Daily news summary News

12-04-2011

Coalition leaders want government to continue

Leaders of the Czech centre-right coalition have agreed they want the government to continue, a government spokesman said after their meeting on Monday evening. Leaders of the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs parties agreed on further negotiations, and will amend the coalition agreement, the spokesman said. No details were given about how they want to deal with the on-going government crisis; the head of the Civic Democrat group of deputies, Petr Tluchoř, said further talks will be held after President Václav Klaus accepts the resignation of transport minister and unofficial Public Affairs leader Vít Bárta, and the dismissal of party chairman Radek John from the Interior Ministry and Josef Dobeš from the Ministry of Education.

President continues to hold out on approving resignations

Meanwhile, President Klaus continues to refuse the resignation of Mr Bárta as well as the two dismissals. Mr Klaus told reporters in Brno on Tuesday that for the sake of the country he would not get involved in the chaotic situation; the coalition, he said, had made a half-step and he is waiting for the other shoe to drop. Before approving the resignations the president demands that the coalition leaders write up a plan for how they intend to continue to govern together. Prime Minister Petr Nečas says he has already told the president what the next steps will be, and urged him to fulfil his constitutional duty by approving the resignations. The constitution holds that the president must approve ministerial resignations and dismissals, but does not say when.

Civic Democrats rule out Public Affairs’ control of Interior Ministry…

The leading government coalition party, the Civic Democrats, have announced they will not allow the embattled Public Affairs party to retain control of the Ministry of the Interior. The party announced, after a meeting of its parliamentary club, that Public Affairs’ continued control of the ministry was unacceptable, and that this would be an absolute condition for the continuation of the coalition. Civic Democrat MPs also voiced their support for the decision of chairman and Prime Minister Petr Nečas to sack three Public Affairs ministers over poor performance and their connections to the ABL detective agency. The Ministry of the Interior is responsible for the police and public order, administrative courts, fire and immigration departments.

… Public Affairs refuses to budge on own demands.

Public Affairs flatly refused this scenario on Tuesday afternoon, saying they insist that chairman Radek John remain Interior Minister to finish the work he had begun. Mr John said that his party does not want the Civic Democrats to have control of the Interior Ministry, which he said is investigating that party’s own corruption affairs. The junior coalition party also repeated their calls for the dismissal of Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek of the TOP 09 party and Agriculture Minister Ivan Fuksa of the Civic Democrats. The party also announced that they have filed charges over improper tenders in the state forestry company, a situation for which they say Mr Fuksa is responsible.

Agricultural association back minister

Agricultural associations are supporting Mr Fuksa, however. The Agrarian Chamber of the Czech Republic, the Private Agriculture Association and the Agricultural Association of the Czech Republic have all asked that the agriculture minister retain his post, praising his work against bureaucracy and his support for needed reforms. The association of wood processing, however, also demands the minister’s dismissal, having long criticised him for the handling of tenders in the state forestry company, Lesy ČR.

Suggestions of ministerial replacements taking shape

The daily Právo reports on speculation within Public Affairs as to who will replace the party’s outgoing ministers. Citing anonymous sources within Public Affairs, Právo writes that the top name for transportation minister is MP Petr Skokan, formerly the governor of the Liberec region and mayor of Česká Lipa who has no ties to the detective agency ABL. MP Milan Štovíček, a former high school headmaster from Litvínov, is reportedly being considered for the post of education minister. The parliamentary clubs of the coalition parties are meeting on Tuesday to discuss their options.

Foreign Affairs Ministry holds nuclear disarmament conference

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is holding a conference on nuclear disarmament to mark the first anniversary of the US- Russian disarmament summit in Prague, and two years since US President Barack Obama’s speech on the issue in the Czech metropolis. Speakers at the event are set to include the White House coordinator for arms control Gary Samore and Russian presidential advisor on foreign affairs Sergei Prikhodko. The New START treaty requires the two former Cold War leaders to decrease their nuclear arsenals by one third.

Prague 3 representatives hold special meeting on fate of Žižkov cargo station

Representatives of Prague 3 are holding a special meeting to discuss the fate of the large rail cargo station in the borough of Žižkov. The meeting is taking place at the behest of the opposition, which is opposed to the destruction of the station and is asking the district town hall to change its stance. The district government and Czech Railways are interested in refurbishing the area, building flats for thousands of people as well as office space and commercial centres. The plan to tear down the functionalist-style station has drawn the ire of several experts and civic associations who consider it a valuable work of architecture. The Ministry of Culture is to decide on whether the building will be protected.

Teachers protest introduction of mandatory curricula

Some 300 teachers have sent a petition to the government in protest against an amendment to the education act that would reintroduce mandatory curricula. Schools currently make their own teaching plans prepared through a general education programme that is harmonized with state requirements, and the teachers say the amendment would be a step backwards. The ministry says the aim is to halt the negative trend in international surveys, in which Czech children have been among the lowest ranked. The amendment is to be discussed at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

First Czech cosmonaut receives Russian Order of Merit

The first and only Czechoslovak cosmonaut, Vladimír Remek, has been awarded the Russian Order of Merit for the exploration of space on the 50th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight. Mr Remek, now an MEP for the Communist Party, was in Moscow for the ceremony, along with other Russian and foreign cosmonauts, and received the award from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Mr Remek was a military fighter pilot for the Czechoslovak Army in the 1970s, and spent nearly eight days on the Soviet Soyuz 28 mission in March of 1978. He was also the first astronaut from a country other than the US or the USSR.

Weather

Currently cool and rainy conditions are expected to last for the next few days, with mostly cloudy skies and daytime highs of around 10° Celsius.

12-04-2011