Daily news summary News

12-04-2005

Coalition talks: inconclusive

The three parties in the Czech governing coalition have so far failed to agree on the set-up of a new Cabinet which would break the political stalemate in the Czech Republic. The governing parties are looking to end months of political instability, sparked by a scandal over PM Stanislav Gross' private finances, by negotiating the set up of a new semi-caretaker government under a different prime minister. They have so far failed to agree on two important issues: the division of ministerial posts and whether the new government should be formed on the basis of a full coalition agreement or a one-off deal, as proposed by the Social Democrats.

The Christian Democratic Party has refused to consider a one-off deal for fear that it would not provide enough guarantees against possible future cooperation between the Social Democrats and the Communists. The talks are expected to continue on Wednesday.

President urges speedy solution to crisis

President Klaus on Tuesday urged the coalition parties to speed up the process of resolving the ongoing political crisis. He said a solution should be found within hours, not days or weeks and urged all parties involved to focus on the main goal and be prepared to make concessions. The President said that if the coalition parties failed to reach agreement soon, he would be forced to take what he called "radical action".

Telefonica buys Telecom

The Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica has bought a majority stake in Cesky Telecom. Under a contract signed in Prague on Tuesday, Telefonica will pay the Czech government 82.6 billion crowns for its 51.1 percent shares in the company. The government will use the revenue to finance social and environmental projects, cover the losses of the bail-out agency Ceska Konsolidacni Agentura and to implement the planned pension reform.

Czechs take part in Eurotech 2005

Emergency workers and police from five European countries -including the Czech Republic - on Tuesday staged the explosion of a train carrying hazardous materials in order to test the coordination of EU disaster response networks. Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany and Italy joined France for "Eurotech 2005" an exercise simulating the derailing and subsequent explosion of a train carrying toxic chemicals in close proximity to a housing community and a passenger train. Emergency workers were faced with a total of 1,500 injured.

Civic Democrats back-track on referendum demand

The right wing Civic Democratic Party has back-tracked on an earlier demand for a referendum on the EU Constitution to be held separately from voting in the next general elections. Party leader Mirek Topolanek told the daily Hospodarske Noviny that the Civic Democrats were willing to make a concession on the issue and discuss an appropriate date with other parliamentary parties. The Czech Republic has not yet officially decided on how the EU Constitution should be ratified. The Social Democrats and the Civic Democratic Party have both tabled their own version of a referendum bill - the former introducing the referendum as an institution as such, the latter proposing a one-off referendum bill linked solely to the EU Constitution. Neither party has so far shown itself willing to support the other's proposal.

Wednesday:

Wednesday is expected to be partly cloudy with some rain and day temperatures between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius.

12-04-2005