The Czech government has said that in the event of war with Iraq the Czech Republic would support the US led alliance against the regime of Saddam Hussein. Following Wednesday's cabinet session Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said that war was "a last resort" in forcing Saddam Hussein to comply with UN Security Council resolutions. "The government regrets that it was not possible to get a UN mandate for action," Mr. Svoboda said. Czech President Vaclav Klaus said he fully agrees with the government's stand. The Czech Republic is prepared to send humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people and take an active part in the post-war reconstruction of the country.
The Czech Republic has expelled four Iraqi diplomats. The officials in question have been ordered to leave the country by Friday. According to Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda the decision was made on the basis of information from the country's intelligence service.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has cancelled a working visit to Slovakia in connection with the Iraqi crisis. The Prime Minister was to have met with the heads of government of Slovakia, Hungary and Poland to debate the international situation. According to a government spokesperson Thursday's Visegrad Group meeting in Bratislava will be attended by Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda.
The Constitutional Court has abolished a government-imposed moratorium on the price of rents. The court ruled that the government's price-intervention was unconstitutional but it refused to take the matter further and approve a measure which would prevent the government from taking similar action in the future. The ruling is purely a matter of principle since the three months moratorium was set to expire today. The government had imposed it in an effort to maintain a realistic ceiling on rent prices and prevent courts from being inundated with cases relating to the problem. Even after the moratorium expires landlords will not be able to increase the price of rents without tenants' prior consent. In a related development, the government on Wednesday approved a draft law according to which the price of rents should not rise by more than 10 percent a year. The bill has yet to be approved by Parliament.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved new quota limits on the sugar industry in line with EU rules. The Czech Republic has thus agreed to produce no more than 455,000 tons of sugar annually after it joins the European Union in 2004. Under the agreement the country can export up to 13,600 tons of sugar a year i.e. less than three percent of the country's estimated output in the current season. The news is expected to anger Czech farmers who had put pressure on the government to negotiate a better deal.
The police have arrested a man who allegedly threatened to kill Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach. The thirty five year old man allegedly made an anonymous call to a local police station stating his intention to kill the minister. The man had reportedly been unemployed for years and blamed the Social Democrats for his present circumstances.
Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy with scattered showers and some sunny spells. Day temperatures between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius.
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