Daily news summary News

03-03-2005

Social Democrats ready to continue in coalition, Christian Democrats to wait until Social Democrat party congress

The Prime Minister Stanislav Gross said the Social Democrats were ready to continue in the current three-party coalition government. Speaking after Thursday's coalition meeting, Mr Gross also said he was prepared to publicly apologise to everyone who, as he said, could have been offended by his earlier statements regarding his flat financing scandal. The Christian Democrat Chairman Miroslav Kalousek said his party would not call on the Prime Minister to resign before the Social Democrat party congress at Easter. He said it was up to the Social Democrats to resolve the Prime Minister's scandal themselves.

The Christian Democrats originally called on the prime minister to step down, while many Social Democrats demanded that three Christian Democrats ministers be dismissed from the cabinet. On Wednesday Prime Minister Gross said he will step down if he does not receive the strong backing of the Social Democrats at Saturday's party meeting. Mr Gross has been under pressure for some weeks over his family's private finance, with the affair threatening to bring down the governing coalition.

Communists ready to negotiate support for minority government

The opposition Communists say they are ready to start negotiations about their support for a Social Democrat minority government. In exchange for their support, the Communists would require a change in the Social Democrats' policy. That scenario is one of several possible resolutions of the current coalition crisis, which broke out over Prime Minister Gross's property affairs in mid-February.

Finance Minister: costs of transformation of Czech economy top 600 billion

Crowns

The Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said the costs of the Czech economic transformation between the year 1990 and 2004 exceeded 600 billion crowns (26 billion dollars), with most of the money going to bank and company revitalisation. Further dozens of billions of crowns were paid in support to municipalities and regions, Mr Sobotka said.

PPF consortium withdraws from Telecom sale, gives no reasons

The consortium of firms PPF, J&T, InWay and Tiscali has pulled out from a tender for a state-held stake in Cesky Telecom, a PPF spokeswoman said without giving any reasons. The consortium allegedly offered the highest preliminary bid of 71.3 billion crowns. Still in play for the majority stake in Cesky Telecom are France Telecom with the consortium Blackstone/CVC/Provident and telecoms operators Swisscom, Belgacom and Telefonica.

Czech arms makers linked to illegal arms deals with Congo

Czech arms manufacturer Arms Moravia appears to have exported arms to Congo, despite an international embargo, Thursday's edition of Hospodarske noviny reported. It says another company, Ceska zbrojovka Uhersky Brod attempted to illegally export over five thousand sub-machine guns to the country in the year 2000. The paper says former foreign minister Jan Kavan okayed the latter deal, despite having been made aware of the embargo.

Prague High Court to hear Srba case again

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Prague High Court should hear the case of former Foreign Ministry general secretary Karel Srba again. The court upheld the recourse filed by the Supreme State Attorney who considered an eight-year sentence for Mr Srba too lenient. Mr Srba is serving a prison sentence for involvement in the preparation of the planned contract killing of an investigative journalist who in her articles pointed to his dubious financial practices at the Foreign Ministry.

Czech climber found safe in Scottish Highlands

A Czech climber has been found by Scottish mountain rescuers, two days after going missing on Shelter Stone Crag Mountain in the Highlands. The alarm was raised after the Czech man and a Scottish mountaineer did not return on Tuesday evening.

Weather

We can expect temperatures to rise in the coming days, reaching highs of two degrees Celsius in the daytime. The skies should be partly cloudy and we can expect occasional snow showers.

03-03-2005