Czech President Vaclav Klaus has called a meeting that should discuss the country's foreign policy. He has invited Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexandr Vondra to Prague Castle for Tuesday. A spokesman said the meeting will discuss the priorities and coordination of Czech foreign policy.
The Czech Statistical Office has announced Czech industrial output rose by 7.6 percent in November on a year-on-year comparison after 12.8 percent in October. Output was 0.7 percent higher in November compared with the October figure, when the month-on-month rise was 1.2 percent. The transport equipment sector contributed most to the annual rise in production with output up 16.5 percent, followed by electrical and optical equipment, up 13.1 percent. The manufacture of basic metals and metal products fell by 2.2 percent over the year, the office added.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg says the Czech Republic supports Ukraine's bid to join the EU and NATO. Mr Schwarzenberg made the statement on Monday after meeting his Ukrainian counterpart Borys Tarasyuk in Prague. The two ministers also signed a declaration on further cooperation between the two countries concerning foreign policy issues, agriculture and nuclear safety.
Prime Minister and Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek has met several Social Democrat MPs to discuss the policy statement of his new coalition government that is to ask for a confidence vote this Friday. Civic Democrat MP Petr Tluchor, who also took part in the talks on Monday, would not disclose the number or names of the Social Democrat deputies present at the meeting. However, Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek said in a statement on Monday afternoon he did not know about any such MPs. The centre-right coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens has only 100 votes in the 200-seat lower house of parliament. Without the backing or tolerance from the opposition ranks it does not have a chance to win confidence from the chamber.
Czech airline CSA announces it carried about 5.5 million passengers in 2006, 4.7 percent more than in the previous year. The number of passengers on scheduled flights rose on a year-on-year comparison by 3.4 percent to reach 4.7 million with charter passengers up 13 percent to nearly 800,000. CSA, the biggest airline in Central Europe, increased the number of flights by 1.1 percent last year to total 39,000.
A new poll by the SC&C agency suggests that two thirds of Czechs wish that President Vaclav Klaus be re-elected for a second term as head of state. According to the poll, President Klaus, who is 65, enjoys the strongest support among voters of the current centre-right government coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens. Women, people with university education and younger people prevail among his supporters. The Czech President is elected by both houses of parliament. The next election is to be held in early 2008.
Cross-country skier and Olympic gold medal winner Katerina Neumannova was named sportsperson of the year on Sunday evening at a special awards ceremony in Prague. Ms Neumannova was top choice by Czech journalists in the prestigious poll, earning more than 1800 points. Ice hockey star Jaromir Jagr came second in the poll, more than 400 points behind, while cross-country skier and Olympic silver medalist Lukas Bauer was third. In 2006 Neumannova triumphed in the 30 kilometre cross-country race at the Turin Olympics.
Trade and Industry Minister Martin Riman says that by 2010, more than eight percent of the energy consumed in the Czech Republic could be produced from renewable sources. Mr Riman said the country would therefore meet EU requirements. The share of so-called "green energy" on the Czech market was 4.5 percent in 2006.
At 19, Martina Sablikova has become the youngest competitor to ever win the European Speed Skating Championship combined events title. On Sunday the nineteen-year old skater set a new world record in the 5,000 metres, earning a time of 6:58:45 which helped her cut a lead by the Netherlands' Ireen Wust. Sablikova has proven to be a specialist in longer formats: in the 500 metre event earlier on she finished ninth; on Saturday she also won the 3,000 metre event in which she also set a new world record.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek has expressed the conviction that none of his party's MPs will back the country's newly-appointed government in an upcoming confidence vote. In his view, even MP Milos Melcak, who has remained "undecided", will in the end choose not to back or tolerate the centre-right coalition. On Saturday Mr Melcak indicated he might abstain from voting. Prime Minister Topolanek's centre-right government needs support from at least one opposition MP in order to remain in power, and some Civic Democrats have speculated that as many as seven opposition MPs could back the government. But, such claims have been rejected by Jiri Paroubek and others. At the weekend Mr Paroubek recommended that if any of his party's MPs did break ranks during Friday's vote, they should leave the party or risk expulsion.
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