A group of US congressmen have called onto the government of the United States to begin dialogue with those EU countries, including the Czech Republic, that have been pushing for visa-free travel to the States. The letter addressed to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was initiated by congressmen John Shimkus and Dennis Kucinich, who have been stressing that it would be right and fair to include the countries in the visa-waiver programme. The letter was signed by 25 members of Congress.
Police in Spain have reportedly detained the Czech wife of a man they believe to be a contract killer. Emilio Perez Rivera is suspected of double murder and was arrested on Wednesday in the Central Bohemian town of Caslav where he was in hiding. His wife Marketa was arrested on her way to Spain this week. A court will decide on Mr Rivera's extradition to Spain, which issued a European arrest warrant for him last month.
An opinion poll commissioned by Pravo newspaper suggests that 53 percent of the Czech population would like President Vaclav Klaus to entrust an independent expert with the forming of a new government. The poll, conducted by the STEM agency, also says 38 percent of the population would like to see former Social Democrat Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek given the chance to form a government, while only 30 percent opted for current Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.
Police say a leading member of the Russian Mafia, who was deported from the Czech Republic in the 1990s is back in Prague. The owner of a Prague restaurant was found during a police raid. Anatolij Katric has been asked to leave the country, Czech Television reported on Saturday. The spokesperson for the Czech Police organised crime unit says it has yet to be determined how Mr Katric got into the country.
The Communist Party has set three conditions under which it would support
a new proposed government. It would have to guarantee better living
standards, halt plans to control the budget deficit with the privatisation
of the power utility CEZ or any other such institution, and uphold the
sovereignty of the state, which they say could be threatened by the
presence of foreign bases on Czech territory or too much participation in
On Tuesday, the first attempt at forming a new government after the June elections failed as the minority Civic Democrat cabinet of Mirek Topolanek lacked enough votes to win a vote of confidence in the lower house of Parliament. The Communists and the country's governors have warmed up to the idea of a caretaker government of independent experts that would lead the country into early elections while former prime minister Jiri Paroubek would like to form a minority government of his Social Democrats, who won the second most votes in June.
All thirteen deputies of the Christian Democratic Party have pledged not to support a Social Democrat government which would lean on the Communists for support. The pledge was made in writing at the initiative of the party leadership after two deputies indicated that they would not be averse to discussing such a possibility. Czech Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said on Thursday he could break the country's political deadlock within a fortnight if he was given the chance to form a government. Although he did not explicitly say so, such a government would have to rely on the Communist Party for support. The Christian Democratic Party leadership is now trying to dismiss speculation that some of its deputies might break ranks and enable such a government to rule. The Greens have said they would not support such a government under any circumstances.
Czech Interior Minister Ivan Langer, who sharply criticized a year long delay in the expansion of the Schengen border-free zone at a meeting of EU interior ministers on Thursday, has said the Czech Republic would continue to push for the original date to be kept. The delay is allegedly caused by technical difficulties in setting up a new police data base for the expanded region. Mr. Langer said the Czech Republic supports a Portuguese proposal to upgrade the existing police data-base for the time being while simultaneously working on the new one. He said this would be worthwhile despite the fact that it would incur additional costs, because the delay itself would be very costly for the newcomer states. For instance 600 border policemen would have to be kept at the border instead of being moved elsewhere. A final decision is to be made in December.
President Vaclav Klaus on Friday met with Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to discuss the ongoing political crisis after his cabinet lost a vote of confidence in the lower house earlier this week. The president said that he would accept the prime minister's resignation next Wednesday and would ask the minority Civic Democrat government to remain in office until a new government can be appointed. Mr. Klaus indicated that he had a plan of action and said he would start negotiations with all parliamentary parties as soon as possible but he made it clear that he would not appoint a new prime minister designate before the end of October.
The daily Mlada Fronta Dnes claims that Jews were to have been the target of a planned terrorist attack in Prague. Quoting unidentified sources close to the country's intelligence services the daily reported that Islamic terrorists planned to kidnap dozens of Jews from a Prague synagogue and hold them hostage before murdering them. The paper does not say whether any arrests were made or specify the identity of the extremists. On September 23rd the Czech government tightened security measures around various sites in the Czech capital saying that the country faced the most serious threat of a terrorist attack ever, but gave no further details. Government officials have refused to comment on the Mlada Fronta Dnes report.
The leadership of the Christian Democrats has called on all the party's deputies to sign a pledge that they will not back any government dependent on the support of the Communist Party. The party's acting head Jan Kasal says he does not expect any of the 13 MPs to refuse to sign it, not even former Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, who recently indicated he would like the party to discuss and possibly reassess its resolution preventing the party's participation in any government that would depend on the Communists.
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