A poll conducted by the STEM agency in September has shown that the opposition Social Democrats have overtaken their rival - the ruling Civic Democratic party - in popularity. 28.7% of those questioned said they would vote for the party in comparison to 27% of respondents, who were in favour of the Civic Democrats. The Social Democrats have gone in front of the Civic Democrats for the first time since December 2002.
In related news, the Czech Supreme Audit Office has uncovered serious shortcomings in a project of educational website funded by the Education Ministry. According to the audit, the quality of the website for schools does not correspond to sum of 26 million crowns the Education Ministry received for its establishment. The information provided by the website is already available at the ministry's home pages. The head of the Czech Supreme Office, Frantisek Dohnal, said the audit didn't uncover any violation of the law. He added, however, that the web-site was an ineffective spending of public money and had no use to schools.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus has written to the opposition leader Jiri Paroubek, saying that he wouldn't advocate extremist views at the UN conference on climate change next week but he would "call for reason and serious attitude." Former Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek urged Mr Klaus in an open letter not to present his private opinion on climate change, as they could be interpreted as the official stand of the Czech Republic. Vaclav Klaus said he wanted to warn against ill-considered campaigns and fashionable rumours since they imply measures that can fatally harm human freedom and affect the world economy.
Czech Senate deputy chairman Petr Pithart of the Christian Democrats, who was considered to be nominated as a possible presidential candidate by his party, has decided not to run for the post. Mr Pithart told the Czech Press Agency today he didn't want to join an election race that was "lost beforehand". The smaller parties in government as well as the opposition Social Democrats have been discussing the possibility of fielding a joint-candidate to run against current president, Vaclav Klaus.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said he was not going to dismiss the Education Minister Dana Kuchtova for the time being. He argued that the problems with drawing money from EU funds arose under the previous Social Democratic government. Mr Topolanek said that the Minister's fate depended on whether she would be able to meet the EU deadlines, which are set for mid-October.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari arrived in Prague on Monday for a
three-day visit to the Czech Republic. He is scheduled to sign an agreement
of cooperation with his Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg. Mr Zebari
said Iraq would welcome if the Czech Republic could continue in training
the Iraqi police and wanted to discuss the issue during his visit to
Some hundred members of the Czech military police trained several thousands of Iraqi border police and customs officials in Iraq from December 2003 until January 2007. Mr Zebari said it was vital for Iraqis to be able to provide for their security in their own right and added that a premature withdrawal of the U.S. troops from Iraq could have a devastating effect on the country.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus paid a visit to former Czech prime minister Milos Zeman on Sunday at Mr Zeman's home in the Vysocina region between Bohemia and Moravia. Milos Zeman said they had, among other things, discussed the issue of global warming. He said he agreed with Vaclav Klaus that human activity has no influence on this phenomenon.
The Education Ministry redrafted its application for drawing money from EU
funds over the weekend. The Minister of Education Dana Kuchtova of the
Green Party has recently been facing calls to resign over her failure to
obtain EU funds of around 60 billion crowns (30 billion US dollars) for
research and educational programmes.
Chairman of the Green Party Martin Bursik admitted on Sunday that the minister may resign in the coming days. He said Ms Kuchtova would remain in the office if she convinced him that the problems preventing the use of the funds could be rectified. The European Commission is to decide on the programme by the 12th of October.
Opponents of a proposed US radar base in the Czech Republic have announced
that they will be holding an international demonstration against the
construction of the facility in the Brdy region, the projected location of
the base. A spokeswoman for the "No to Bases" movement said that
the protest will take place on 20 October and that delegations from Great
Britain, Portugal, Hungary, Italy, Spain, France, Greece, Switzerland,
Belgium, Germany, the United States and Sweden would be attending the
event. Invitees include the mayor of Hiroshima Tadatoshi Akiba and the
mayor of London Ken Livingstone.
The proposed US radar base in the central Bohemian Brdy region is intended as part of a American missile defence system aimed at countering possible attacks from so-called rogue states such as Iran. Polls show that a majority of Czechs are against the proposal even though it has the tentative support of the centre-right government. A final decision on the base is expected early next year.
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