The Civic Democrat cabinet led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has approved its government policy statement ahead of a confidence vote which takes place on Tuesday next week. Cabinet members say that the proposal is based on an earlier concept discussed during post-election talks. The prime minister has said that he will seek the support of all parties in the lower house, with the exception of the Communists. He is planning to meet with MPs from parliamentary clubs of the Social and Christian Democrats, and the Greens before the October 3rd vote. Thus far, no other party has openly declared support for the minority cabinet. Mr Topolanek's policy statement commits his cabinet to governing only until June 2007 - opting for early elections.
Some 150 right-wing nationalists demonstrated in the town of Kladno near Prague on Thursday - the day of statehood - carrying Czech flags as well as placards with nationalistic slogans. At around two in the afternoon the demonstrators - reportedly dressed mostly in black - made their way to the town's historic centre, where around a dozen members of the anarchist movement attempted to provoke a clash but were separated by police. Both local as well as state police monitored the demonstration to prevent events from getting out of hand. In the end a skirmish between the two camps - anarchists and the ultra right - did break out, leading to three arrests.
The US Embassy in Prague has recommended that all US citizens visiting the Czech capital exercise caution with regards to a possible terrorist threat. The embassy released the statement on Wednesday - ahead of the state holiday - but said it had no specific information about any planned attack. An embassy spokesperson said that the recommendation came in reaction to questions by US citizens following a declaration by the Czech government last weekend stressing Prague was at threat. Special security measures in the city were introduced and remain in effect. The embassy has asked citizens to report anything out of the ordinary to the police.
The Association of Travel Agencies of the Czech Republic has revealed that the number of tourists visiting Prague has dropped for the first time since 1989. In the first quarter of 2006 the Czech capital saw 2.9 million visits by foreign tourists - four percent less than the same period one year ago. Roughly two-thirds of those who come to the Czech Republic visit the Czech capital. Reasons for the drop in the number of visitors 17 years after the Velvet Revolution says a representative of the Association of Travel Agencies, include the fact that many more Europeans are now familiar with the city. Meanwhile, although Prague saw fewer visitors in the first quarter of this year than before, the number of visitors from further abroad such as the US, Russia, Japan and China, continues to increase.
Czech footballer Milan Baros is set to return to the national squad for two upcoming Euro 2008 qualification matches. Those are set against San Marino and Ireland. Baros, who plays for Aston Villa in the English Premiership, has recovered from injury and could be an important asset for the Czechs: so far, the Czech Republic has won qualification matches against Wales and neighbouring Slovakia, putting it atop Group D standings just behind Germany. Other players nominated for the upcoming games include goalkeepers Petr Cech - who plays for Chelsea - and Marek Cech (unrelated) who plays for Slovan Liberec.
Twenty-two people have been treated for injuries received in a bus crash near the southern town of Jindrichuv Hradec. Five hospitals on Thursday checked those hurt in the accident, some of them with more serious injuries but none critical. The accident took place in the morning when the bus went off the road and into a ditch but did not flip over. The coach driver told police that the brakes on the vehicle failed. The coach was headed to Jindrichuv Hradec from Brno.
There are also big changes at TV Prima, the Czech Republic's other commercial station. Martin Dvorak has been dismissed as the station's director. His replacement is 31 year-old Aleksandars Cesnavicius, a native of Latvia. Mr. Cesnavicius has been with TV Prima since April 2006, when he took on the newly-created position of Operational Director. The Swedish company MTG, for which Mr. Cesnavicius has worked since 2000, acquired 50 percent ownership of TV Prima in autumn 2004.
Two weeks after the resignation of National Security Office (NBU) chief Petr Hostek, the government has named Dusan Navratil to the post. Mr. Navratil is the former deputy head of the National Security Office. Mr. Hostek, who resigned shortly after the minority Civic Democratic government was named, says he left the directorship because he always understood his time there as a temporary arrangement.
In his Wednesday speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Czech Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra has criticized Burma, Belarus and Cuba for human rights abuses, drawing attention to the imprisonment of political dissidents in these states. Mr. Vondra also expressed concern about international terrorism, poverty, and the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea. In addition, the Czech foreign minister has voiced support for the current Lithuanian president to succeed Kofi Annan as General Secretary of the U.N.; his term expires at the end of 2005. Minister Vondra also confirmed that the Czech Republic is seeking to become a rotating member of the Security Council during 2008-2009.
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