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Visegrad Group pledges joint support for issues promoted in next year’s EU presidency

The presidents of the Visegrad Group states – that is, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary – have pledged joint support for issues to be promoted by Hungary and Poland´s EU presidency next year. Czech President Václav Klaus told reporters on Friday that the issues would primarily include energy security and the removal of barriers between the V4 and some of the "old" EU countries. He said the presidents of Poland and Hungary has presented other issues that their countries´ presidencies will focus on, but said it remained unclear to what extent those issues correspond to the interests of the other V4 members, such as Poland´s aim of lifting barriers in Europe. The four presidents are currently meeting in the West Bohemian town of Karlovy Vary for a two-day summit. The summit is particularly important as Mr Klaus and and Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic are meeting with the newly elected presidents of Hungary and Poland, Pal Schmitt and Bronislaw Komorowski, for the first time.

MF Dnes: Authorities knew about dubious Tatra army commissions four years ago

The daily Mladá fronta Dnes writes that Czech ministers and police were aware of dubious commissions of Tatra lorries for the army made four years ago. At that time, the military secret service submitted wiretappings proving the questionable circumstances of the deal, but the organised crime department of the police did not investigate. The paper writes that then defence minister Jiří Šedivý eventually signed a contract for 556 vehicles for 2.6 billion crowns despite being warned by the secret service. He says he had been under a tremendous pressure from politicians and subordinates. Tatra chief executive officer Ronald Adams said on Thursday that on account of the latest information he had ordered a thorough investigation inside the company.

UN: quality of life in the Czech Republic 28th in the world

The United Nations 2010 Human Development Report ranks the Czech Republic 28th in the world in quality of life, between Singapore and Slovenia. The ranking, which puts the country in the “very high quality of life” category, is eight places higher than the previous year and the highest of all post-communist states. The top three countries on the list were Norway, Australia and New Zealand. In the bottom three positions were Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe.

Dobeš says Public Affairs chairman should not be a minister

Deputy chairman of the Public Affairs party and Education Minister Josef Dobeš has told the daily Právo that he does not think the chairman of the party should be a minister. Public Affairs Chairman Radek John is the minister of the interior. Mr Dobeš said he would be promoting the idea at the party’s conference in December, because he believes the chairman should not be overextended. He later clarified that he did not believe Mr John should step down as chairman. When asked about the comments, Mr John himself said only that the December conference would see radical changes unveiled.

Former KPB bank sentenced to three years’ imprisonment

The Prague Court of Appeals has sentenced a former head of the KPB bank, Antonín Moravec, to three years’ imprisonment for breach of trust regarding property management. The decision commutes an earlier sentence of five years’ imprisonment. The case has been underway since 1993, when Mr Moravec was charged with causing 200 million crowns in damages to the bank by providing loans to his own companies. KPB went bankrupt two years later leaving debts of roughly 3.5 billion crowns.

Police catch two gangs of burglars

Police in South Moravia have apprehended two gangs suspected of 80 burglaries and damages of 1.6 million crowns. One group stole goods from cargo vehicles, primarily construction tools, the other burglarised homes in Brno and took anything that could be pawned. The nine suspects face up to eight years in prison if convicted. Police said that the closing the case was a great success, as burglaries are generally very difficult to uncover.

Personal information to become voluntary on official identification cards

The lower house of parliament has decided that official identification cards issued to every Czech citizen will no longer include certain personal information. The amendment to the law on registers means that electronic cards issued in the future will not include marital status, place of address or personal identification number unless the applicant requests it. The optional information on the card may now also include registered partnership.

Sparta Prague boosts Europa league chances with 3:1 win

Sparta Prague beat Swiss club Lausanne in their Europa league return match 3:1 on Thursday night to considerably boost their chances of going through to the next round of the competition. Sparta came back from going a goal down early on in the game. Other results in the group also went their way with group leaders CSKA Moscow beating Palermo. Sparta are now second in the group with seven points, trailing CSKA on 12 but ahead of third placed Palermo on three points with two games still to be played.

Gale-force winds continue

Forecasters have warned of gale-force winds continuing until Saturday. Winds on exposed mountain tops in the north and north-west of the country could reach around 100 kilometres an hour according to the national meteorological office. The warning applies until Saturday evening


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with showers at the weekend and temperatures dropping from 14 to 9° Celsius.