Interior Minister Ivan Langer told Thursday's edition of the daily Pravo the planned abolition of the ministry's financial police unit does not contradict EU interests or violate the country's commitments. Mr. Langer was reacting to criticism from Czech MEP Jana Hybaskova who said the decision was a bad one and would go against an EU directive combating money laundering. Within the Interior Ministry's streamlining and cost-cutting measures members of the financial police are to be transferred to other police units next year.
Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek said his party was willing to discuss conditions under which it would be prepared to tolerate a centre right cabinet. He said that President Klaus had brought the rival Civic Democratic Party down to earth with a bump, but that this would have happened anyway during a confidence vote in Parliament. Mr. Paroubek said that while from a constitutional angle the president's decision to reject the proposed government was controversial, he understood the practical reasons that had led him to make this decision.
Police chief Vladislav Husak has been caught speeding for the second time this year, prompting calls for his resignation. Although it is actually Mr. Husak's personal driver who has repeatedly violated traffic regulations it is the police chief who is being held responsible. When it happened the first time round in July, shortly after a strict new road law went into effect, the police chief promised to suspend his own driver's license for three months and said he would donate ten thousand crowns to charity to make up for it. On this occasion, when his driver failed to stop at a railway crossing, whizzing through at 180 km per hour, Mr. Husak claimed to have been fast asleep at the time. The interior minister has been unavailable for comment but a number of senior politicians have said Mr. Husak should be fired.
Following his meeting with the president, Prime Minister Topolanek expressed the hope that Mr. Klaus would eventually put aside his reservations and appoint the centre right cabinet. Mr. Topolanek said the agreed on coalition government was the best way out of the crisis as it would bring about badly needed reforms in public spending, health care and the pension system. The president is under no time limit to appoint the government but political analysts say he may be bound by the Constitution to eventually accept the three party cabinet.
The Senate has decided not to support a deputies' draft amendment to the law on social services defining the role and obligations of intervention centres for victims of domestic violence. Such centres are to be established in all fourteen regions of the Czech Republic as of January. The Senate pointed out that the intervention centres could start operating without special legislation in place and returned the bill to the lower house with modifications. Under the bill that was passed by the Chamber of Deputies earlier this month, police officers would be able to expel perpetrators of domestic violence from their homes for ten days. Officers would then also report the expulsion to intervention centres whose employees would connect the victims within 48 hours and offer them psychological as well as legal help.
A World Cup event - Nordic skiing - traditionally held at this time of year at Nove Mesto na Morave (Moravia) has been cancelled because of warm weather and lack of snow. The event was to be held next week. The decision to cancel the race was taken on Wednesday morning by organisers together with the head of the International Ski Federation's cross-country section Jorg Capol. An alternative site is reportedly being considered in the Krkonose (Giant) Mountains in northern Bohemia.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek will meet with president Vaclav Klaus on Thursday afternoon to provide the president with a list of ministers for his proposed government. Together the prime minister's Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens have 100 seats in the 200-member lower house, meaning that the agreed coalition will need to find additional support to win a majority in a confidence vote. Mr Topolanek indicated earlier the vote would be held in January. The Civic Democrats have stated repeatedly that they will be hoping to rely on support from what they call "constructive" MPs from within the ranks of the Social Democrats.
A preliminary investigation by the Swedish military has concluded that the Czech pilot of a Czech-leased Gripen fighter jet was probably not at fault in an incident in mid-October in Sweden, in which another plane was almost shot down. The fighter jet mistakenly fired not at a mid-air target but at its tow aircraft, manned by a three-member crew. Luckily, no one was hurt. According to the preliminary investigation by Swedish authorities the accident was not the Czech pilot's fault but the result of a combination of errors in preparation for the test. The Swedes will continue their enquiry into the case in order to prevent such an accident from happening again.
Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech has begun recruiting future employees for its car plant in eastern Moravia. Construction on the automobile plant is to begin next year and the facility itself is expected to be operational by 2009. Over the next two years just under 3,000 people are expected to be hired. At a press conference on Wednesday the company's director Jaromir Radkovsky said that the plant would hire mostly from areas in Moravia and Silesia. But, he stressed that people returning to the region with experience from elsewhere would be welcomed. The plant is cooperating with the local employment bureau as well as a number of recruitment firms. The management has suggested salaries and benefits at the new plant will be comparable to those offered by other car manufacturers in the Czech Republic.
Negotiations on a new centre-right coalition government headed by the Civic Democrats, together with the Christian Democrats and the Green Party appear set to wrap on Thursday. That will be just hours before Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek delivers a list of proposed ministers to President Vaclav Klaus. According to Green Party leader Martin Bursik, the parties have agreed on names to head almost all eighteen ministerial posts, but a coalition agreement between the three parties will apparently not be signed before the prime minister's meeting with the president on Thursday. Nine ministerial posts are to be held by the Civic Democrats, six by the Christian Democrats, and three by the Greens.
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