President Vaclav Havel has joined seven other European leaders in signing an article published in major European dailies on Thursday supporting US President George W. Bush's stance on Iraq. In the letter, initiated by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, the leaders of Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain said the Iraqi regime and its weapons of mass destruction represented a clear threat to world security. Among the signatories, Vaclav Havel is the only president, the rest are prime ministers of their respective countries. The representatives of France and Germany did not sign the article.
When asked by the CTK news agency why he did not sign the article, the Czech Republic's Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said the Czech Republic's official stance was represented by a resolution approved by the Czech parliament and there was no need to add anything to it. Prime Minister Spidla also said the country's foreign policy was not defined by newspaper articles, however important the authors and signatories.
The leaders of the three parties in the ruling coalition, the Social and Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, are to meet on Friday morning to discuss a common presidential candidate capable of gaining enough votes in both chambers of the Czech parliament. The leaders of all the parliamentary parties are expected to meet next Wednesday to agree on further strategy as to the election of a new Czech president. They should decide on the date of the third attempt to elect a new head of state after two inconclusive votes took place earlier this month.
In a surprise move, the Czech National Bank has decided to cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point, namely the limit repo rate to 2.50 percent, the discount rate to 1.50 percent and the Lombard rate to 3.50 percent. The changes will come into force as of Friday, January 31. The main reasons for the cut are low inflation and a marked slowdown of economic growth in Western Europe.
Friday should be overcast with snow showers and daytime temperatures ranging from minus four to zero degrees Celsius.
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