The leader of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek has said his party is close to signing a coalition agreement with the Christian Democrats and the Greens. After a meeting of the newly elected MPs for the Civic Democrats on Tuesday, Mr Topolanek also said his party is not considering forming a minority government tolerated by the Social Democrats, the second biggest party in parliament, but he did not rule out the possibility either. The emerging three-party coalition would be one seat short of a majority in the lower house and would need support from the opposition to win a vote of confidence in the lower house.
Czech soldiers in Iraq say security around their base close to the southern city of Basra has been worsening, with missile and mortar attacks threatening them and their mission. Military contingent commander Jiri Neubauer, whose unit has just completed its 3-month mission in Iraq, told journalists on Tuesday that tension between the different streams of Islam has made Basra the second most dangerous city after Baghdad. The Czech Republic has had a military presence in Iraq since December 2003. A Czech 100-member military police contingent operates as part of a multinational force with Danish and British soldiers.
Health Minister David Rath has issued a directive that extends the minimum daily office hours of general practitioners and dentists to seven hours. Up to date, doctors were only obliged to open their doors to patients for four hours and used the remaining time for administrative tasks or visits in patients' homes. Mr Rath says the number of doctors with short office hours is too high and hospitals have suffered as a result. While they should be attending to patients with serious medical problems, hospitals are often overwhelmed by patients with common health problems who seek their help because their doctors' offices are closed, Mr Rath says. Doctors' associations disagree with Mr Rath's decision and say it will harm the patients.
The US pop star Madonna, who will appear in the Czech Republic for the first time in Prague's Sazka Arena on September 6, will stage one more concert at the same venue a day later, the Interkoncerts agency announced on Tuesday. Madonna's first concert in Prague was sold out in a record time of less than two hours after the Sazka company launched ticket sale from its terminals at non-stop petrol stations last Thursday night. The tickets to the other concert, which cost between 3,060 to 5,010 crowns (136 to 227 dollars), will be sold in the same way. The Sazka terminals will open at 01:15 on Friday.
Czech Republic striker Milan Baros returned to full training on Tuesday after struggling with a foot injury and could play in Thursday's Group E match against Italy. Coach Karel Brueckner told reporters there was a chance Milan Baros will be fit for Thursday's match with Italy. The return of Baros would be greatly welcomed by the Czech team, who are much depleted ahead of the match, which they need to win to guarantee a place in the knock-out stage. Baros, top scorer at Euro 2004, had not trained properly since sustaining the injury in a June 3 friendly.
The Czech football player Jiri Jarosik has signed a three-year contract with the Scottish Premier League champions Glasgow Celtic. The midfielder, who is 28, joins Celtic from Chelsea, where he failed to win a place in the first team. Jarosik could well face another Czech in Glasgow's famous Old Firm derbies' Libor Sionko recently signed for Glasgow Rangers.
The current sunny and warm weather is expected to continue in the next few days, but heavy rain and occasional thunder storms have also been forecast for the beginning of the week. Daytime temperatures should reach up to 29 degrees Celsius.
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