Statistics released by the Czech Foreign Police on Tuesday suggest that the number of migrants crossing the Czech borders illegally has decreased, while the number of foreigners living in the Czech Republic without long-term residence permits is on the rise. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, foreign police representatives said 13,206 illegal migrants were detained at the borders last year, 535 less than in 2002. The number of foreigners proven to have lived in the country without residence permits last year reached 21,350; some 2,000 more than the year before. According to the head of the foreign and border police, Jindrich Urban, the figures show that the majority of illegal migrants no longer view the Czech Republic as a transit country, on their way to the West.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla met with members of Belarus' opposition party on Tuesday to discuss the future of the republic, which is currently under the autocratic rule of President Alexander Lukashenko. The group of MPs, which was invited to the Czech Republic by the Council for International Relations in Prague, also met with Lower House Speaker Lubomir Zaoralek, at which he promised to send Czech representatives to Belarus to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections. Czech politicians have continually supported the Belarusian opposition. Ahead of the NATO summit in 2002, the Czech Republic rejected a visa request by President Lukashenko.
The leaders of the ruling coalition parties have not been able to agree on who should represent the Czech Republic in the European Commission following the country's entry to the EU this year. The senior partner in the coalition, the Social Democratic Party, continues to support MP and former environment minister Milos Kuzvart. The junior coalition Christian Democrats, however, would like to see Ivana Janu, a judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in the post, while the Freedom Union has shown preference for diplomats such as Alexander Vondra or Pavel Telicka. Should the parties fail to come to a compromise, the future EC representative is most likely to become Milos Kuzvart, as his party enjoys the most seats in government.
The Czech rescue team that was deployed to help the earthquake-hit city of Bam in Iran almost two weeks ago is expected to leave for home on Wednesday. The team from the Czech town of Liberec has been installing makeshift toilets and wash rooms for the inhabitants of the devastated area and attending to sick children in the paediatric clinic.
The residents of the Moravian town of Studenka, close to Ostrava, plan to stage a protest on Friday against the alleged aggressive behaviour of a local policeman. The protest follows a petition calling for the officer to be sacked, which was signed by over 500 residents in December. The police officer has been accused of brutally beating at least thirty people. One of the organisers of the protest said on Tuesday that up to one thousand residents are expected to participate in the demonstration. The town mayor and the policeman's superior have agreed to make speeches at the gathering.
Reports in the British media on Tuesday say Czech international goalkeeper Petr Cech has agreed to join English Premier League side Chelsea from French team Stade Rennes at the end of the season. His manager, Pavel Zika, tells The Sun newspaper that the transfer is almost final, only needing a confirmation in writing. The 21-year-old goalkeeper, currently first choice in the Czech national team, will cost Chelsea around 9 million pounds. Chelsea are also reportedly interested in Borussia Dortmund's Tomas Rosicky. A transfer of the 23-year-old playmaker could generate up to 30 million euros for the financially troubled Bundesliga club. Rosicky joined Dortmund in January 2001 from Sparta Prague for around 20 million euros. He has a contract in Dortmund until 2008.
Wednesday has been forecast with occasional snow throughout the country and day-time temperatures between -2 to -6 degrees Celsius.
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