The Czech Republic's Armed Forces have taken delivery of another three supersonic Jas-39 Gripen fighter jets leased from Sweden. Six Gripens arrived in the country on Monday but three of them had technical defects which have now been repaired, the Defence Ministry said. Eight more are to join the Czech air force by the end of August. The Gripens will be leased for 10 years for almost 20 billion crowns (850 million dollars). The planes are to replace an aging fleet of Soviet MiG-21s.
The Local Development Minister Jiri Paroubek who is expected to replace the outgoing Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, has said that the Agriculture Minister Jaroslav Palas will be replaced by Social Democrat MP Petr Zgarba in his new government. Mr Palas will be the only Social Democrat to leave the cabinet along with the Prime Minister Stanislav Gross following a prolonged government crisis. Jiri Paroubek is expected to be replaced by Social Democrat MP Radko Martinek in his current post of Local Development Minister. President Vaclav Klaus expects Prime Minister Stanislav Gross's government to resign on Monday, allowing him to appoint Mr Paroubek as the new prime minister later the same day.
The Czech President Vaclav Klaus has sent a letter to the chairman of the lower house, Social Democrat Lubomir Zaoralek, objecting to Mr Zaoralek's approval of the comments made by a vice-president of the European Parliament, Alejo Vidal-Quadras, and another MEP on Wednesday. Mr Zaoralek previously told the media that the two MEPs' objections to Mr Klaus's statements were 'accurate and apt'. The MEPs criticised Mr Klaus for his stance on the European Constitution, saying his recent statements were 'prejudiced' and 'untrue'. Mr Klaus reacted on Thursday by saying he found both men's words offensive to his person, as a head of state.
Siemens VDO, the electronic auto parts maker of engineering giant Siemens, wants to relocate part of its manufacturing activities in Wuerzburg, Southwest Germany, to the Czech Republic in mid-2006 in order to help cut costs, a company spokesman said on Friday. Siemens VDO's factory in the north Moravian city of Ostrava will specialise in the manufacture of technically less complex components, while the company would endeavour to retain as many jobs as possible in Wuerzburg, where the workforce numbers 1,600, the spokesman said. The powerful IG Metall labour union and employee representatives have long expressed concern that most of the Wuerzburg jobs could be relocated to the Czech Republic.
The incoming Czech Prime Minister, Jiri Paroubek, has publicly
presented a copy of a government document proving he did not
collaborate with the StB, the communist-era secret police. The
document, which dates back to 1992, was originally released by an
independent committee for Czechoslovakia's Interior Ministry. Under the
Communists Mr Paroubek was monitored by the StB, who listed him as a
potential candidate for collaboration - a listing the secret police
used to designate persons who failed to sign on.
On Friday Mr Paroubek even joked that the StB had a sense of humour when they code-named his file "Roko" - after his pet parrot.
The right-of-centre Civic Democrats in the European Parliament have
demanded an apology from the vice-president of the European Parliament,
Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca, as well as another EP member for comments
made on Wednesday. The EP vice-president, along with the chairman of
the constitutional committee, Jo Leinen, criticised Mr Klaus for his EU
stance, saying statements the Czech president had recently made about
the European Union were 'prejudiced' and 'untrue'. Mr Klaus reacted on
Thursday by saying he found both men's offensive. He has sent a letter
to the chairman of the European Parliament, Joseph Borell, asking him
to take a stance.
The opposition Civic Democrat MPs in the European Parliament have also reacted by calling the criticism "scandalous".
A source close to Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has told a Czech news website, novinky.cz, that Mr Gross will resign as prime minister next Monday, bringing to an end a prolonged government crisis that first erupted in January. At stake in the crisis: the prime minister's questionable personal finances. Mr Gross' replacement as prime minister will now be fellow Social Democrat and the Minister for Local Development Jiri Paroubek, who will lead an old-new coalition of three parties (the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, & the Freedom Union), enjoying the slimmest of majorities in Parliament.
The administrator of the Zbrojovka Brno arms manufacturer in Brno has said he aims to stabilise production at the plant as soon as possible before putting it up for sale. He estimated the price at around 100 million crowns (close to 4 million U.S.). Several parties have reportedly expressed an interest in buying the arms firm, which produces guns for hunting and sport.
One of the country's opposition parties in Parliament, the Communist Party, has already made clear that it will not back the new government, though it may support some legislation. Vice chairman Jiri Dolejs said on Thursday the Communists would be willing to back laws close to their own agenda. Though specific bills were not named, he and others indicated they might willingly back bills related to the social and economic spheres.
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