November 11th, known as Remembrance Day in North America and most west European states, was marked by several ceremonies in the Czech Republic. In this country, the holiday is known as the Day for War Veterans. Formal celebrations began already on Friday, when the Czech minister of defense decorated several war veterans with medals at a ceremony in Prague Vitkov, where there is a memorial to war veterans. The Day for War Veterans - or Remembrance Day - marks the formal end of World War One in November 1918; WWI killed about ten million soldiers, and about twice as many civilians. Czechoslovakia, the predecessor state to the Czech Republic, appeared on the map of Europe for the first time as a result of the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire which disappeared after WWI.
On Saturday morning leading Social Democratic Party members met to discuss their preferred position regarding possible government coalitions. After the meeting, Social Democratic chairman Jiri Paroubek told reporters that his party still prefers a temporary minority Civic Democratic government, or a grand coalition between the right-of-centre Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats. Less attractive for the Social Democrats is the possibility of a cabinet including the Christian Democrats, though Mr. Paroubek said that if the Civic Democrats justify such an offer adequately, he is willing to negotiate.
On Monday representatives of the Social Democrats' negotiating team will meet with members of the Civic Democratic Party, which has been asked to try and form a government again in the second round of government formation talks. Mr. Paroubek says that he anticipates Monday's meeting to include several different offers from the Civic Democrats.
As government coalition negotiations led by Prime Minister and Civic Democratic chairman Mirek Topolanek are underway, Saturday's edition of the daily Lidove Noviny reports that a possible three-party arrangement between the Civic Democrats, the Social Democrats, and the Christian Democrats could be viable. Such a government could reportedly stay in place until early elections in June 2008, or later. According to the paper, Mr. Topolanek discussed such an option with the Christian Democrats on Friday, although no one present at the meeting has confirmed details.
Mr. Topolanek is scheduled to meet with both the Social Democrats and the Green Party's representatives on Monday.
The former Social Democratic Health Minister David Rath reportedly granted his closest co-workers bonuses of up to half a million crowns (nearly $23 000 US) before leaving his post. Mr. Rath distributed nearly 11 million crowns (over $501 000 US) in bonuses during the first half of 2006 to 27 of his closest associates. Saturday's edition of the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes writes that although Mr. Rath says the figure is reasonable, the Ministry of Health may have to increase its annual budget in order to pay-out the bonuses.
About 100 skinheads gathered in Hlucin, north Moravia, late Saturday afternoon to mark the 31st anniversary of the death of Spain's long-time Fascist leader, Francisco Franco. According to CTK, most of the demonstration's participants were in their mid-teens, some even younger. The demonstrators lit candles on the steps of the community center, and made a few short speeches. Police report that there were no violent clashes.
Czech football captain Tomas Rosicky has suffered a hamstring injury and will definitely be sidelined in Wednesday's upcoming friendly international against Denmark in Prague. Rosicky acquired the injury during training with Premier league club Arsenal on Thursday; according to Arsenal's website, the midfielder could be out for about 10 days. Tomas Rosicky is the third star Czech player to be hampered by injury this season; goalie Petr Cech and striker Jan Koller are also currently recovering from injuries.
Weekend weather is expected to see rain showers in most parts of the country, with daytime highs of just 6 degrees Celsius.
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