The Czech Republic, along with Poland and Hungary, will formally join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on March 12th, according to the Czech Foreign ministry spokesman Ales Pospisil, who has been informed about the move by the US embassy in Prague. The three Central European countries will be the first former members of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact to be admitted into the western alliance. The accession ceremony will be held in the Harry S.Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, where president Truman announced the creation of NATO back in 1949, following the signing of the original treaty in Washington by 12 nations. The Czech Republic was formally invited two weeks ago by NATO Secretary General Javier Solana to join the western defence organization. Solana is due to visit Prague on March 24th.
Social democrat deputy Zdenek Jicinsky indends to put through changes in the law on political screening. Together with some of his party colleagues, Jicinsky suggests the amended law to state clearly that he, who has been cleaned out by a court of the accusation of collaborating with the communist secret police, the Stb, be considered a person not listed in the Stb files. Jicinsky cites as the main reason behind his proposed amandment the fact, that some people's names might have had appeared in the Stb files without their knowing about it. According to Jicinsky this goes counter to the principles of a law-abiding state because citizens are held responsible for vicious deeds done by the communist regime, which was proclaimed criminal and illegitimate by parliament after 1989.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Vladimir Spidla plans to limit over- time work, in connection with its growing occurance and especially regarding the steep increase in the unemployment rate. He also informed Saturday's issue of the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily about his intention to equalize care for a family member with a standard job. Spidla said that many people care for their old parents and go to work, which presses them to hire a nurse. Sometimes an old person has to spend his last years in a pensioners' home. Spidla pointed out that both the nurses and pensioners' homes are financed from state coffers. "That's why I propose that care for eldery parents be considered equal to a job, and the state should pay benefits to those who care for family members," Spidla told the paper.
Czech farmers are prepared to blocade those meat-processing plants which have been purchasing pork imported to the Czech Republic from the EU countries. Chairman of the Farmers' Trade Unions, Bohumir Dufek, told this to the Pravo daily on Saturday. He pointed out that the government had been given an ultimatum to accept measures for stopping the imports of subsidised pork till February 20th. If our demands are not met, we'll stage a blocade of all meat processing plants in question," said Dufek.
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