Speculation surrounding opposition agreement
There is growing speculation around the upcoming meeting of Civic and Social Democrat leaders after deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic Party Miroslav Benes said his party had launched steps to end the opposition agreement which is vital to the existence of the minority Social Democrat government. No other party official has been willing to confirm his words or comment in any way, but two high placed Social Democrat officials have said they are not ruling out a grand coalition. Meanwhile, the four right wing opposition parties linked in a loose alliance, say neither option will materialize and claim that the Civic and Social Democrats are bluffing to buy themselves more time.
The foreign ministers of 6 EU candidate countries met in the Estonian capital Tallinn on Monday to coordinate foreign policy steps less than 48 hours before the EU publishes its annual report on their individual progress. Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia and Cyprus debated the mechanism of bilateral consultations with the union, internal EU reform as well as foreign policy and security matters in the light of EU membership. In response to a Czech request, the EU report to be published on Wednesday is expected to include target dates for the conclusion of talks with individual candidates. The Czech Republic, which is bracing for another critical report this year has promised to respond with concrete measures and personnel changes.
The Czech Republic is re-imposing visas on Cuban, Cambodian and North Korean nationals. Contrary to expectations the Cabinet failed to approve a visa regime for Russia, Belarus, and China. Premier Zeman later explained that the Cabinet's decision was based on the need to protect economic interests.
The ultra right Republican party of Miroslav Sladek has confirmed an upcoming visit by Jean Marie Le Pen, leader of the ultra right National Front in France, who is expected to arrive on Thursday and spend 48 hours in the Czech Republic. Sladek, whose party lost its foothold on the Czech political scene after failing to cross the 5% support margin necessary for seats in Parliament , said the aim of the meeting was to help unite all European patriots against growing pressure from supra-national forces. The two parties have similar political programs curbing the influx of foreigners and refugees, what they call direct democracy and re-introducing the death penalty.
The first day of the Forum 2,000 conference here in Prague focussed on the future of Third world countries. The crown prince of Jordan Hassan Bin Talal, who opened the debate, told delegates from around the world that the key to the survival of humankind was in overcoming political, cultural and religious barriers in the knowledge that we are all part of the globalization process. He called for a form of coexistence which would preserve cultural, religious and ideological identities. The Forum 2,000 Conference is an annual event held at Prague Castle under the auspices of President Havel .
Swedish police have smashed a sex slave ring which forced women from the Czech Republic and other post-communist states into prostitution. The ring was discovered after a young Czech woman phoned her mother in the Czech Republic saying she was being forced to prostitute herself and was being held hostage. Acting on the information Swedish police found a number of women being held in a hotel for refugees, among them three Czech girls. As many as 25 girls are believed to have been forced into prostitution. Four people have reportedly been arrested and charged.
The winner of Czech Press Photo 1999 is Jan Sibik from Reflex magazine. The winning photo shows Kosovo refugees fleeing for their lives. Sibik has worked in Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Turkey, Romania and Jordan, receiving 8 awards for the powerful mementos of human suffering which he brought back. The Czech Press Photo Award comes with a 100,000 crown check. If you are interested in seeing the best photos of 1999 you will find them on : www.ceskenoviny.cz.
Tuesday should be another gray and overcast day with drizzle and afternoon highs between 12 and 16 degs C. Nighttime lows between 8 and 4 degs C.
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