Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has backed Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova in her dispute with Justice Minister Pavel Nemec. Prime Minister Paroubek said, however, that he does not agree with her statement about an alleged bribery of a commercial TV reporter by the Justice Ministry. The government coalition is going to seek a successor to Ms Benesova but it is probable that she will remain in her post until the end of this election term in mid-2006. According to the commercial TV Nova, Marie Benesova accused its reporter of having accepted a bribe from the Justice Minister's spokesman to artificially provoke a dispute between an outgoing state attorney and the Supreme State Attorney's Office. Ms Benesova later admitted that she had made a mistake by making such a statement.
Eighty Czech soldiers have left for Prishtina, the capital of the south Serbian province of Kosovo, to begin the rotation of the Czech contingent in NATO's KFOR peacekeeping mission in the province. According to the Defence Ministry, the rotation of the 400-strong unit is to be completed on July 22. As of August 1, the Czech Republic will take over from Finland the command of the Centre multinational brigade in Kosovo for one year. The Centre brigade is overseeing one of the four zones in Kosovo supervised by the NATO KFOR mission. The Czech Republic has been participating in the Kosovo mission since 1999.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said that he wants to talk about his plans to make a gesture of reconciliation towards Sudeten German antifascists with the Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel during his Vienna visit on Thursday. Mr Paroubek said that before he submits the material to the government he wants to discuss the form of the gesture with the coalition parties, the opposition as well as the Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda at a meeting in Budapest on Wednesday. The former Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla (in office in 2002-04) also considered taking an accommodating step towards members of the German minority who were against fascism during World War Two.
The Czech Republic's labour market should be reformed simultaneously with the pension reform in order to secure enough jobs for older employees as retirement age increases, Vladimir Bezdek, the head of the expert team working on the pension reform, said. The team has been assessing the alternatives of the pension reform as proposed by five political parties since last October. The Czech population is aging and the number of people in retirement age will be growing while the number of people able to work and contribute to the funding of the pension system will be decreasing.
A similar topic is being discussed at a two-day ministerial conference in Brussels which follows the publishing of the European Commission Green Book on demographic changes which the EU Commissioner for social policy and employment Vladimir pidla presented earlier this year. Politicians, scientists, experts and NGO representatives are meeting to discuss the aging of Europe's population and its implications. Commissioner Spidla said that by 2030 seven percent of the work force will have retired which will have a direct impact on economic growth. One of the necessary steps, according to Commissioner Spidla, is to improve work-life balance and help families with young children.
The weather should remain changeable in the next couple of days with sunny skies alternating with heavy showers. Daytime temperatures should stay between 22 and 26 degrees Celsius.
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