Daily news summary News

01-07-2004

Prime Minister Spidla tenders resignation to President Klaus

It's official: President Vaclav Klaus on Thursday accepted the resignation of now former prime minister Vladimir Spidla, although for the time being, Mr Klaus has asked him and the Social Democrat-led government to remain in power as "administrators."

"I have accepted Mr. Spidla's resignation and have requested him and the current cabinet to continue as an interim government, until a new one is formed. Although this government failed to live out its four-year term, I would like to thank Mr. Spidla for his efforts in a difficult task of leading a fragile, coalition government."

Mr Spidla's resignation came after his party's defeat in the elections to the European Parliament prompted him to call a vote of confidence as Social Democrat party chairman, which he narrowly won.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr Spidla said he was proud of what his government had accomplished: "In the last two years, the government has done a good deal of work and I think we have nothing to be ashamed of. My sole aim has been to serve the Czech Republic in these serious matters."

President Klaus named Mr Spidla as interim head of the Ministry of Justice, at his request. The cabinet-level position has been vacant since June. Mr Spidla said he would remain active in politics but declined to comment Thursday on speculation that he could become the next speaker of Parliament or European Commissioner in Brussels, if acting Social Democrat party chairman Stanislav Gross is named prime minister.

The Social Democrats have the greatest number of seats in Parliament, but President Klaus is not obliged to tap Mr Gross as prime minister. He said Thursday after meeting with three parliamentary parties' leaders that none of the proposals submitted to him offered a complete solution to the government crisis, but that he would make a decision on who should form a new cabinet in a couple of days.

Lower House approves deployment of anti-chemical troops to Athens Olympics

The lower house of the Parliament has agreed to send some 100 soldiers to Greece to be part of the security force at the upcoming Olympic Games in Athens. If the plan is approved by the Senate, the soldiers specialised in anti-biological and chemical warfare would be stationed in Greece from July 28 to September 30 at a total cost of 30.3 million Czech crowns (some one million Euros), to be covered by the Czech Republic, Greece, and the NATO military alliance. A Czech anti-chemical unit helped train 48 Greek soldiers in June, in order to help optimize security during the Olympic Games.

Elephant at Usti nad Labem zoo delivers stillborn calf

The chief zookeeper in Usti nad Labem has announced that the Indian elephant known as Delhi, who was artificially inseminated in September, 2002, delivered a stillborn male calf on Thursday. Elephants have an exceptionally long gestation period and Delhi had been pregnant 22 months. She went into labour on Sunday. Specialists from the Berlin Animal Research Institute, who had inseminated Delhi with the sperm of an elephant in Great Britain, said that the natural birth showed that Delhi is able to give birth naturally and can be inseminated again in two or three years.

Czech team loses 1:0 to Greece in Euro 2004 semi-finals

Greek striker Traianos Dellas headed in Vassilios Tsiartas' brilliant corner kick past the Czech goalie, Petr Cech, to score a "silver goal" in the final seconds (105th minute) of the first overtime period. The Greeks won 1:0 and now will face host nation Portugal in the final match of Euro 2004. Under the silver goal rule, a team is declared the winner of the match if they go into the half-time interval in extra time with a lead.

After a bright start in the first half, the Czechs were increasingly shackled by the Greek side's tough defence, and handicapped with their inspirational captain Pavel Nedved off the pitch at halftime through injury. He was replaced by Vladimir Smicer.

The second half of the match was marked by tight defence on the Greek side, with Czech star Milan Baros shadowed relentlessly, and lots of fouls committed on both sides — the Czechs racked up 24 and the Greeks 15. Possession time was evenly split, but the Czechs had eight corners and the Greeks only four. Altogether, the Czechs had 16 shots on goal and the Greeks nine.

With both sides looking exhausted, the Greeks were able to rally in the last 10 minutes of the first overtime period, with nearly as many shots on goal as in the regular 90 minutes of play.

Weather

Friday should be cool and cloudy, with scattered showers and a high of 20 degrees Celsius.

01-07-2004