Next Wednesday target date for draft government programme

The right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, leading negotiations in the second attempt to form a government since inconclusive elections in June, has said it hopes to complete a draft policy programme by Wednesday next week. The announcement was made on Friday by deputy party chairman Petr Necas, who said that the programme would then be assessed by representatives from the four parties in negotiations.

It has not been decided whether all of the parties, the Civic, Social and Christian Democrats, as well as the Greens, will be represented in the future government.

So far, representatives though have agreed on the programme being divided in the following areas for discussion: public finances and taxes; social policy and pension reform; health care; entrepreneurship; security and anti-corruption measures; and the EU presidency and EU funds.

Czech labour market to be opened to Bulgarians and Romanians

The Czech Republic will open its labour market to Romania and Bulgaria when the two countries join the European Union in January. But, the country reserves the right to limit the movement of labour if the number of workers reaches a level that limits employment opportunities for Czechs. Results of a poll in Bulgaria suggest that most workers who plan to seek employment abroad would prefer to work in Spain or Germany. A similar poll in Romania indicates that France, Italy, and Spain are the most attractive destinations.

Civic Democrats against Chamber of Deputies hosting Iraq conference

The right-of-centre Civic Democrats have expressed opposition to the Chamber of Deputies hosting a conference on Iraq. The planned conference is reportedly to be broadcast by Al Jazeera television and is expected to include participants from the Iraqi opposition critical to US policy. The conference has been planned under the auspices of lower house deputy speaker Lubomir Zaoralek. On Friday, Petr Tluchor, the leader of the Civic Democrats' deputies' group, said that his party was against the conference being held under the auspices of a high constitutional official. Czech Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra also suggested the lower house was not an appropriate location.

Mr Zaoralek, meanwhile, has reportedly said he does not yet have a list of all participants in the event; he has stressed the aim of the conference is to help promote European values as well as the EU's influence in Iraq.

Czech Republic likely to join Schengen zone by 2008

A Finnish diplomatic source has said that the Czech Republic and other EU member states that joined in 2004, may join the Schengen zone as early as one year's time or early 2008. The Schengen zone harmonises external EU borders while dismantling internal border controls. Delays with the Schengen information system had suggested the Czechs' and others' joining of the zone could be pushed back as late as 2009.

Vondra: US missile defence base could be decided in January

Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra has said that the issue of a possible stationing of a US missile defence base in Czech territory is likely to be decided in January. He indicated some delay was to be expected given recent changes at the US defense department, with former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld newly replaced by Robert Gates. On Friday, Mr Vondra reported to Czech MPs on negotiations underway at the request of the Communist Party. The Communists are against the construction of a defence base on Czech and on Friday tried unsuccessfully to push through a proposal in the lower house blocking further talks on the US proposal.

If a base is agreed one solution could be a base could be divided into two parts: defence radar deployed in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in Poland.

Czech troops officially head command at Kabul airport

Czech military personnel have officially taken command at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Specialists in the Czech contingent will operate there for the next four months. It is the first command held by the Czechs within the ISAF. The Czech contingent is made up 47 members of the Czech Army, including specialists on air control, flight security, and logistics. In all, about 500 soldiers and specialists from about 20 NATO members and Afghanistan are serving under the command at Kabul airport.

Next instalment of Narnia Chronicles to be shot in Czech Republic

The Czech financial newspaper Hospodarske Noviny has written that much of the next film in the Narnia Chronicles, Prince Caspian based on a series of books by C.S. Lewis, will be shot in the Czech Republic next year. The daily reports that both exteriors and much studio work will be shot in the Czech Republic, many interiors at the famous Barrandov Studios. The first instalment of the series "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" also included a number of scenes filmed in the Czech Republic: namely scenes among famous cliff formations in the area known as Cesky Raj - Czech Paradise.


The next few days should continue to have cloudy skies. Daytime temperatures will range from 5 to 8 degrees Celsius.