-called Benes decrees which ordered the confiscation of property of Nazi collaborators. According to the court of appeal the confiscation of property was legal. Kinsky, who was present at the hearing, said he would fight on.
The government has approved a plan for the establishment of special institutions for dangerous juvenile delinquents. The proposed amendment to the law on institutionalized care comes in reaction to a series of brutal murders committed by underage delinquents, most of whom were on the run from institutions for problem children. The idea is to isolate underage delinquents who are considered a threat to society and give them professional supervision and care. The cost of establishing such institutions would be covered by the Education Ministry.
Minister without portfolio Jaroslav Bures has been put in charge of the government's anti-drug policy. He has been commissioned to draft a national anti-drug strategy for the next four years, working closely with the interior, health, justice and education ministers. Mr. Bures has allegedly requested two months to prepare the document. He told the media that he intended to focus on prevention rather than repression and said that instead of investing money into prevention programmes which state what is common knowledge the public should be given shock therapy and made to see the everyday reality of drug addiction.
The Czech Republic is striving for visa-free relations with Russia, according to the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda. The visa regime between the two countries was introduced in 2000 at the Czech Republic's initiative. During talks with the visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergej Lavrov, Mr. Svoboda said that, following a decline in the 90s, relations between the Czech Republic and Russia were once again very good. Despite the friendly tone, the Russian foreign minister faced some tough questions in the Senate where he was asked to explain Moscow's policy with regard to Chechnya. Czech President Vaclav Klaus is to pay a state visit to Moscow in May of next year.
Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy with scattered showers and day temperatures between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.
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