A planned round of talks on a new government was called off on Tuesday after the two strongest parties on the Czech political scene failed to reach agreement on who should attend. Prime minister designate Mirek Topolanek and the outgoing prime minister Jiri Paroubek are trying to reach agreement on the conditions under which Mr. Paroubek's Social Democrats would be prepared to tolerate a minority Civic Democrat government. The conditions discussed include the set-up of the future government, its policy programme and its term in office. The Social Democrat leader, whose position was bolstered by the even division of forces between the left and right parties in the lower house, stalked out of Monday's talks saying there would be no further negotiations with the Civic Democrats but later changed his mind after what he described a s a conciliatory gesture from the winning party. The prime minister designate Mirek Topolanek said the negotiations with the Social Democrats should not last longer than a fortnight - with or without a deal.
Meanwhile, the Christian Democrats one of the smaller parties who have had to take a back-seat after the Social Democrats refused to support a centre-right coalition government said they were ready to go into the opposition. Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek said his party would not support a minority Civic Democrat government because under the present circumstances such an arrangement was really a thinly veiled grand coalition. The Green Party - which was likewise forced out of the talks on a new government - has not ruled out switching allegiances and supporting a minority Social Democrat government should such a situation arise.
Hundreds of Greek and foreign tourists, including many Czechs, were evacuated from two hotels in northern Greece because of a forest fire, which broke out on Monday. About 90 Czech children spent the night on a beach as the flames were progressing towards their hotel. According to the Czech Foreign Ministry, all Czech nationals in the area are safe. A decision is imminent on whether to bring them back home and busses are on standby for that purpose.
Czech born Lebanese designer Bianka Matragi has appealed to the Czech public to help the people of Lebanon restore their war-torn country. Mz. Matragi has opened a bank account for public donations and she intends to donate the proceeds of her autumn fashion show in Prague to the same cause.
Czech Airlines reported widening losses on Tuesday. Its first half losses widened to 773 million koruna (27.5 million euros, 35.4 million dollars) from 533 million koruna in the same period last year. The company is now expecting a shortfall of 17.5 million koruna for the full year, equal to its 2005 loss, according to company chairman Radomir Lasak. Lasak ascribed the company's problems to a recent dramatic surge in capacity undertaken in the absence of preparation and necessary restructuring, rather than to a hike in oil prices. The airline is hoping to return to profit in 2008 following a sweeping restructuring which has been in place since the start of the year. The initiative calls for a 10 to 20 percent reduction in personnel.
World number nine Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic confirmed Tuesday that he will not be playing in the US Open because of a back injury. "It's over for the US Open and it seems the break could be even longer," the player told the CTK news agency. Stepanek, 27, has a 30-15 record this season, winning his first ATP title in Rotterdam, and reaching the finals in Hamburg and Wimbledon quarter-finals. A question remains over his participation in the Davis Cup World Group playoff tie against the Netherlands from September 22-24.
The next few days should be partly cloudy with daytime highs between 19 and 21 degrees Celsius.
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