At a two day conference of NATO candidates in Bucharest, the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman told 9 NATO hopefuls said that solidarity in the fight against terrorism was as important as restructuring the military. NATO membership does not mean shared tanks and planes, it means shared values and a commitment to international security, said the Czech Prime Minister, adding that one small military unit sent to support the war against terrorism was worth "a thousand pledges of support". Meanwhile, in a videotaped message to the nine NATO hopefuls, NATO Secretary General George Robertson made it clear that no final decisions had been made as to future admissions. He said "between one and nine candidates" could be invited to begin admission talks with the alliance at this year's NATO summit in Prague.
Finland's Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja has defended the Czech Republic's right to more seats in the European Parliament. After talks in Helsinki with the Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, the Finnish Foreign Minister stressed that all EU members should be treated as equals and he expressed surprise that the Czech Republic had only been promised 20 seats in the European Parliament on the country's admission to the EU, when EU countries with a lower population such as Belgium or Portugal have 22 seats. "We think this is a mistake which must be rectified" the Finnish Foreign Minister said. The Czech and Finnish foreign ministers discussed bilateral relations, EU expansion and the war against terrorism.
The Czech government is taking steps to tone down an advertising assault on the country's roadways. The transport ministry on Tuesday ordered the removal of hundreds of illegal billboards plastered along both major and minor roads. A ministry spokesman said work crews would remove all billboards positioned closer than the legal limit of 250 meters from the pavement. Illegal billboards have been blamed for distracting drivers and causing accidents across the country. Billboard advertising is the second fastest growing advertising medium in the country.
The Czech Constitutional Court has ruled invalid a decision by the National Security Office according to which state attorney Ivan Broz was denied the right to work with classified information. The security screening is compulsory for state attorneys and Mr. Broz lost his job as a result of the negative verdict.
Primary schools across the Czech Republic have begun educating 7 to 12 year olds about their rights. A picture book distributed by the Our Child foundation is said to have met with great interest both from parents and children. The picture book was put together at the initiative of various child help centres, when an opinion survey conducted by UNICEF revealed that a surprisingly high number of Czech children had no idea what their rights were. Its authors hope that by discussing their rights openly young children will find it easier to talk about their problems and seek out help. Toll free help lines for children receive up to 700,000 calls a year.
On Wednesday, volunteers will collect funds to help children suffering from leukemia. Close to three hundred students will collect donations in the streets of Prague, offering key-rings in the shape of a heart for the symbolic price of 30 Czech crowns. The money will go to the transplant unit of the Motol Hospital in Prague.
It will be another cold night with temps dropping to minus 6 degs C, and snow in the higher altitudes. On Wednesday morning fog should give way to partly cloudy skies and day temps between 5 and 9 degs C.