Zdenek Skromach on Saturday outlined his policies to a meeting of the ruling Social Democrats in Brno, a few days after he announced he would stand against acting chairman Stanislav Gross for the leadership of the party. Mr Skromach is expected to dissolve the present coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union if he wins the post at a party conference in April. Mr Skromach is supported by former Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman, who is critical of Mr Gross.
The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, has said he is "one hundred percent against" the proposed European Constitution, saying it created a new legal, constitutional and political "European state". Speaking at a conference in Berlin on Saturday, Mr Klaus said the constitution would lead to a loss of national identity, sovereignty and political independence. It was one of the strongest statements yet from the president, who has been a frequent critic of European integration.
Czech ice hockey megastar Jaromir Jagr has got off to a losing start at his new club Omsk, after the Russian league team were beaten 2:1 by Khimik Voskresensk on Friday. Jagr, playing in Europe because of an NHL lockout, recently attracted large crowds in the Czech Republic when he appeared at the club at which he started his career, Kladno.
The Czech Republic's state-run utility company CEZ signed a contract with the Bulgarian government for the privatisation of the electricity distribution network in the capital Sofia and two other regions of the country. Under terms agreed in July, CEZ will pay 281.5 million euros for a 67-percent stake in the electricity distributor. The company has agreed not to resell or restructure any of its shares until the end of 2008.
The Czech Republic may assist in the creation of a future urban plan of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said after a meeting with Baghdad's regional governor Ali Haidari. Mr Svoboda said the project was ready and it was now up the Iraqi authorities to choose between a Czech and Japanese project. Minister Svoboda pointed out that the entire realisation of the project was connected to the reinforcement of the security situation.
The deputy head of the Social Democrats Zdenek Skromach has announced he will challenge the acting head of the party, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, for the chairmanship of the Social Democrats at the party's congress next March. The heads of the party's regional branches have welcomed the announcement of Mr Skromach's candidacy, but some of them said they supported Stanislav Gross. According to the daily Lidove noviny, Mr Skromach's bid is being backed by the former prime minister, now retired politician Milos Zeman. The daily also writes that if elected chairman, Mr Skromach would aim for a minority government with support across the political spectrum, including the Communist Party. Mr Skromach is expected to unveil further plans on his bid this weekend.
The Prague Stock Exchange exceeded its starting level of 1,000 points for the first time in 10 years on Friday. The deputy head of the stock exchange Vladimir Ezr said there has been growing interest in the Prague Stock Exchange from both foreign and national investors since the country joined the EU. He added that higher interest in shares of major companies that were facing privatisation, such as the dominant telecom company Cesky Telecom and the power company CEZ and, had further boosted the exchange. The Prague Stock Exchange was launched in April 1993, three months after Czechoslovakia split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but the PX50 index with a starting value of 1,000 points was not launched until exactly one year later.
After renewing a hamstring injury in the Czech Republic's bout against
Macedonia, it appears Liverpool's Czech striker Milan Baros will be out
of action for about one month. That leaves Liverpool currently without
its two top guns: Djibril Cisse was sidelined in October with a
horrific leg break.
Milan Baros' renewed injury comes after a storybook appearance against Crystal Palace in the Premier league: the striker secured a hat-trick to help his side win 3:2, the first hat-trick scored by a Czech in the Premiership's history.
President Vaclav Klaus has signed a bill officially ending compulsory military service in the Czech Republic as of January 1st, 2005, paving the way for a fully professional military. The decision ends a 140-year-long tradition in the Czech lands. As of 2005 all new soldiers will enter the army on a voluntary basis only, and mandatory service would only be declared during a dire threat to the country or in cases of war. With professionalisation the number of Czech military personnel will decrease from 44,000 to 35,000; of that number some 26,000 are soldiers, while a little under 9,000 are civilian employees.