Political agreement "in the making"
Following a meeting with the leaders of five parliamentary parties on Friday President Klaus indicated that a solution to the country's political crisis was "in the making". The president said that the party leaders had reached "a fragile agreement on a possible solution" which still needed to be approved by their respective party leaderships and that there were many questions left open. Mr. Klaus did not disclose any details of what such an agreement would entail. He said another meeting had been scheduled for Tuesday when he hoped party leaders would be able to seal the deal.
Citing an unnamed, well-informed source at Prague Castle, the internet server Novinky.cz claims that the agreement in question is a government of all parliamentary parties except the Communists which would lead the country to early elections in 2008. Such a government would be made up of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, the Greens and the Social Democrats.
Vsetin mayor defends his policy
The controversial Christian Democrat mayor of Vsetin Jiri Cunek has defended his policy to evict several hundred Romany rent-defaulters from the town centre. Mr. Cunek's statement to the media that he was "cleaning an ulcer" has provoked controversy and raised the ire of his own party, whose leadership has distanced itself from the statement and is considering expelling him from party ranks. Mr. Cunek defended his words and actions in Friday's edition of Lidove Noviny saying that he had strong backing among the local community and that his critics were talking "a load of drivel" about a problem they knew nothing about.
Hruby to prepare country for EU presidency
The government has selected Zdenek Hruby, currently head of the CEZ energy utility's supervisory board, as the man who should prepare the Czech Republic for its EU presidency in 2009. Foreign Minister Aleaxander Vondra introduced Mr. Hruby to the lower house's Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday. Lubomir Zaoralek, lower house deputy chairman, said the Social Democrats would not challenge the appointment. The Czech Republic is to preside over the EU in the first half of 2009.
Czech Republic and Germany take joint stand on beer
The finance ministers of Germany and the Czech Republic announced on Friday they would join forces to block the European Commission's plans to raise minimum duties on beer. Last month the European Union's executive arm proposed a 31 percent increase in the minimum EU duty on beer and spirits to reflect inflation since the tax was last set 14 years ago. The rise, which needs the unanimous approval of the EU's 25 member states, would add a euro cent (about 1.3 U.S. cents) to the price of a half litre of beer. Czech Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty said Prague was prepared to veto the alcohol duty rise. He also rejected the argument that the Commission's move was necessary to combat alcoholism across the EU.
President amnesties 13 people
President Klaus has amnestied thirteen people among them the head of a nursery and two teachers who were sentenced in connection with an accident which happened to one of their charges. During a children's party a little girl's wig caught fire and the child suffered serious burns. All three women received suspended sentences.
Trade surplus statistics
The Czech trade surplus rose to 7.5 billion CZK (341.5 million USD) in September, a rise of 2.2 billion crowns on a 12-month comparison, according to data released by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. The positive trade balance largely stems from a 3 billion crown increase in the trade surplus in machinery and transport equipment. Exports reached the highest level since March 2006 and the second highest level ever, the office added.
Three Czech teams in UEFA Cup beaten on Thursday
It was a bad night for Czech football on Thursday, with all three Czech teams in the UEFA Cup losing. Mlada Boleslav went down 1:0 at home to Greece's Panathinaikos, Sparta Prague were beaten 3:1 away by Waregem of Belgium and Liberec lost 4:0 away to Braga of Spain.
The next few days are expected to bring more snow-showers, even in lower altitudes, and day temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius. A gradual warming is expected at the start of next week.