Daily news summary News

02-08-2004

Coalition agreement signed to pave way for new government

Three parties set to make up the Czech Republic's new centre-left government outlined its priorities on Monday by signing a coalition agreement that could bring to an end the government crisis that ensued following the resignation of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla in June. Prime Minister Stanislav Gross led negotiations on the new government with original coalition partners the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, arriving at Monday's agreement. Mr Gross has made clear the new cabinet's priorities will include supporting business, education, and young families, while fighting unemployment and lowering the public deficit.

However, the cabinet has yet to be officially named by President Vaclav Klaus who has reportedly already expressed dissatisfaction with several names put forward for ministerial posts.

Following the cabinet's naming the government will have 30 days to ask for a vote of confidence in the Lower House. A likely date for the vote, already being discussed, is August 24th.

New cabinet will see many current ministers retain their posts

The new cabinet to be put forward by Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, meanwhile, is expected to see many current ministers continue in their posts. President Vaclav Klaus said on Monday he had expected to see greater differences between the outgoing and incoming cabinets, while thanking outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla's government for two year's work at a ceremony at Prague Castle.

During the day Mr Klaus received a list of new cabinet members from Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, with the president's spokesman Petr Hajek saying the president would meet with several of those named in the new cabinet on Tuesday.

Those not expected to continue in the new government include Health Minister Jozef Kubinyi, Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka, and Deputy Prime Minister Petr Mares.

At the moment it remains unclear whether Agriculture Minister Jaroslav Palas will stay on.

Police: Sunday's attack had roots in assassination of underworld boss two years ago

A Czech investigator has said that a blast that injured 18 people in downtown Prague on Sunday has roots in the assassination of Israeli underworld boss Felix Abutbul in Prague two years ago, gunned down near his Casino Royal in the capital's Na Prikope Street. The investigator said that Sunday's attack, aimed at Mr Abutbul's son Assaf as he arrived in his car, was part of a continuing settling of accounts between two underworld families, whose battles have targeted several in various cities around the world, including in Israel. Police are now putting together a composite of the assailant who managed to escape the scene of the crime in the confusion following the blast.

Czech politicians have said an investigation would be held to ensure adequate security especially near gambling sites, while Prague's Deputy Mayor Rudolf Blazek added police would be consulted to determine possible increases in security measures.

Ruzyne airport cleared more than one million travellers in July

Prague's Ruzyne airport reportedly cleared more than one million travellers in July - the first time the airport has ever cleared such a high a number in a single month. Airport spokeswoman Anna Kovarikova said on Monday the number of passengers grew by 20 percent year-on-year saying more detailed information would be provided in the coming weeks. By comparison - in June - 950, 000 passengers were cleared, which had set the record till now. Czech Airports Authority chief executive Martin Kacur has stated that Prague's Ruzyne airport, along with Vienna, has become one of the most important air transport hubs in Central Europe.

Swimmer to carry Czech flag at opening ceremony at Olympic Games

21-year-old swimmer Kvetoslav Svoboda has been named as the athlete who will carry the flag for the Czech delegation at the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, on August 13th. The head of the Czech Olympic mission Frantisek Dvorak made the announcement on Monday. Mr Svoboda - a specialist in the crawl - will compete in the 200 metres race in Athens.

Weather

Tuesday is expected to be sunny with daytime temperatures reaching 26 degrees Celsius.

02-08-2004