Lower House deputies will most likely postpone Tuesday's vote on a government bill on VAT that was vetoed by Czech President Vaclav Klaus. With two MPs in hospital, the ruling coalition, made up of the Social Democrats (CSSD), the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Freedom Union (US-DEU), would not have the 101 votes necessary to get a majority in the lower house and override the presidential veto. Independent deputy Petr Kott, who was expelled from the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) last year, has promised to support the bill. The coalition hopes to vote on the bill on Thursday, when Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda will be released from hospital and healthy enough to participate.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has been busy promoting Czech-Chinese business relations as part of his eleven-day trip to China, which he began last week. Mr Klaus attended the Shanghai-Czech economic forum on China's east coast, organised by the Shanghai Industry Federation, was at a signing of a 120 million crown contract for the supply of turbines from the Czech company Skoda Energo to Guangzhou Enterprise, and had lunch with representatives of the local Chamber of Commerce. Before heading for central China, Mr Klaus also visited the Pudong New Area special economic zone. Mr Klaus, who is the first Czech president to visit China, is now in Chengdu in the Sichuan Province, after which he is expected in Beijing. One of his final activities during the trip will be his participation in the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) international conference, which will be held in China's southern Hainan Province.
Members of the Visegrad Youth Confederation met in Prague on Monday to start a five-day discussion forum on cooperation of the Visegrad Group after European Union enlargement. A failure to adopt the European Constitution due to Poland's objections to its draft form showed that the Visegrad countries - Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary - will have their own, separate priorities in the EU, despite their common communist past. Until Friday, conference participants tackle the question how and whether the common Central European identity and roots can be stronger than differing economic and political interests after all four join the EU on May 1.
The environmental organisation Greenpeace has launched an information campaign in the Czech Republic in hope of gaining support for a petition calling onto the Czech Republic to join the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which governs the conduct of whaling throughout the world. Greenpeace organisers have inflated a large rubber whale in front of Prague's Municipal House, where passers-by can sign the petition and see an exhibition on the life of whales and dolphins. The two-week information campaign will be held in Prague, Pilsen, Ceske Budejovice, Pardubice, Brno, Ostrava, and finally in Olomouc.
Tuesday is expected to be a cloudy day with day-time temperatures reaching a maximum of 16 degrees Celsius.
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