President Vaclav Klaus indirectly criticised the policy of Vladimir Spidla's coalition government in a speech delivered in the lower house of the Czech Parliament on Thursday. President Klaus pointed to the record-high deficit of the draft 2004 state budget, the planned public finance reform and the growth of the state power at the cost of civic freedom. Mr Klaus also called on Czech politicians to act in unity when dealing with key issues of the state. President Klaus's speech in the lower house on Thursday was his first address to deputies since his election in February this year.
The office of the High State Prosecutor has said it will not try to reverse the acquittal of two high-ranking communist functionaries Milos Jakes and Jozef Lenart, formerly tried for treason. The reason is a lack of evidence to support the suspicions against the two. The High Court in Prague fully acquitted Mr Jakes and Mr Lenart of the accusation that they had committed treason in connection with the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. The same court earlier this week rejected the appeal of another top politician of former communist Czechoslovakia, Karel Hoffmann, and raised his prison sentence from four to six years for his role in the 1968 Soviet invasion. Mr Hoffmann was the first, and possibly the last communist-era functionary to be sentenced for actions connected to the invasion.
Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has confirmed that he wants compulsory military service to be phased out by the end of next year, as proposed by his predecessor Jaroslav Tvrdik. If the plan is approved by parliament, the very last batch of Czech conscripts will begin their military service in April 2004. Minister Kostelka had previously said military service should be phased out either in 2005 or 2006.
At the same time, the Czech military command wants the active reserves to comprise a total of 3,700 men and women by the year 2008, chief-of-staff Pavel Stefka told journalists. Reserve companies, each 150-strong, will be established at all 14 regional military headquarters to help civil administration solve mainly non-military emergency situations. If necessary, the reservists will help guard significant buildings and sites and support NATO troops, if deployed on Czech territory. The active reserves will be an integral part of the reformed professional army.
Friday is going to be partly cloudy with daytime temperatures ranging from 10 to 13 degrees Celsius.
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