News

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Jiri Paroubek intends to push for early elections

Outgoing Social Democratic prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has confirmed that he intends to press for early elections to the lower house in 2008. Mr. Paroubek made the statements during a televised interview on Sunday, saying that he does not want to allow a minority Civic Democratic government to govern until 2009, when the Czech Republic will hold the presidency of the European Union. The Social Democratic chairman was reacting to his rival, the chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Mirek Topolanek, who does not agree with the notion that the next government's mandate should end before the EU presidency term finishes in June 2009. Earlier, Mr. Paroubek had expressed the opinion that early elections would not hurt the Czech Republic's success during the EU presidency rotation.

Mr. Topolanek and Mr. Paroubek are due to meet on Monday to discuss the conditions for Social Democratic support for a minority Civic Democratic government. Mr. Paroubek wants to approve key ministry postings and two possible Civic Democratic candidates are problematic for him: Alexander Vondra and Ivan Langer, who have been tipped as candidates for foreign minister and interior minister, respectively.

2010 Euro adoption threatened

The deputy finance minister Eduard Janota says that the Czech Republic's planned adoption of the Euro in 2010 is in danger. Mr. Janota made the statement during a televised interview on Sunday. He says that the Euro's adoption is threatened because the Czech Republic must fulfill all the Maastricht criteria by the middle of 2007, and that includes criteria regarding the proposed state budget deficit. EU standards set deficit rates at a maximum of 3.3% of GDP, while the Czech Republic's proposed budget for 2007 stands at 88 billion crowns, including a deficit of 3.8% GDP.

Meanwhile, outgoing prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, has reacted to the news by saying that it is better to delay the introduction of the Euro than to cut-back on social programs.

Educational reform pilot project set to start

The new school year set to begin in a couple of weeks will usher in the beginning of significant reforms to the educational system, says a spokesman from the Ministry of Education. The new educational techniques will first be tested at elementary schools designated for the pilot-program, meant to eliminate the traditional approach in Czech schools which saw children memorizing a great many facts and placed far less stress on creativity and discussion. The ministry also says that parents will have a greater opportunity to provide schools and teachers with feedback on their child's education. The educational reforms are marked as the most significant since the early 1990s and will come into effect on 1 September 2007.

Prague currency exchange office robbed at gunpoint

Police have secured the descriptions of three men who robbed a currency exchange office in the center of Prague on Saturday afternoon. The men got away with a reported 800 000 crowns, and police are currently gathering evidence, screening surveillance footage and interviewing possible witnesses. A spokeswoman from the Prague police department said that the thieves were not masked, and that they spoke Czech with a foreign accent. One of the three men used a firearm during the robbery, and local residents are being asked to provide any information they may have about the incident.

D1 highway witness to tragedy

One man died at the scene of a highway accident on the D1 motorway near Brno on Sunday, and the driver of the vehicle was taken to hospital with critical injuries.

It is the second serious accident on the D1 motorway to take place over the weekend. On Saturday, the D1 was closed for over 10 hours as police conducted an investigation into a major accident involving a semi-truck and thirteen other vehicles.

Jaromir Jagr takes home Golden Hockey Stick prize

Czech hockey star Jaromir Jagr, who plays for the NHL's New York Rangers, has won the seventh Golden Hockey Stick Prize of his career. The award is given to the best Czech hockey player of the year. This year's runner-up was Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Weather

The forecast for the next several days calls for partly cloudy skies and daytime highs of about 23 degrees Celsius.