Meeting on Wednesday morning, Civic Democratic leader Mirek Topolanek
and Social Democratic leader Jiri Paroubek, have agreed to begin a new
round of talks to resolve the post-election stalemate. Both men say
it's too soon to speak of early elections, and Mr. Paroubek told
reporters that an agreement between the two biggest Czech parties could
surface within two weeks. Mr. Topolanek and Mr. Paroubek will conduct a
series of meetings in the coming days.
It has been two months since the early June elections ended in a political stalemate, and efforts at a three-party coalition between the Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, and the Greens leave these parties one seat short of a governing majority. In recent days, the Social Democrats have indicated strong opposition to the three-party coalition, thus rendering its possible government highly unlikely.
Since the beginning of this year, 2600 birds have been treated for symptoms of the bird flu in the Czech Republic, and 14 cases of the H5N1 virus have been confirmed. A Czech veterinary spokesman released the information on Wednesday, saying that the majority of cases were found in southern Bohemia. The last two reported cases of bird flu in the Czech Republic surfaced in May. Fourteen European Union countries have detected the bird flu this year, including neighbouring Slovakia, Austria, Germany, Hungary, and Poland.
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has announced that the Czech cabinet will release 15 million crowns for humanitarian aid to the Middle East. The Czech government has committed to sending humanitarian aid to both sides in the Lebanese-Israeli conflict. Mr. Svoboda says that the Lebanese government in Beirut has already received a cheque for five million crowns meant to aid civilians living in southern Lebanon, and as requested, the Czech Republic is sending fire hoses to Israel. Mr. Svoboda says that although compared to what France has donated, Czech aid is mostly symbolic, though the Czech Republic is one of the first EU countries to send humanitarian aid to the troubled region. Mr. Svoboda also pledged continued Czech aid for both sides involved in the conflict.
Officials in neighbouring Slovakia have announced that they are seeking access to files of the communist-era secret police, the StB, which fell under the administrative control of the Czech Ministry of Defense after Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on December 31, 1992. The documents of interest are those that concern Slovak citizens. Slovak Minister of Defense, Frantisek Kasicky, has confirmed that his office has prepared the documents necessary to divide this portion of the StB materials between the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech and Slovak ministers of defense must sign the agreement, and the parliaments of both countries must approve the transfer of the documents. According to Mr. Kasicky, experts from both ministries have already approved the text of the agreement, and the aim is to see the materials moved to Slovakia as soon as possible.
Six people have been killed in a car accident following a chase with police in neighboring Germany, and German officials say that at least one of those dead is a Czech citizen. Police near Berlin were investigating what they suspect is a smuggling ring, bringing illegal migrants into Germany. Five of those killed in Wednesday morning's accident were Vietnamese. The driver of the vehicle attempted to avoid police and after a high-speed chase the car lost control and flew off the road into several trees. Three people died at the scene and another three in hospital. According to German police, the vehicle was under surveillance before the chase began and officers were trying to uncover the base of the smuggler's operations.
TPCA, the car manufacturing joint venture between Toyota and PSA Peugeot Citroen, made a loss of 2.2 billion crowns (77.3 million euros, 98.6 million dollars) in 2005, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. According to the paper, TPCA turnover in 2005 reached 21 billion crowns (737.6 million euro, 941.9 million dollars). In 2005 the company produced only a third of its eventual capacity, TPCA president Yasuhiro Takahashi told the paper. This year turnover should rise to about 1.8 billion euros with car production climbing to 300,000 units, a spokesman added.
The would-be coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and
the Greens are going to offer to Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek that their
coalition cabinet would stay in power only until an early election next
year. It would prepare a state budget for next year and a change to the
election system which would prevent political deadlocks like the one the
country is experiencing now. The Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats
and the Green Party have been in talks since June about the forming of a
governing coalition, however, the grouping has only 100 votes in the
200-member lower house where elections in June produced a perfect split
between the leftist and centre-right parties.
Prime Minister and Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek has reiterated that his party refuses any kind of agreement with the three-party coalition. Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek has said he is planning to meet Mr Paroubek and present the offer to him in person.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Senate, Premysl Sobotka, has convened an extraordinary session of the upper house of the Czech Parliament for next Wednesday. The Senators should discuss the possibility of early elections to the lower house. They are also going to discuss an amendment to the Constitution which would enable the President to dissolve the lower chamber, provided that a majority of MPs have approved it and the government has stepped down. Under current legislation, the procedure is considerably lengthier.
Dominik Hasek, the 41-year-old Czech goaltender known as the "Dominator", signed a one-year National Hockey League contract on Monday with the Detroit Red Wings. Hasek was not kept by the Ottawa Senators and the six-time Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL's top netminder had said he would only play another season for the Senators. He was lured back to the Red Wings, who he helped win a Stanley Cup in 2002, for a 750,000-dollar contract that could bring up to 1.1 million dollars in playoff bonus money. Hasek was a hero for the 1998 gold medal Czech hockey team, helping them capture the first Olympic tournament to feature NHL players at Nagano, Japan.
Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has met President Vaclav Klaus to give him details about his party's plan to solve the political deadlock after the June national elections. Mr Paroubek declined to comment on what he called a "comprehensive" plan of the Social Democrats. He only indicated that it should involve an agreement between the Civic Democrats who won the elections and his Social Democrats who came second.
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