Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has for the first time admitted he might step down to allow the formation of a new government with a different leader. Mr Gross's government currently hangs by a thread, ravaged by the loss of its majority and the resignation of five ministers and more threatening to follow after a row in the ruling coalition over the prime minister's private finances boiled over. Mr Gross offered his resignation after a meeting of his leftist Social Democrats but said he would resign only if such an agreement on a new administration could be reached with the rightist Freedom Union and centrist Christian Democrats.
President Vaclav Klaus has warned against attempts at re-writing history and changes in the perception of WWII. Addressing a crowd of former Nazi camp inmates at a ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the uprising in the Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald, President Klaus said that new reconciliation gestures that are being required from the Czechs place the culprits and the victims of the war on the same level or switch one for another. President Klaus urged people the be cautious of such attitudes, adding that the lessons we learn from the past will determine the future we will be living in. Painter Josef Capek and journalist Ferdinand Peroutka were among the thousands of Czechs jailed at Buchenwald during WWII.
The acquisition of Cesky Telecom by the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica and its further ambitions in Europe have drawn mixed reviews from market analysts, the AFP agency wrote. The ratings agency Standard and Poor's said the price of 3.5 billion dollars agreed upon for Cesky Telecom was high in light of the latter's limited growth prospects and the absence of major cost advantages. On the other hand, an analyst at the Belgian-Dutch bank and insurance group Fortis described the purchase of Cesky Telecom as a positive step in a country "that is going to be one of the principal beneficiaries" of EU cohesion funding following its admission last May to the European Union. Telefonica head Cesar Alierta last November expressed a desire "to create the world's largest and best integrated company" in the telecommunications sector.
A British taxi company has begun actively recruiting drivers in the Czech Republic due to a shortage of applicants in the United Kingdom. Station Taxis, which is based in Darlington, County Durham, has even set up a training school in Prague. Three Czech drivers are now working for the British firm and another four are expected to arrive in the U.K. by the end of the month.
The Czech Minister for Legislation, an independent nominated by the ruling
Social Democrats, tendered his resignation on Wednesday, making good on
promise of last week to quit the Cabinet should all ministers not agree to
step down en masse by this time. Jaroslav Bures is the fifth minister to
resign from government in recent days.
The ministers of foreign affairs, the environment and transport -- all three Christian Democrats -- quit last week, after their party left the governing coalition of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross. They did so in protest of Mr Gross' failure to explain away allegations of questionable family business dealings. The Minister of Informatics, Vladimir Mlynar, resigned after Mr Gross survived a related no-confidence vote on Friday, thanks onlt to the abstention of Communist deputies.
Meanwhile, the ministers of justice and defence, like Mr Mlyar, both members of the centre-right Freedom Union party, have said they will remain in the government until at least next week when Prime Minister Gross is expected to decide about a collective resignation of the Cabinet.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross wants to link a confidence vote in his Cabinet to a bill on lower taxes. The news has evoked strong criticism from the President and the opposition Civic Democrats. President Klaus said this strategy would amount to an unacceptable delay in holding the vote. The opposition Civic Democrats said that not even the best possible law could compensate for the Prime Minister's lack of credibility.
At 61 percent, the Czech public's satisfaction with the economy is at its highest level in eight years, according to a mid-February poll by the CVVM agency. The last time the public had been so optimistic in this regards was in 1997, following a package of austerity measures adopted by the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, the current Czech president. The CVVM poll found that just over one year ago, in January 2004, only 41 percent of the Czech public was satisfied with how the economy.
The Czech Republic has among the highest number of women in the workplace in the whole of European Union, the daily Pravo reports, citing a newly released study. Some 44 percent of Czech women of working age are employed or self-employed, it said, and only Finland, Lithuania and Romania have a higher percentage of women in the workplace.
President Vaclav Klaus said on Monday he would not accept the resignations
of the four ministers who have given notice in recent days, until it
becomes clear exactly which other ministers intend to remain in the
The Minister of Information Technology, Vladimir Mlynar, tendered his resignation on Saturday, following the results of a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Stanislav Gross the previous day. The ministers of foreign affairs, the environment, and transportation resigned early last week when their party, the Christian Democrats, withdrew from the governing coalition in protest over Mr Gross' refusal to step down following the release of controversial information about his personal finances and the business dealings of his wife.
Mr Mlynar, a member of the centre-right Freedom Union, said he would not remain in a government that relied on the tacit support of the Communists; Mr Gross survived the no-confidence vote only because the Communist deputies abstained from it. The prime minister has promised to call for a parliamentary vote of confidence in the minority government he now leads, but a date for this vote has not yet been set.
President Vaclav Klaus told journalists on Monday that calls to link that vote with the passage of certain legislation would amount to an unacceptable delay in holding the vote, of perhaps months.
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