Police have secured the descriptions of three men who robbed a currency exchange office in the center of Prague on Saturday afternoon. The men got away with a reported 800 000 crowns, and police are currently gathering evidence, screening surveillance footage and interviewing possible witnesses. A spokeswoman from the Prague police department said that the thieves were not masked, and that they spoke Czech with a foreign accent. One of the three men used a firearm during the robbery, and local residents are being asked to provide any information they may have about the incident.
Outgoing Social Democratic prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has confirmed
that he intends to press for early elections to the lower house in 2008.
Mr. Paroubek made the statements during a televised interview on Sunday,
saying that he does not want to allow a minority Civic Democratic
government to govern until 2009, when the Czech Republic will hold the
presidency of the European Union. The Social Democratic chairman was
reacting to his rival, the chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Mirek
Topolanek, who does not agree with the notion that the next government's
mandate should end before the EU presidency term finishes in June 2009.
Earlier, Mr. Paroubek had expressed the opinion that early elections would
not hurt the Czech Republic's success during the EU presidency rotation.
Mr. Topolanek and Mr. Paroubek are due to meet on Monday to discuss the conditions for Social Democratic support for a minority Civic Democratic government. Mr. Paroubek wants to approve key ministry postings and two possible Civic Democratic candidates are problematic for him: Alexander Vondra and Ivan Langer, who have been tipped as candidates for foreign minister and interior minister, respectively.
The new school year set to begin in a couple of weeks will usher in the beginning of significant reforms to the educational system, says a spokesman from the Ministry of Education. The new educational techniques will first be tested at elementary schools designated for the pilot-program, meant to eliminate the traditional approach in Czech schools which saw children memorizing a great many facts and placed far less stress on creativity and discussion. The ministry also says that parents will have a greater opportunity to provide schools and teachers with feedback on their child's education. The educational reforms are marked as the most significant since the early 1990s and will come into effect on 1 September 2007.
One man died at the scene of a highway accident on the D1 motorway near
Brno on Sunday, and the driver of the vehicle was taken to hospital
with critical injuries.
It is the second serious accident on the D1 motorway to take place over the weekend. On Saturday, the D1 was closed for over 10 hours as police conducted an investigation into a major accident involving a semi-truck and thirteen other vehicles.
The deputy finance minister Eduard Janota says that the Czech
Republic's planned adoption of the Euro in 2010 is in danger. Mr.
Janota made the statement during a televised interview on Sunday. He
says that the Euro's adoption is threatened because the Czech Republic
must fulfill all the Maastricht criteria by the middle of 2007, and
that includes criteria regarding the proposed state budget deficit. EU
standards set deficit rates at a maximum of 3.3% of GDP, while the
Czech Republic's proposed budget for 2007 stands at 88 billion crowns,
including a deficit of 3.8% GDP.
Meanwhile, outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has reacted to the news by saying that it is better to delay the introduction of the Euro than to cut-back on social programs.
A serious accident on the D1 highway between Prague and Brno left the motorway closed for more than ten hours in the early hours of Saturday. A long-haul truck crashed into a colony of thirteen cars, sending three people to hospital with injuries; all are expected to make a full recovery. The incident happened near Strechov, central Bohemia, the site of other serious accidents in recent years.
Meanwhile, Christian Democratic leader, Miroslav Kalousek, says that his party is definitely taking the position of an opposition party in the lower house. Mr. Kalousek told reporters that it remains unclear whether Christian Democrat MPs will vote directly against Mr. Topolanek's proposed minority government in a vote of confidence, or simply walk out of the lower house prior to the vote. Nonetheless, Mr. Kalousek is taking the position that any previous cooperation agreed upon within the three-party coalition framework has been dissolved given the new efforts to have a minority Civic Democratic government supported by the Social Democrats.
Several tens of people protested on Saturday against plans to store nuclear waste in the Klatovy region of west Bohemia. The protest went ahead even though government plans to proceed with the construction of a nuclear waste storage facility have been put on hold until 2009. A spokesman for a concerned group of citizens said that people are afraid of water contamination, as well as possible terrorist attacks.
Prime Minister designate, Mirek Topolanek, has indicated that he will
likely nominate Pavel Zarecky for a ministerial post in the emerging
Civic Democratic minority government, even though Mr. Zarecky is not a
Civic Democrat. Mr. Zarecky led the Committee on Legislation and served
as minister without portfolio in the previous Social Democratic cabinet
of Jiri Paroubek. Mr. Topolanek revealed his intentions in an interview
for the Saturday edition of the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, though he
refused to name others who may figure in his new minority cabinet,
saying only that names which appeared during the previous negotiations
with the three-party coalition still stand.
Mr. Topolanek is currently in the process of trying to secure an agreement from the Social Democrats by which a minority Civic Democratic led government would be tolerated. Reports say that an agreement between the two largest Czech political parties could be on the table sometime next week.