Around a hundred Czech soldiers have returned from a six-month KFOR mission in Kosovo. The rest of the Czech contingent will follow later. The task of the Czech troops was to ensure security, aid the local and international police, search for illegal weapons and prevent ethnic conflicts in the region.
Prime Minister and Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek has said his party should hold an extraordinary congress if his second government does not win confidence in the lower house. Speaking in a televised debate on Sunday, Mr Topolanek said the delegates should then set new terms for negotiations on forming a cabinet. Mr Topolanek also said he was prepared to ask the lower house for a confidence vote before the 30-day deadline set by the constitution.
Monday's edition of Mlada fronta Dnes writes that the Czechoslovak Hussite Church has been rocked by a sex scandal. According to the paper, its Prague bishop allegedly demanded sexual favours from a 27-year-old man whom the cleric had been helping to return to normal life after serving a prison sentence. The daily writes that part of the clergy and church members are demanding the 55-year old priest to resign. The Czechoslovak Hussite Church is a reformed Christian church which separated from the Roman Catholic Church in 1920.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has said he will appoint a new government led
by Civic Democrat Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek on Tuesday, seven months
after inconclusive national elections. Mr Topolanek has formed a
three-party coalition with the centrist Christian Democrats, the Green
Party and his own right-of-centre Civic Democrats but the grouping has
only 100 votes in the 200-seat lower house. Prime Minister Topolanek said
earlier he would offer his resignation if the coalition fails to win a
confidence vote, which must be called within 30 days of the government
being appointed. Mr Topolanek's first - minority Civic Democrat -
government lost a confidence vote in October.
President Klaus earlier expressed objections to the three-party coalition because, he said, it would have to rely on Social Democrat or Communist Party deserters to win a confidence vote. He also opposed the Green Party's nomination of long-time exiled senator Karel Schwarzenberg as foreign minister, fearing that his close links to neighbouring Austria would prevent him from championing Czech interests. Mr Topolanek has also come under fire from within his own party ranks for allocating more than half the cabinet posts to junior coalition partners.
The Green party is ready to negotiate about the future of nuclear power in the Czech Republic, the party's candidate for education minister in the new government, Dana Kuchtova, said on Monday. However, Ms Kuchtova denied speaking about the closure of the Czech Temelin nuclear power plant in the near future in an interview for an Austrian local newspaper. That, Ms Kuchtova said, would be politically unrealistic. The chairman of the Green Party, Martin Bursik, confirmed that the Greens will not try and push through the closure of Temelin in the four-year term of the coalition cabinet.
Prime Minister and Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek has said his party should hold an extraordinary congress if his second government does not win confidence in the lower house. Mr Topolanek also said he was prepared to ask the lower house for a confidence vote before the 30-day deadline set by the constitution.
The outgoing Foreign Minister, Alexandr Vondra, says the policy statement of the new cabinet of Mirek Topolanek will most likely not include any definitive stance on the European constitution and its ratification. Mr Vondra who has been nominated for the post of deputy Prime Minister for European affairs in the new cabinet, added that a timetable will most likely be approved during Germany's presidency of the EU specifying further negotiations on the document. Mr Vondra's proposed successor, Karel Schwarzenberg, says it is vital for the EU to have a constitutional treaty. The Czech President Vaclav Klaus, however, in his New Year's address, warned against efforts to revive the European Union constitution under Germany's presidency.
The first unit of the Temelin nuclear plant in South Bohemia has been reconnected to the national grid after it was shut down temporarily for routine tests early on Saturday morning. The equipment has been tested once a month since mid last year when the Czech Republic's nuclear authority issued an order to that effect. The Temelin plant, which went into operation in 2000, has been the subject of fierce criticism in neighbouring Austria which says the plant, combining Soviet design and Western operating technology, is unsafe.
Social Democrat chairman and former prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, says his party needs to modernise and open itself to the public. Speaking on Saturday at regional conferences ahead of the March party congress, Mr Paroubek said the party's should revitalise and rejuvenate at all levels as soon as possible. Mr Paroubek also said he would like to see the percentage of women in the 17,000-member party increase. He reiterated the Social Democrats, who came second in last year's general elections, are not going to support the proposed centre-right cabinet of Mirek Topolanek in a confidence vote. The South and Karlovy Vary regional branches of the Social Democratic Party on Saturday pledged support for Mr Paroubek for the upcoming party congress which will elect a new party chief.
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