The government has decided that Czech diplomacy will support the launch of negotiations on Turkey's accession to the European Union. The Prime Minister Stanislav Gross will present the Czech stand at the EU summit in December which is to make a final decision on the start of the integration process with Turkey. However, the Czech government along with representatives of the European Commission stresses that Ankara must fulfil all membership criteria and there is no automatic guarantee that the talks will result in EU admission. Turkey has sought to become an EU member since 1963. Europe however criticises the country for its treatment of women and the Kurdish ethnic minority.
The government has approved a crisis plan for the eventuality of a global flu epidemic. Although no new virus strain has been detected, scientists are worried that a bird flu virus could mutate and spread on to humans. In case a new variety of the flu virus occurs, Czech doctors will distribute anti-viral drugs until a vaccine is developed for the mutated virus. Flu epidemics occur every year but every 30 to 40 years the virus changes to the extent that existing vaccines cannot prevent the illness. The last such epidemic was in 1968.
The office of the Czech ombudsman says it has evidence of 40 new cases of alleged coercive sterilisation of Roma women - more than a third of them performed before 1989. The office is now gathering documentation which will be handed over to the Health Ministry. The first reports of alleged cases of coercive sterilisation appeared in September. The ombudsman Otakar Motejl appointed an expert commission to look into the matter. It is now to assess whether the cases of sterilisation were in accordance with Czech law and medical ethics.
Prague university students who are - as they put it - disquieted by the current situation in society, mainly people's declining interest in public affairs, are going to stage a march on November 17 whose route will copy that of the student march 15 years ago, which triggered the anti-communist Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. The organisers expect up to 10,000 people to join the event. Representatives of the student leaders of 1989 are expected to address the opening rally. The current students will read a declaration of their own, which will be available for the public to sign. Former anti-communist dissidents, including Catholic priest Tomas Halik and folk singer Jaroslav Hutka, will address the rally after the march ends on Prague's Wenceslas square.
The Culture Minister Pavel Dostal has been released from hospital where was treated for pneumonia and is to stay in home care until the end of November, a spokeswoman for the Culture Ministry said. The 61-year-old minister is still recovering from a serious operation in September during which doctors removed a malignant tumour from his pancreas. According to the ministry's spokeswoman, Mr Dostal should return to his duties at the ministry and in the lower house in early December provided that his health condition allows it. Minister Dostal will undergo chemotherapy at the same time.
Thursday should be an overcast day with sleet forecast in Central and East Bohemia. Daytime temperatures are expected to hover around 8 degrees Celsius.
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