The leader of the Social Democrats, Jiri Paroubek, has told President
Vaclav Klaus that his party is waiting for a chance to form a new cabinet,
an option they see as viable. Speaking after meeting President Klaus at
Prague Castle on Thursday, he said the Social Democrats were seeking a
coalition partner, not early elections. Mr Paroubek said the President did
not comment on the statement, nor did he indicate what his further steps
would be. Under the Czech Constitution, President Klaus is now to appoint
a new prime minister after a first attempt at forming a government failed
President Klaus has said earlier that he wants to see a government that will lead the Czech Republic to early elections, while enjoying the confidence of the lower house. On Friday, all five parliamentary party leaders are scheduled to meet jointly with Mr. Klaus at Prague Castle.
The Czech Republic is likely to reopen its embassy to Afghanistan, Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra said on Thursday. However, it is planning to close down its embassy to the Democratic Republic of Congo and a consulate general in Montreal, Canada. Czechoslovakia's embassy in Kabul was closed in 1992. In recent years, the Czech Republic closed its office in Cote d'Ivoire and opened embassies to the DPRK, Moldova and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In all, the country has 122 diplomatic missions around the world, 90 of them embassies.
Both the Green Party and the Christian Democrats say they will back the constitutional amendment facilitating the dissolution of the lower house and early elections, but the two small parties differ as to the line-up of the cabinet which should lead the country to early elections. While the Greens would like to see a caretaker cabinet made up of unaffiliated experts, the Christian Democrats favour a cabinet representing all parties in the lower house with the exception of the Communists.
Czech men's tennis star Tomas Berdych has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Masters tournament in Paris. Berdych, the eighth-seeded Czech, cruised past America's Robby Ginepri 6-3, 6-3 in just 65 minutes on Thursday afternoon. He is going to face either Britain's Andy Murray or Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia.
The outgoing Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty has decided to take legal action against the head of the European Democrats, a small right-wing party, MEP Jana Hybaskova, for having accused him of corruption without producing sufficient evidence. He told reporters on Thursday he would demand 5 million crowns. Jana Hybaskova has already apologised to Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil. Just before the Senate and local elections Mrs. Hybaskova accused the Civic Democratic Party of having asked for a three-million-crown bribe in a certain transaction - money which was allegedly intended for two Civic Democratic Party ministers and a deputy for that party.
Communist leader Vojtech Filip, who also met President Klaus on Thursday, said that he informed the president that his party sees a government of national unity as a way out of the political stalemate. He reiterated that the Communists are prepared to vote for a constitutional amendment allowing for early elections but he stressed it does not mean they favour such a solution. Mr Filip said the Communist Party would back a centre-left government of the Social Democrats and the Greens or a part of the Christian Democratic Party. According to the head of the Communist parliamentary party, Pavel Kovacik, the Communists will not support any kind of covert grand coalition of the Civic, Social and Christian Democrats, suggested in previous days by the Christian Democratic Party.
The arrival of first snow in the Czech Republic as well as freezing temperatures overnight have caused traffic accidents mainly on the D1 motorway between Prague and Brno as many drivers were caught off-guard. A 60-year-old man froze to death outside his house near Brno after drinking alcohol - the second victim of the season, according to the police. In previous days, snow appeared only on the mountaintops in the Czech Republic while on Thursday, larger areas across the country were covered by a thin layer.
The Czech Republic has decided to open its labour market to Romanians and Bulgarians when the two states join the European Union in January 2007. The announcement was made by outgoing Labour Minister Petr Necas who said that the Czech labour market must remain open to the newest EU members if Czechs, Poles, and other central Europeans are to gain the right to work in the western European countries where restrictions remain in effect. When the Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004, only the UK, Ireland and Sweden opened their labour markets immediately.
The outgoing cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has approved a proposal by the Interior Ministry which will allow approximately 170 people of Czech origin living in Kazakhstan to move back to the Czech Republic. Mr. Topolanek says that the program is the second part of a repatriation program begun in 1994. The Kazak-Czech families that the Ministry of the Interior intends to invite will join the approximately 650 Czechs from Kazakhstan who relocated back to the Czech Republic in the last years of the 1990s. The Ministry of Interior says that it decided to extend the resettlement invitations because economic and security conditions of ethnic Czechs in Kazakhstan have grown increasingly worse in recent years. The remaining roughly 170 people (about 50 families) comprising the Czech community in Kazakhstan are the descendents of those who left Bohemia in the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Former Social Democratic chairman and prime minister, Milos Zeman, thinks that current deputy chairman of the Social Democrats, Zdenek Skromach, would make a fine party leader. Mr. Zeman disclosed his opinion in an interview for Wednesday's edition of the daily Pravo. The former party leader also confirmed that he will not attend the Social Democratic convention at which delegates will elect a new leader. Mr. Zeman also said that negotiations about the formation of a new government are "nearly impossible," and that he is enjoying retired life in Vysocina too much to re-enter politics. Given the current state of affairs, Mr. Zeman remains convinced that a caretaker government is the best solution to the Czech political deadlock. Meanwhile, Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek is facing increasing criticism for his party's defeat in the recent Senate and local elections.
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