The heads of government of the Visegrad group states - the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary met in Prague on Monday to discuss EU related issues. The four EU candidates have consulted each other regularly in the course of EU accession even on matters where it was not possible to adopt a common strategy. The Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, who hosted the meeting at Kolodej Chateau, said cooperation within the Visegrad group would prove useful even after EU accession when the newcomers could help each other to find their place on the common market. Among the issues discussed in Prague was the EU's restrictive labour market policy with regard to the newcomers.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said on Saturday that he was not considering the option of forming a minority Social Democrat government. The prime minister and chairman of the senior coalition Social Democratic Party, made the statement after a second MP left the smallest party in the ruling coalition, the Freedom Union, on Friday, raising questions about the future of the governing coalition.
Amid rising uncertainty about the stability of the ruling coalition, the deputy chairman of the opposition Communist Party, Jiri Dolejs, has said that, under certain conditions, the Communists would be willing to support a minority Social Democrat government. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Mr Dolejs said that if the Social Democrats behaved as a left-wing party, the Communists would grant them tacit support. The Communist Party and the Social Democrats would have 111 seats in the 200-member Chamber of Deputies.
President Vaclav Klaus and Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla have laid wreaths at the grave of the first president of Czechoslovakia Tomas Garrigue Masaryk to commemorate the 154th anniversary of his birth. Both politicians said they considered Tomas Garrigue Masaryk as the most significant personality in Czech history. The founder of the Czechoslovak state T. G. Masaryk was born on March 7, 1850 in the South Moravian town of Hodonin and died at the presidential Lany Chateau in 1937.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has said that he is not considering the option of forming a minority Social Democrat government. The prime minister, who is also the chairman of the senior coalition Social Democratic Party, made the statement after a second MP left the smallest party in the ruling coalition, the Freedom Union, on Friday. MP Marian Bielesz announced his decision only a few days after Tomas Vrbik quit the Freedom Union in protest at its participation in the Social Democrat-led government. Both MPs, however, decided to remain members of the Freedom Union parliamentary party, which means that the ruling coalition retains its slim 101-vote majority in the 200-seat lower house of parliament.
Following the departure of two of its members of parliament, the leadership of the junior government Freedom Union has decided to call an extraordinary meeting of the party's national committee. The chairman of the Freedom Union, Deputy Prime Minister Petr Mares said that the party leadership would ask for confidence at the extraordinary meeting on Sunday but he declined to speculate on what would happen if the result of the vote was negative.
A second MP from the smallest grouping in the governing coalition, the Freedom Union, has resigned from the party. Marian Bielesz announced his decision on Friday, just a few days after Tomas Vrbik quit the Freedom Union in protest at its participation in the Social Democrat-led government. This second resignation will be seen as more bad news for the coalition, which has a majority of just one in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, has said he is satisfied with the outcome of Thursday's talks he held with senior European Union officials during his brief visit to Brussels. Mr Klaus told reporters that he had discussed the risks of speedy European integration and the future and financing of the EU with European Commission President Romano Prodi, the head of the European Parliament Pat Cox and the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. Thursday's trip was Mr Klaus's first visit to EU institutions in his capacity as Czech president.
Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has said he wants the Czech military to retain its current balance with regards to army units, while seeing a strengthening of specialisation fields. Speaking in the Senate on Wednesday on army reforms and defence policy, the defence minister stressed that smaller, well-equipped and more flexible and mobile units were desired over less wieldy forces. The minister also spoke about the role of NATO allies in case of emergency, stressing that each NATO country still had to be able to rely on its own abilities. Speaking of the necessary military reforms Mr Kostelka said it was essential to find necessary funds for modernisation and training by lowering expenditures for wages for soldiers and civilian employees, as well as reducing the number of garrisons in the Czech Republic.
Czech businessman Karel Komarek, majority owner of Fischer Travel, the firm originally founded by entrepreneur Vaclav Fischer, has gained firm control of the company for now. At a meeting of company shareholders Wednesday Mr Komarek pushed through a raise in Fischer Travel's share capital from 1 million to 11 million crowns. Vaclav Fischer, who did not take part in the share raise, loses influence over company operation for the time being. In the future minority shareholders Vaclav Fischer and Karel Komarek's capital group K & K will be able to raise the company's share level to increase their stakes to the level prior to Wednesday's general meeting, but Vaclav Fischer will be left without influence unless he raises far higher sums than he would have needed on Wednesday. New shareholder the K & K group has plans to still raise the company's share capital to 500 million crowns in 2004, while securing financing worth 500 million for the company's development.
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