Daily news summary News

26-05-2005

Paroubek threatens to stop Klaus travelling abroad if he contradicts cabinet's foreign policy

The Czech prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has threatened to ban President Vaclav Klaus from travelling abroad if the president contradicts the government's foreign policy. The prime minister said Mr Klaus - who is opposed to European integration and the EU constitution - was a servant of the state who should reflect the position of the cabinet, which sets foreign policy under the Czech constitution. The government approves all trips by the president in what is normally a routine decision.

Earlier this week Mr Paroubek said in an interview with London's Financial Times that the president was exceeding his constitutional powers by campaigning against the EU constitution. Ratifying the document is one of the government's key policy objectives.

Mr Klaus's party the Civic Democrats have called on the prime minister to explain his comments in the lower house. The party has likened Mr Paroubek's statement to the practices of the Communist regime, saying it was an attempt to stifle free debate on an important issue which affected all Czech citizens.

Havel defends dissidents as US study stay comes to close

Meanwhile, ex-president Vaclav Havel has spoken in defence of former dissidents who protested against a statement by President Klaus; he warned of the dangers of unelected non-governmental organisations influencing public life. Mr Havel - who is himself the country's best known former dissident - said his old allies were seen by some as society's bad conscience. He said they were proof that it was possible to behave differently and not conform. The former president is currently in Washington, where he is just completing a two-month study stay.

Reporter targeted in murder conspiracy wins journalism award

Investigative reporter Sabina Slonkova has been given the Karel Havlicek Borovsky award for journalism. Ms Slonkova, who writes for the daily Hospordarske noviny, was herself in the news two years ago when the police foiled a plan to kill her by former Foreign Ministry official Karel Srba; he ordered a contract killing after she reported on some of his dubious dealings at the ministry.

Steep price rises for Prague transport system

Fares on public transport in Prague are to rise significantly from next month, the city's municipal authority has announced. The cost of a single non-transfer ticket will increase from 12 to 20 crowns (or from around 50 US cents to almost a dollar). Critics say the price rises could lead to more people using cars in the city.

Smicer, Baros win Champions League with Liverpool

Vladimir Smicer and Milan Baros have become the first Czechs to play in the final of the football's biggest club competition, the Champions League. Smicer scored a fine goal for Liverpool and also converted the club's final penalty in a shoot out after the game against AC Milan ended 3:3. After six years at Liverpool, the 32-year-old is set to leave in the summer, while Milan Baros, who is 24, may also join a new club.

Weather

We should enjoy sunshine and clear skies over the next few days. With temperatures set to reach up to 32 degrees Celsius, forecasters say records could be broken at the weekend.

26-05-2005