News

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Civic Democrats to launch four-party coalition talks

The Civic Democrats are to start talks with the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Green Party on forming a four-party coalition government with a mandate until early elections in May or June 2008. Prime Minister designate Mirek Topolanek announced the plan after a meeting with representatives of the Greens on Thursday. Mr Topolanek said he was going to inform President Vaclav Klaus on Monday about the outcome of the talks. Next week will be devoted to negotiations about the government's programme. PM Topolanek also said a four-party cabinet is unlikely to be able to push through thorough reforms and that is why, he said, early elections should be held in eighteen months time.

Social Democrats to decide by Monday whether to join coalition

The Social Democrats have said they will decide by Monday whether they would support the four-party project with a view of early elections in 2008. Party leader Jiri Paroubek said on Thursday his party still preferred a cabinet with a three-year mandate.

Christian Democrats and Greens support four-party government

The Christian Democrats have said they are prepared to join a cabinet of four non-communist parties which would lead the country to early elections in 2008. The Green Party, the fourth partner in the project, have also approved the plan. The coalition would have 174 votes in the 200-member lower house. The Communists would be the only opposition party.

OECD calls on Czech Republic to crack down on cross-border corruption

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has urged the Czech Republic to take a more resolute approach to cross-border corruption. A report the OECD released in Paris says that if it wants to meet the OECD requirements in this area, the Czech Republic has to immediately introduce legal entities' liability for corruption abroad and apply effective, adequate and deterring sanctions for it. The report has been completed by a working group that examined how the Czech Republic fulfils the OECD convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions.

Swiss vote on billion Swiss franc boost for EU newcomers

The 10 newest members of the European Union stand to receive a huge cash injection from non-member Switzerland this weekend if Swiss voters approve controversial government plans for a one billion Swiss franc (630 million euro) grant. About half of the 10-year development package would go to Poland, ahead of Hungary and the Czech Republic, but the plan is opposed by right-wing isolationists in Switzerland who sought the referendum. The grant would be spent on chosen projects, ranging from fighting corruption, health care, cleaning up the environment, to promoting private enterprise including investment in small and medium sized companies.

Foreign Minister receives special "ambassador" - barrel of beer

Czech Foreign Minister Alexandr Vondra received a special "ambassador" on Thursday - a barrel of beer. The barrel, delivered by a horse-drawn carriage from the country's brewing capital, Pilsen, was given the red carpet treatment at the foreign ministry. Signed by Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, sporting personalities and citizens from the West Czech city, the "ambassador at large" will be dispatched on a special mission to Brussels next Tuesday to help the Czech Republic fight an EU proposal to increase excise taxes on beer.

EU finance ministers are due to debate the issue with the Finnish EU Presidency trying to win backing for a compromise proposal that can be swallowed by Europe's traditional beer drinking giants, such as the Czech Republic and Germany.

Civic Democrat MP dismisses police accusation of drunk driving

Police in the city of Brno say they caught Civic Democrat MP David Seich drunk driving on Wednesday but Mr Seich has dismissed the accusation. The police stopped Mr Seich's car that was driving along an opposition direction stripe. A breathalyser test showed he had been drinking alcohol. David Seich, 30, faces proceedings before a commission for misdemeanours or before the lower house mandate and immunity committee. If an ordinary citizen had a similar incident, they would face a fine up to 50,000 crowns and could be stripped of their driving licence for up to two years.

Weather

The next few days should be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered showers and daytime temperatures reaching highs of 13 degrees Celsius.