The outgoing Social Democratic cabinet is still discussing the possibility of sending Czech soldiers to Lebanon, to join an international peacekeeping force administered by the United Nations. According to Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, Friday's meeting of European Union foreign ministers will be key to the Czech Republic's decision. Mr. Svoboda says that it is important to clarify whether the Czech mission's mandate would be one of peacekeeping and observation, or whether the units would also be charged with disarming Hizballah. The foreign minister is also concerned about the costs of such a mission, and says that it must not jeopardize ongoing Czech peacekeeping in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, or Bosnia-Hercegovina.
After a one-on-one meeting on Thursday afternoon Mr. Kalousek said he was in favour of a coalition government even if it meant leaning on the Communists for support. He said he would present the idea to his party's executive leadership. The Social Democrats and Christian Democrats are both represented in the outgoing cabinet. They said they would seek support for their coalition government across the political spectrum. The two sides have scheduled talks on a policy programme.
Pluto on Thursday lost its seven-decade status as the ninth and outermost planet of the solar system in a decision taken by the world's top astrononomical body the International Astronomical Union meeting in Prague. Pluto's status had been contested for many years by astronomers, who now said its tiny size and eccentric orbit precluded it from joining the eight other acknowledged planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Talks on the formation of a minority Civic Democrat government have collapsed. Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek on Thursday abruptly ended negotiations with the Civic Democratic Party saying that it was now obvious that the two sides could not find common ground on the future government's policy programme. He said he would try to form his own cabinet with the help of the Christian Democrats and received a positive response from the Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek.
The coach of the country's national football side Karel Brueckner has unveiled his 19-man squad for the upcoming Euro 2008 group D qualifiers against Wales, which take place on September 2nd and Slovakia four days later. Missing from the roster are injured Aston Villa striker Milan Baros, Bordeaux midfielder Vladimir Smicer, and Ajax defender Zdenek Grygera. The coach however will be able to depend on the services of Chelsea keeper Petr Cech and Arsenal midfielder Tomas Rosicky. Cech is set to return to training this week following a recent shoulder operation while Rosicky, who recently picked up a groin injury, is expected to be fit in time. The Czechs will be without international stalwarts Pavel Nedved of Juventus, and Karel Poborsky, both of whom recently retired from the international game.
After an emergency meeting of its executive leadership the Civic
Democratic Party said it would not support such a government under any
circumstances. Prime minister designate Mirek Topolanek said his Civic
Democratic Party was prepared to form a caretaker government which
would lead the country to early elections and he called on all
democrats across the political spectrum to prevent the return of
communists to power. Mr. Topolanek also denounced the way that his
rival Jiri Paroubek walked out of the bilateral talks on a minority
Civic Democrat government saying that he had lied when he said they had
collapsed due to the Civic Democrat's unwillingness to compromise. They
collapsed, Mr. Topolanek countered, because his rival was hungry for
power regardless of the fact that he was defeated in the June general
In related news, the leader of the Green Party Martin Bursik called a press conference on Thursday evening to say that his party would not enter into a coalition or vote for a government supported by the communists.
The political turbulence has slightly weakened the Czech crown and caused concern among investors that the 2007 state budget and 2010 target for the adoption of the euro currency might be affected unless a new government is formed soon.
One of the Czech Republic's largest banks, Komercni banka, has confirmed that money disappeared from the accounts of ten clients using the on-line banking service, My Bank, or Mojebanka. A bank spokesperson said that Komercni banka's security system was not over-ridden, but that the thieves accessed information on personal computers, thus gaining access to accounts. Komercni banka has already covered the losses of its clients and a criminal investigation into the matter is underway. It is unclear how much money was stolen, or who the perpetrators are. Meanwhile, Komercni banka is introducing new safety measures for its on-line banking clients, combining the traditional computer access password with a code sent to the client's mobile phone.
A moderator at Czech TV, David Bork, has been fired from his position as host of the program "Udalosti" because of his handling of an interview with outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek. The decision was made by Czech TV director Zdenek Samal, who says that Mr. Bork did not manage to hold his own in the televised discussion which aired on August 16. According to Mr. Samal, the moderator was ill-prepared for the discussion, and he also crossed the line by interrupting Mr. Paroubek several times. The decision is said to have been made independently; Mr. Paroubek made no complaints about the interview. David Bork remains employed at Czech TV, as a member of the economics department where he worked previously.
The outgoing Social Democratic cabinet is still discussing the possibility of sending Czech soldiers to Lebanon, to join an international peacekeeping force administered by the United Nations. According to Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, Friday's meeting of European Union foreign ministers will be key to the Czech Republic's decision. Mr. Svoboda says that it is important to clarify whether the Czech mission's mandate would be one of peacekeeping and observation, or whether the units would also be charged with disarming Hizballah. The foreign minister is also concerned about the costs of such a mission, and says that it must not jeopardize ongoing Czech peacekeeping in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, or Bosnia-Hercegovina. Mr. Svoboda's public statements on the issue of Czech involvement in Lebanon have been more cautious than those of the outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek.
High-alert security measures in place at Prague's Ruzyne airport since August 10 have been called-off, says an airport spokesperson. The extra precautions at customs were put in place after the discovery of a planned terrorist attack originating in London and aimed at the United States. Since then, travelers leaving Prague for destinations in the United Kingdom were forced to undergo extremely thorough screenings at passport control. However, the ban on fluids and gels aboard planes flying to the U.S. remains in place.
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