President Vaclav Klaus is on an official three-day visit to neighbouring Slovakia, where he has been meeting with the country's top officials. The two countries have exceptionally close relations since Czechs and Slovaks spent 73 years in a federal state before breaking up and going their separate ways 14 years ago. The president is accompanied by his wife Livia, who herself is Slovak.
The new cabinet is expected to present its policy programme to the lower house next Wednesday. On the same day the speaker of the lower house Miloslav Vlcek will resign from his post. Before his election to the post of speaker Mr. Vlcek pledged to fill the post on a temporary basis. That was because it is the speaker of the lower house who would have the task of selecting a prime minister designate for the third attempt should the centre right government fail to win its confidence vote next Friday. As a Social Democrat, Mr Vlcek's choice would be open to allegations of a party bias. The parliamentary parties will now need to reach some kind of consensus on who should succeed Mr. Vlcek.
I Served the King of England, the new film by Czech director Jiri Menzel, goes on general release in the Czech Republic on Thursday. The film, based on the novel of the same name by Bohumil Hrabal, tells the story of a Czech waiter from the inter-war period, through World War II up until the 1960s. Menzel, who has made several adaptations of works by Hrabal, fought a ten-year-legal battle for the film rights. His most famous Hrabal movie is Closely Observed Trains which won an Oscar in 1967.
The ruling centre-right coalition will seek a vote of confidence in the
lower house of Parliament next Friday, according to the speaker of the
lower house Miloslav Vlcek. The government of the Civic Democrats, the
Christian Democrats and the Green Party, which was appointed on Tuesday,
holds only half of the 200 seats in the lower house of Parliament and
needs at least one vote from a Communist or a Social Democrat deputy.
Though the leaders of both parties have said they would not support the coalition, two Social Democrat MPs - Milos Melcak and Michal Pohanka - have not made it clear whether they share their party's official stance. Prime Minister Topolanek has sent all Social Democratic Party deputies in the lower house a letter asking them to support his cabinet or tolerate it by absenting themselves from the vote.
The Green Party says it wants to re-open debate on the relocation of a pig farm built on the site of a former concentration camp for Romanies in Lety, south Bohemia. The Lety pig farm is a long-standing problem which past governments failed to resolve. Several alternatives were considered in the past including the purchase of the farm by the state and its subsequent removal. None of the suggestions were taken up because they were allegedly all too costly. Romany organizations have been calling for the farm's relocation for many years. According to historical documents over 300 people died in the camp and 500 of its inmates ended up in the extermination camp at Auschwitz.
In a live televised discussion with representatives of the three parties
in the new government, Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said his party
would neither tolerate nor support the coalition with a confidence vote.
The government of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the
Green Party, which was appointed on Tuesday, has to gain a vote of
confidence within the next month. But it holds only half of the 200 seats
in the lower house of Parliament and needs at least one vote from a
Communist or a Social Democrat deputy.
Though the leaders of both parties have said they would not support the coalition, two Social Democrat MPs - Milos Melcak and Michal Pohanka - have not made it clear whether they share their party's official stance.
The newly appointed minister without portfolio hopes a new institution will help prevent the formation of ghettos. Dzamila Stehlikova of the Green Party, who is also responsible for minority and human rights issues, says the creation of such an institution and the introduction of an antidiscrimination law would be her priorities. It is estimated that up to 80,000 of the country's population of ten million live in ghettos or under poor social conditions.
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