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NATO Secretary-General George Robertson thanked the Czech Republic on Thursday, for its support during NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia. Robertson met with chairwoman of the Czech Senate Libuse Benesova in Prague, who said afterwards that Robertson does not want the European states of NATO to rely so heavily upon their American allies. Speaking later in an impromptu speech in the Senate, the NATO Secretary-General said the Czech Republic was a fully fledged member of the alliance and was doing very well. After talks with Premier Milos Zeman, he said NATO member countries should reorganize their armed forces and equip them with more precise weapons systems. He said this was one of the lessons to be drawn from the Kosovo conflict. Robertson arrived on Thursday from Budapest where he praised Hungarian efforts to reform the armed forces. The Czech Republic along with Poland and Hungary joined NATO earlier this year.
European Union Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, said in Prague on Thursday, that as long as the Czech Republic speeds up the process of adopting European legislation, and takes steps towards reforming institutions and privatisation, it will stay in the first group of countries tipped to enter the European Union. These were his closing words as he concluded his visit to the Czech Republic.
Gunter Verheugen also agreed with Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan on Thursday, that the controversial Maticni street wall must go. Both statesmen who met in Prague, said the wall in a northern Czech town separating a Romany community from its Czech neighbours must cease to exist by mid December, when the Helsinki Summit takes place. Kavan said they also agreed that Romany integration is not an exclusively Czech issue. Gunter Verheugen, however, made it clear that this is not a problem for the international community and urged the Prague government to resolve the matter here in the Czech Republic. He said a wall in Eastern Europe would not be tolerated. This comes after the European Union has repeatedly said that the government's approach to Czech - Romany relations could affect the country's bid for membership of the Union.
On Thursday morning, Verheugen held talks with Romany activists, during which he said the Maticni street wall was a symbol of separation, which was greatly harming the Czech Republic's image among the international community. He promised representatives of the Romany community that the European Union would support long term social programmes aimed at improving the minority's position, both politically and financially.
Independent Senator Vaclav Fischer is refusing to take up his position on the Senate's Constitutional Legislative Committee.
This comes after he was assigned to the committee, on Thursday, much against his wishes. Fischer had hoped to sit on the Foreign Defence and Security Committee, where he said in the past he could best put his experience and knowledge to use. He said on Thursday night that he does not believe the rules governing the Senate can force him to work on a committee against his wishes. Head of the Senate Libuse Benesova admitted to journalists that the Senate cannot legally force Fischer to work against his wishes, but she said that she would like him to reconsider his decision.
Czech Premier Milos Zeman is expected to reveal on Friday afternoon, whether or not Health minister Ivan David is to lose his job. Milos Zeman on Thursday refused to comment on the political future of Health Minister Ivan David. As the pressure grows on all sides, from right wing opposition parties and Zeman's Social democrat party, to dismiss David and put an end to the confusion, the Premier declined to reveal whether or not he intends to dismiss David or not and if so, who would take over in his place.
Deputy Chairwoman, of the Social Democrats, Petra Buzkova, said if it were up to her, David would have left long ago. Head of the Social democrat deputy's Club Stanislav Gross, also criticised his chief Milos Zeman on Thursday, for hesitating over the matter for so long.
Chairman of the lower chamber of the Czech Parliament Vaclav Klaus, called on Thursday, for clearer and smarter dialogue with the European Commission. He was speaking after meeting European Union Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen in Prague. Klaus told journalists that at the moment there is a high level of ignorance, simplicity and distorted views during negotiations. He said that the main outcome of his talks with GunterVerheugen was that the Enlargement Commissioner will probably organise a special seminar in Brussels to clarify these points.
The opposition Christian democrat party slammed the main opposition Civic democrats on Thursday. A high ranking party official expressed doubts about Civic democrat intentions to improve the political situation in Prague. Referring to Wednesday's preliminary approval in Parliament on constitutional amendments which was backed by the Civic democrats, he said the party was obviously still set on supporting the unpopular opposition agreement. Leader of the Civic democrats Vaclav Klaus in October called for a new government consisting of a grand democratic coalition, after several members of his party said the power sharing agreement between the Civic democrats and the ruling Social democrats was not working.
The weather is set to stay the same over the next few days, with temperatures ranging from 4 to 8 degrees Celsius. Skies on Friday will be mostly overcast with the possibility of rain and snow in the mountains.
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