Czech politicians have sent condolences to neighbouring Austria on the death of Austrian President Tomas Klestil. President Vaclav Klaus described the late Austrian president as a skilled politician who had contributed to "exemplary relations" between the Czech Republic and Austria, despite hurdles such as the controversial Benes decrees and the Temelin nuclear power plant. The former Czech president Vaclav Havel, who was a close friend of Mr. Klestil's, said he was deeply saddened by his death. Tomas Klestil was a great statesman, a skilled diplomat and a good personal friend, we understood each other well, Mr. Havel said.
Marian Bielesz, a former Freedom Union deputy, has said he may give up his mandate this week. The announcement is being linked to Stanislav Gross' efforts to gain a Parliamentary majority for a new government. If he gives up his parliament post, Mr. Bielesz would be replaced by a loyal member of the Freedom Union, which wants to form an old-new government along with the Social Democrats and the Christian Democratic Party. With the extra vote, the coalition would have 101 votes in the 200 seat Lower House.
Talks on forming a new Czech government continue. The designated Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has scheduled meetings with both opposition parties in Parliament - the right-wing Civic Democrats and the largely unreformed Communists - to try and win support for a new government. The leader of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek on Wednesday rejected Mr. Gross' offer of two lucrative posts, maintaining his party's position: to support only a caretaker government and push for early elections. He expressed confidence that no member of the Civic Democratic Party would betray this line and accept an offer from Stanislav Gross. Communist Party officials who are meeting with the designated Prime Minister on Thursday have said they are ready to negotiate.
The world's most star-studded football club, Real Madrid, will attempt
to sign the Czech striker Milan Baros if Lorenzo Sanz succeeds in
becoming club president next month. Mr Sanz has also expressed interest
in another young
Czech player, Tomas Rosicky. Milan Baros, who is 22, was the biggest star of the Czech team which recently reached the semi-finals at the European Championships.
The government is expected on Wednesday to discuss a plan to trim the 2006 budget deficit to four percent of GDP, gross domestic product, with an eye toward meeting the Maastricht criteria in 2008 and adopting the EU currency, the Euro, before the end of the decade. Under the terms of the EU's "Stability and Growth Pact," governments cannot run a budget deficit greater than 3 per cent of GDP, nor can they have a debt ratio of more than 60 per cent of GDP. Thanks to taking on unusually high "one-off" loan guarantees, the Czech Republic last year posted a 12.9 per cent budget deficit as a percentage of GDP — the largest of any EU country. This year it is likely to be 6 per cent.
Social Democrat party leader Stanislav Gross is due to begin meeting with the heads of the other political parties this week — including the largely unreconstructed Communists — about forming a new government. On Wednesday he will the head of the main opposition Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, and on Thursday, Gross is to hold talks with Communist party leader Miroslav Grebenicek. As the Social Democrat party leader and presumptive next Czech prime minister, Mr Gross has maintained that he will seek to build a cabinet without Communist support. For his part, Mr Grebenicek has said he hopes to influence the policy agenda but denied that the Communists were demanding the post of the Chamber of Deputies chairman in exchange for supporting the next government.
European Union finance ministers endorsed on Monday endorsed budget recommendations for the Czech Republic and five other new EU member states that broke the bloc's deficit cap last year. Under the terms of the European Union's "Stability and Growth Pact," governments cannot run a budget deficit greater than 3 per cent of GDP, nor can they have a debt ratio of more than 60 per cent of GDP. Thanks to taking on unusually high "one-off" loan guarantees, the Czech Republic last year posted a 12.9 per cent budget deficit as a percentage of GDP -- the largest of any EU country. This year it is likely to be 6 per cent.
The acting leader of the Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, has announced
plans to meet with opposition party leaders on next week, to sound out
possible support for a new coalition government. On Saturday Mr Gross
contacted the leader of the Communist Party, Miroslav Grebenicek, to set a
meeting on Thursday; one day earlier he will meet with Miroslav Topolanek,
the leader of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. Mr Gross was asked by
Czech president Vaclav Klaus on Friday to begin talks towards forming a
new coalition government. However, negotiations so far have shown it will
be difficult for Mr Gross to secure the 101 votes the new government will
need to clinch a mandate in the chamber of deputies. The outgoing
coalition government was based on the constellation of three parties
relying precisely on the thinnest of majorities.
Mr Gross has said he would still prefer solving the government crisis among the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Freedom Union, the last of which can no longer count on support of all its deputies' club members.
Meanwhile, junior government members, the Christian Democrats, have already announced they will not sit in any cabinet relying on tacit support from the largely unreformed Communist Party.
The German news agency SID has chosen three Czech players to its list of all-stars from this year's European Football Championship - Euro 2004 - held in Portugal. The agency chose the names of Czech midfielders Karel Poborsky and Marek Jankulovski, and star striker Milan Baros - the most players from one national side - to grace the roster of its all star team.
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