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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Financial analysts approached by the CTK news agency have agreed that the major advantage of an early adoption of the euro for Czech citizens would be easier travelling. On the other hand, they warned that the economy might overheat causing a rapid growth of prices. The government have agreed that the Czech Republic should adopt the European currency in 2010 but the term has been put into question by some experts. For example, the deputy finance minister Eduard Janota said on Sunday that the Czech Republic's planned adoption of the Euro in 2010 was in danger because the Czech Republic was not going to fulfil all the Maastricht criteria by the middle of 2007.
Outgoing Social Democrat prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, said on Sunday that he intended to press for early elections to the lower house in 2008, saying that he did not want to allow a minority Civic Democrat government to govern until 2009, when the Czech Republic will hold the presidency of the European Union. The chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Mirek Topolanek, does not agree with the notion that the next government's mandate should end before the EU presidency term finishes in June 2009. Earlier, Mr Paroubek had expressed the opinion that early elections would not hurt the Czech Republic's success during the EU presidency rotation.
The Czech Chamber of Agriculture has said that wheat yields in the Czech Republic will be lower than last year and due to bad weather conditions less than half of the harvested crops is expected to reach standard quality. Speaking at a news conference on Monday, the head of the chamber Jan Veleba said the situation can affect the prices of some foodstuffs, such as flour, baked products or meat. An unusually hot and dry July was followed by heavy rain at the beginning of August which damaged a lot of the crops.
The district state attorney's office in the city of Plzen has said two young traffic police officers from the Tachov district attempted to rob a local petrol station on Sunday night. They were detained as they were trying to assault the staff. One of them was on duty and wearing a police uniform at the time of the attack. Both men, aged 26 and 27, have been accused of plotting a robbery and one of abuse of power.
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