More Czech nationals have left Lebanon amid Israel's continuing military operation against the country. The foreign ministry has said the group should arrive in Prague on Wednesday night. The ministry at the weekend called on Czech citizens in Lebanon to report to the Czech embassy in Beirut and leave the country. According to estimates, several dozen Czechs remain in Lebanon.
The chairman of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, has admitted that a caretaker cabinet may be formed to govern the country until an early election. Mr Topolanek said on Wednesday he still hoped a government made up of party politicians was a viable option. The Civic Democrats received the largest share of the votes in the June parliamentary election and started coalition talks with the Christian Democrats and the Green Party. However, the emerging coalition has exactly half of the seats in the lower house and therefore would not receive a vote of confidence in the chamber.
A poll carried out by the Median agency for the Mlada Fronta Dnes daily
suggests 83 percent of Czechs are opposed to the existence of a US
missile defence site in the Czech Republic. In reaction to the poll,
the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic, William Cabaniss, said the
construction of such a base in the Czech Republic was a controversial
topic for the country's citizens but public opinion was influenced by a
lack of information.
On Tuesday, experts from the US Missile Defense Agency began a mission to the Czech Republic to discuss the possible creation of a strategic missile defence site. The delegation is due to stay in the Czech Republic until next Tuesday and will visit three possible sites to examine whether they are suitable. Two other Eastern European countries, Poland and Hungary, are also being considered as possible sites.
The outgoing prime minister Jiri Paroubek has said his government will offer its resignation on Monday, July 24, provided the ongoing constituent session of the lower house is successfully completed. The government announced the intention to resign at the end of June, but President Vaclav Klaus then said that he did not intend to accept it until the newly-elected lower house started to function.
The Czech government considers Israel's right to self-defence legitimate, but it also calls on Israel to limit the danger to civilians and infrastructure as much as possible, a government spokeswoman said after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. The Czech Republic will support a rapid deployment of U.N. peace-keeping forces in the conflict area.
The outgoing prime minister and Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek
has said that his party has definitively rejected the centre-right
coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the
Greens. The party has called on the Civic Democrats to seek another
solution which would guarantee majority support in parliament. Besides,
the Social Democrats still want their member to occupy the post of the
lower house speaker. On Wednesday afternoon, the party proposed MP
Lubomir Zaoralek as their candidate for the post. The centre-right
coalition has decided not to field a candidate for Friday's election
when the lower house will attempt for the third time to elect a new
chairman, six weeks after the general election.
Should the lower house fail to elect a speaker in the near future, the Senate, the upper house of the Czech Parliament, will step in and call for early elections, its chairman warned on Tuesday. Speaking to journalists, Civic Democrat Premysl Sobotka said his party's senators proposed to hold a meeting next month at which the dissolution of the lower chamber will be discussed.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats, who won the second most votes during
the general elections, say a party member will only stand for lower
house speaker if he or she is the sole candidate for the post. Party
leader and outgoing prime minister Jiri Paroubek also said on Tuesday
that the Social Democrat candidate should have unconditional support in
Mr Paroubek was referring to last week's offer by the opposition to support a Social Democrat under the condition that he or she pledges to consult all five parliamentary parties before appointing a prime minister, should two attempts at forming a government fail.
If the conflict between Israel and Lebanon persists for much longer the Czech Republic could suffer economic setbacks, deputy trade and industry minister Martin Tlapa said on Tuesday. The attacks could lead to the closing off of the ports in Haifa, making it difficult for Czech goods to reach the Israeli market. The Israeli government could also decide to put off plans to launch certain projects involving Czech companies, Mr Tlapa says. These include the public tender for the supply of government limousines or steam turbines. Rising oil prices will also affect the Czech market.
The coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens will put forward a candidate to run for the post of speaker of the lower house of Parliament on Friday. According to the leader of the right of centre Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, the name of their candidate will be revealed on Wednesday. Ever since the Civic Democrats won the parliamentary elections early last month the three-party coalition has been trying to form a new government. But this is proving to be difficult as the coalition is one vote short of a majority in Parliament and enjoys no support from the left parties.
US military experts have arrived in the Czech Republic to find suitable localities for an anti-missile base. Following negotiations at the Defence Ministry in Prague, they travelled to a military base in Libava, north Moravian - one of the three possible sites. The other two are in Brdy, Central Bohemia, and Boletice, South Bohemia. The US experts will base their decision on the types of infrastructure, hydrology, geology and population density in the areas. According to the head of the military facility in Libava, Vladimir Kubisa, some local officials have been critical of the prospect of housing a US anti-missile base in the region.