After three weeks of negotiations representatives of the Civic Democrats,
the Christian Democrats, and the Green Party have signed a coalition
agreement. Their agreement entails details of a common program which
focuses on relations with the European Union, international cooperation,
family matters, education, culture, respect for the rule of law, the fight
against corruption, a healthy economy, and comfortable rural and urban
living standards. The division of ministry posts has also been decided,
with the Civic Democrats allotted nine posts, and the Christian Democrats
and Greens three each. Mirek Topolanek, the coalition's proposed prime
minister, says that all ministers will be required to submit a personal
property audit which will be kept in a safe at the office of the
government. Such a move is meant to ensure transparency and prevent
financing scandals that have befallen previous Czech politicians.
Before the official signing, the leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, said that the agreement is a compromise for all three participating parties, and that this coalition deserves a chance to govern. The three-party coalition occupies 100 seats in the 200 seat Chamber of Deputies, and it will need the support of at least one Social Democrat or Communist Party member in order to pass a vote of confidence.
According to a study released by Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP), France has the best healthcare system among European Union member countries, while the Czech Republic ranks 22nd among EU states. The ranking is based on five categories: patients' access to information, the waiting period for treatment, the results of care received, the overall generosity of the healthcare system, and access to medicine. Health Consumer Powerhouse, which is based in Stockholm and Brussels, compiles its index based on a combination of public statistics and independent research. Among the new member states of the EU, health services in Estonia and Poland rank better than those of the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, speaking to journalists while on a visit to the south Bohemian city of Ceske Budejovice on Monday, President Vaclav Klaus said that he views the emerging three-party coalition as the most hopeful and reasonable solution to the post-election situation in the Czech Republic. President Klaus is scheduled to meet with Civic Democratic chairman Mirek Topolanek—who is likely the next Czech prime minister—on Tuesday evening.
On Monday Senator Martin Mejstrik, one of the initiators of a proposed law that aspires to ban symbols of communism, presented journalists with proof that the chairman of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, Vojtech Filip, knowingly collaborated with the former communist-era secret police, the StB. The newly-uncovered documents include the protocol that Mr. Filip signed, pledging cooperation with the StB and fulfillment of tasks entrusted to him by the secret police organization. The Ministry of the Interior has just released the key document which proves that Mr. Filip knowingly collaborated with the communist secret police. In the early 1990s Mr. Filip faced similar charges which he denied; a 1993 court ruling concluded that he had not collaborated knowingly. Mr. Filip is currently in the running to become one of the next deputy chairmen of the lower house, a post he also held during the last government's term.
Reacting to the newly-signed coalition agreement, the leader of the
Social Democratic Party, Jiri Paroubek, says that the proposed
centre-right government will be impossible to tolerate. Mr. Paroubek
told reporters that the coalition agreement is a document structured
along the lines of "poor journalism," and on the other hand contains
details that would dramatically affect the lives of Czechs. According
to Mr. Paroubek, the coalition agreement was made without regard for
the concerns of the Social Democratic Party, which won the second
largest share of votes in the recent elections. The Social Democratic
leader is displeased with the chapter on healthcare, as well as what he
sees as the coalition's unclear position on the adoption of the Euro.
Meanwhile, deputy Social Democratic leader Bohuslav Sobotka says that
his party can not sign a "blank cheque" for the proposed coalition.
In recent days the Civic Democratic and Social Democratic leaders met several times to try and find common ground for support of the new government. Their efforts have been unsuccessful, but Green Party leader Martin Bursik says that Monday's coalition agreement should be a new starting point for dialogue with the Social Democrats.
The Prague Zoo's program of reintroducing endangered animals back into the wild is proving successful, but it needs more money. The director of the Prague Zoo, Petr Fejk, says that at the beginning of the 21st century zoos have many functions, among the most important of which is protecting endangered species, and whenever possible, helping them to return to life in their natural habitats. But the animal reintegration programs are expensive, and the efforts of Prague Zoo are dependent on financial support, a portion of which comes from the international organization of zoological gardens. During the summer months, fundraising in the Czech Republic will be coordinated by a project called 'Help Us Back into the Wild', which will be run in cooperation with zoos in Brno, Ostrava, Liberec, and Usti nad Labem.
The lead candidate for prime minister, Mirek Topolanek of the Civic Democratic Party, has told reporters that he would support the establishment of an American anti-missile base in the Czech Republic. Mr. Topolanek says that such a move would not only contribute to alliance agreements that the Czech Republic has, but would also add to the safety of the Czech state. Mr. Topolanek told the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes that details pertaining to an upcoming visit by a NATO delegation are currently being ironed-out, and that he sees no need for a national referendum on the issue—according to the Civic Democratic leader, the government should decide whether or not to establish the anti-missile base. The matter will be decided within weeks, as the Americans are awaiting an answer by the end of September; Congress will discuss the possible base in the autumn sitting, and construction could begin in 2007. Poland and Hungary are the other possible candidate countries in the running to house the anti-missile base.
The site of the troubled Czech aircraft manufacturer Aero Vodochody, which is to be privatized, could be used as a second international airport, a transport ministry report says. The report refutes fears expressed by Transport Minister Milan Simonovsky earlier this year that the plan could have a negative economic impact on Prague's international Ruzyne airport. Aero Vodochody could be attractive for lower category aircraft. The report writes that both airports could have the capacity to serve a total of 27 million passengers in 2022.
The Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens have approved a draft coalition programme that their party leaders drew up on Friday. The programme names six priorities - the European Union and international cooperation; the citizen, family, education and culture, respect for the rule of law and the fight against corruption; public finances; a modern economy and new work places; and comfortable rural and urban living standards. An agreement to form a new coalition government is expected to be signed on Monday.
More than half of the Czech population is not happy about giving up its currency for the euro, results of a poll commissioned by the European Commission suggest. In the poll on attitudes on the euro in EU member states outside the euro-zone, 52 percent of respondents also said the adoption of the euro would benefit their country. Most Czechs, an EC report says, expect the country to have adopted the euro by 2010.
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