President Vaclav Klaus is expected to meet the US President George W. Bush at the White House on Tuesday. The meeting is expected to last around thirty minutes, according to the Czech Republic's Ambassador to the United States, Martin Palous. Mr Palous did not comment on the topics to be discussed by the two presidents but called the visit a "positive signal for Czech-US relations". President Klaus is currently on a private visit to the United States, promoting his book on the Czech Republic's journey from communism to a free society.
The largest opposition party, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, have said they expect the coalition government of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to ask the lower house of parliament for confidence. Otherwise they said they will call a no-confidence vote in the government after the Easter national congress of the ruling Social Democratic Party at which Prime Minister Gross will seek election as party chairman. The Civic Democrats have been critical of the recent row within the governing coalition and suggested early elections as the only way out of it.
The government crisis had been caused by Prime Minister Gross's failure to provide a plausible explanation of how he financed a Prague apartment five years ago and how his wife funds her business. The controversies triggered a row between the two biggest coalition parties: the Christian Democrats called on the Social Democrat Prime Minister to step down and Prime Minister Gross in turn threatened to ask the President to sack the three Christian Democrat ministers. The Social Democrats now consider the government crisis to be over, after they gave the strong backing to Prime Minister Gross on Saturday and after he made a public apology for his statements in connection with the row.
The Czech Union of Nature Conservation has started a public collection towards the renewal of the Torres del Paine national park in Chile whose large part was devastated by fire, accidentally started by a Czech tourist last month. The Union said they believed that Czechs were not indifferent to the tragedy and that everyone who cared about the good name of the Czech Republic abroad would contribute at least a small amount. The Czech Republic is going to pay for an assessment study on the extent of the damage. Some 16,000 hectares of forest burnt down after a Czech tourist accidentally overturned his gas stove. The Chilean press said the park's authority was also to blame for the disaster because of its slow reaction to the fast-spreading fire.
The number of Czech tourists going abroad for their holidays this year might top four million for the first time ever, a growth of more than five percent year-on- year, the Mag Consulting agency has said. In the summer season alone, Czechs may buy 2.7 million holidays outside the Czech Republic, which is up by eight percent compared to last year. The reasons behind the increase are believed to be the rising living standard of Czechs, cheap charter flights and the strong crown. The largest number of Czech tourists (around 800,000) are expected to pick Croatia as their summer holiday destination. Holidays in Croatia are estimated to account for 20 percent of stays abroad.
The Liberal Institute think-tank has calculated that this year's "Tax Freedom Day" in the Czech Republic will fall on June 14th, which is two days earlier than in 2004. Tax Freedom Day is the day on which the average Czech taxpayer can expect to stop working for the government and begin earning money for him or herself. The Liberal Institute says that the state now plays a bigger role than five years ago when Tax Freedom Day was first calculated in the Czech Republic. The investment internet portal Patria Online which uses a different method places Tax Freedom Day on June 24th.
We can expect more overcast skies and snow in the coming days with daytime temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius.
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