The Social Democrats are divided over whether or not to take part in a
new coalition government that is being proposed by the Civic Democrats.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek says some deputies would prefer
the party go into opposition - a move he strongly rejects.
The Civic Democratic Party hopes to complete its draft government programme by next Wednesday. Representatives from the parties involved in government talks, also including the Christian Democrats and the Greens, will then be given the document for assessment.
Turkmen authorities have grounded a plane with Czech Army representatives, saying it was not authorised to fly over its airspace. The military delegation was returning from Afghanistan where Czech military personnel officially took over command at the international airport in Kabul. Among those on board were chief-of-staff General Pavel Stefka and deputy defence minister Martin Bartak. Turkmenistan lies between Afghanistan and the Caspian Sea.
A referendum held in the northern town of Litvinov on the extension of brown coal mining limits is invalid due to a low voter turnout. Only 38 percent of the electorate came to vote on Friday. An almost absolute majority (95 percent), though, voted against the extension. The geographical limits of North Bohemia's opencast mines were set by the state in 1991. The local opencast mining company Mostecka Uhelna argues that the country has no choice but to extend the limits if it wants to depend on locally produced energy.
The Social Democrats have called on to President Vaclav Klaus not to pardon two men accused of breaking business confidentiality laws. The President has been asked to grant the pardon by the Finance Ministry as the two men are senior managers at the Nomura investment group, a bank with which cabinet settled a long running dispute that could have cost the state billions of crowns on Thursday.
The deputy chairman of the Communist Party, Vaclav Exner, has been relieved of his post. Mr Exner and another party member (since deceased) were entrusted with the legal work involving the sale of the building housing party headquarters and the acquisition of new property. After deciding to stay in the old headquarters, the party will most likely lose 60 million crowns (over 2.5 million US dollars) - a 40 million fine for not going through with the sale and a 20 million deposit to guarantee the acquisition. The party holds Mr Exner responsible, saying the contracts he had closed were disadvantageous for the party.
Two Czech soldiers from a Prostejov Special Forces unit, who recently served in Afghanistan, have been awarded with the United States Armed Forces Bronze Star Medal. The soldiers received the military decoration for their heroic fight against the Taliban. This is the first time in modern Czech history that such a US decoration is awarded to a Czech soldier.
Saturday's ceremony to mark the Czech takeover of command at Kabul
international airport had to be held fifty kilometres away. Due to
strong invisibility, a plane carrying a Czech Army delegation to the
event was rerouted to a US base in Bagram where the ceremony took place
under improvised conditions.
Specialists in the Czech contingent will operate at Kabul airport for the next four months. It is the first command held by the Czechs within the ISAF. The Czech contingent is made up 47 members of the Czech Army, including specialists on air control, flight security, and logistics. In all, about 500 soldiers and specialists from about 20 NATO members and Afghanistan are serving under the command at Kabul airport.
Some forty horses, 600 guns, and 300kg of gunpowder were used in Saturday's 2-hour re-enactment of one of Napoleon's most famous victories. Visitors in the south Bohemian village of Tvarozna saw how French troops used complicated military strategy to defend Pratec hill in one of the final phases of the Battle of Three Emperors, in which Napoleon defeated the Austrian and Russian armies on December 2nd, 1805. Some 40,000 people lost their lives during the battle, which was fought in the nearby south Moravian town of Slavkov, better known by its German name, Austerlitz.
A Finnish diplomatic source has said that the Czech Republic and other EU member states that joined in 2004, may join the Schengen zone as early as one year's time or early 2008. The Schengen zone harmonises external EU borders while dismantling internal border controls. Delays with the Schengen information system had suggested the Czechs' and others' joining of the zone could be pushed back as late as 2009.
The right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, leading negotiations in the
second attempt to form a government since inconclusive elections in June,
has said it hopes to complete a draft policy programme by Wednesday
next week. The announcement was made on Friday by deputy party chairman
Petr Necas, who said that the programme would then be assessed by
representatives from the four parties in negotiations.
It has not been decided whether all of the parties, the Civic, Social and Christian Democrats, as well as the Greens, will be represented in the future government.
So far, representatives though have agreed on the programme being divided in the following areas for discussion: public finances and taxes; social policy and pension reform; health care; entrepreneurship; security and anti-corruption measures; and the EU presidency and EU funds.
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