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05-06-2005

Czech President sees no point in continuing ratification process

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has stressed that, in his view, there is no point in continuing with the ratification of the current version of the European constitution following its rejection by France and the Netherlands. Speaking on a TV discussion programme on Sunday the president suggested, for example, that an alternative text be found, one that - in his view - did not "infringe on peoples' lives". While opposed to the constitution treaty, Mr Klaus said he would not veto any move by the Czech government and Parliament to hold a referendum to ratify the document.

Following the two "No" votes last week Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek emphasised that the ratification process should continue in remaining countries.

Paroubek aims to broaden ratification "debate"

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said he will aim to discuss ratification of the EU constitution with both opposition parties, the Civic Democrats and the Communists. On Sunday he said that both supporters and opponents of the treaty will be invited to take part in the first phase of a planned information campaign. A meeting of Social Democrat and Civic Democrat leaders has been set for Monday. Unlike the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, the Communist Party wants the information campaign to go ahead in the Czech Republic, although party members are undecided as to whether or not the ratification process should be suspended. The prime minister has indicated the campaign would be launched after the mid-June EU summit, set to discuss further steps following the French and Dutch votes.

The government will earmark a total of 200 million crowns (over 8 million US dollars) for the campaign on the EU constitution.

Nedelni svet: Hojdar in danger of being expelled from the Social Democratic Party

The Sunday paper Nedelni svet has written in its latest edition that Social Democrat MP and head of the Parliamentary Committee for the Economy Josef Hojdar is in danger of being expelled from party ranks. The paper outlines two reasons, one being a procedural mistake in Mr Hojdar's election as head of the party district branch in the north-west Bohemian town of Most; the second is opposition within his party to the Social Democrats' so-called left-wing faction, of which Mr Hojdar is a part. Nedelni svet quotes one Social Democrat as blaming Mr Hojdar for helping to bring down former prime ministers Vladimir Spidla and Stanislav Gross. The paper writes that if Mr Hojdar is expelled it could threaten the stability of the government which would lose its slim one-vote majority in the Lower House.

Football: Czech "demolition" of Andorra sees new records set

The Czech Republic's demolition of Andorra in World Cup qualifying on Saturday saw a number of new team records set, not least the record for highest number of goals in a single match. A Czech national football side had never before scored 8 goals in a game: the closest it came was twice in the 1920s, both times hitting 7 goals against former Yugoslavia.

Saturday's qualifier saw striker Jan Koller also set a new record for most goals scored by a player for the national team (breaking the 34 mark set by the legendary Antonin Puc), while team captain Tomas Galasek scored his first international goal in 43 starts.

Despite the win, the Czechs remain 2nd in their qualifying group, one point behind the Netherlands, whose team defeated Romania on Saturday by a score of 2:0.

Weather

The coming days should see mixed weather with light showers and some sunny periods. Temperatures are expected to hold at highs of about 20 degrees Celsius.

05-06-2005