The leaders of two opposition parties, Jan Ruml of the Freedom Union and Jan Kasal of the Christian Democrats said on Tuesday, that they intend to start the process of holding a vote of no-confidence in the present Social Democrat led government.
Since the two parties lack the number of votes to push through the vote themselves, they said that they will approach Social democrats and members of the main opposition Civic Democratic Party, who are dissatisfied with the current state of political affairs in the Czech Republic. So far, they have not had much luck. Leader of the Civic democratic Party, Vaclav Klaus expressed his disbelief on Tuesday, dismissing the move as a theatrical gesture. Jan Ruml explained his reasons for the decision, saying the current minority government, supported by the Civic democratic Party was no good for the country and that its popularity was plummeting. He added that Parliament also intends to reject the proposal for next year's budget, coming up for debate later in the week.
Members of the ruling Social democrat party said on Tuesday afternoon that they want a full explanation from Premier Milos Zeman concerning the latest scandal which has erupted within the party. The so-called Stirin affair hit the political limelight after Vaclav Hruby, former director of the Stirin conference center revealed to the Czech press that Zeman's advisor had tried to blackmail him into forging evidence against former Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec. This comes after Zeman and current foreign Minister Jan Kavan accused Josef Zieleniec over the summer, of having bribed journalists.
On Tuesday, Head of the Social democratic deputy's Club, Stanislav Gross said that as soon as the Premier returns from Latvia, members of the party will demand an explanation. He said: "This is not an affair which can be swept under the carpet". Gross said that if Hruby's claims that he was blackmailed by Zeman's advisor, Jaroslav Novotny, turn out to be true, then there is no place in the government for Novotny. In the meantime, Jan Kavan has said that he wants to see the affair closed by the end of the year. He told journalists on Tuesday that all relevant documentation on the case will be available to the public after the 10th November.
Public pressure is mounting as 7000 people have signed a petition on the internet calling for Zeman and Kavan to withdraw their accusations levelled at Zieleniec.
Chairman of the Austrian Federal Council Jurgen Weiss expressed his support on Tuesday, for Czech entry to the European Union. He told Czech Minister for Labour and Social Affairs Vladimir Spidla that as far as Austria is concerned, the Czech Republic should become a member in 2003. The two statesmen meeting in Prague, also discussed Czech - Austrian ties, which have been slightly strained in the past. Vienna has expressed concern, that opening up the European union to other countries, could result in the Austrian market being flooded with cheap goods, leading to a loss of jobs and a drop in the standard of living.
The construction of the Temelin nuclear power station in southern Bohemia is another bone of contention. Although the Prague government insists that the plant is safe, the Austrian government has never concealed the fact that it does not believe Temelin meets European union safety requirements. Weiss who is on a three day visit to Prague, is set to meet with leading Czech representatives on Wednesday. The main item under discussion is European integration.
Vaclav Klaus, leader of the largest Czech opposition party, the Civic democrats, met on Tuesday with Polish foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek. The two discussed Czech - Polish ties and European Union accession. Klaus later told journalists that pulling their countries' ecological and legislative policies into line with those of the European Union were the two main points of interest discussed. Bronislaw Geremek was in Prague for one day, during which he met with other leading Czech representatives and discussed Czech - Polish dialogue and various security issues.
On Tuesday, Christoph Zopel, German co-ordinator for European politics, expressed his full support for Czech membership of the European Union on behalf of the German government. Speaking in Prague with Czech deputy Foreign Minister Pavel Telicka on Tuesday, Zopel said he hopes the Czech republic fulfills all membership criteria as soon as possible. Prague's preparations for European Union membership and the sale of land to non-Czechs were the main topics discussed. Telicka said that the Prague government would ideally like to limit the amount of land, being sold to non- Czechs for fear that this would push up prices making it nearly impossible for Czechs to purchase property themselves.
Zopel said he understood Czech fears and promised to investigate the matter. He said if these fears prove to be correct then the situation would be re-evaluated.
Civic Democratic senators on Tuesday called on Premier Milos Zeman to dismiss Health Minister Ivan David. They are objecting to David's plan to place the largest Health Insurance company under forced administration. This comes as Ivan David's deputy said recently he was considering resigning amid a row between his chief and Prague's Motol hospital.
A ridge of high pressure moving over the Czech Republic from the west, means the weather on Wednesday will be slightly warmer than it has been in recent days. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach 13 degrees Celsius, falling overnight to 4 degrees Celsius. Skies during the day will be cloudy with scattered showers and the possibility of snow in the mountains.
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