News

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Jiri Paroubek asks ministers for proposal regarding Lebanon

Outgoing prime minister Jiri Paroubek has asked the ministers of defense and foreign affairs to prepare a proposal regarding Czech military involvement in Lebanon. The ministers have been asked to have the proposal ready in time for the next cabinet meeting, and Mr. Paroubek says that the size of a possible Czech military unit and its strategic focus should become public next week. Mr. Paroubek first spoke about an active role for Czech forces in Lebanon within the framework of the U.N. mission earlier in the week, though Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda was far more cautious about the possibility, stressing that such a move warrants serious considerations. After more than a month of fighting, a U.N. resolution has secured a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.

Topolanek may ask Pavel Zarecky to serve in minority cabinet

Prime Minister designate, Mirek Topolanek, has indicated that he will likely nominate Pavel Zarecky for a ministerial post in the emerging Civic Democratic minority government, even though Mr. Zarecky is not a Civic Democrat. Mr. Zarecky led the Committee on Legislation and served as minister without portfolio in the previous Social Democratic cabinet of Jiri Paroubek. Mr. Topolanek revealed his intentions in an interview for the Saturday edition of the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes, though he refused to name others who may figure in his new minority cabinet, saying only that names which appeared during the previous negotiations with the three-party coalition still stand.

Mr. Topolanek is currently in the process of trying to secure an agreement from the Social Democrats by which a minority Civic Democratic led government would be tolerated. Reports say that an agreement between the two largest Czech political parties could be on the table sometime next week.

Christian Democrats to sit as opposition party

Meanwhile, Christian Democratic leader, Miroslav Kalousek, says that his party is definitely taking the position of an opposition party in the lower house. Mr. Kalousek told reporters that it remains unclear whether Christian Democrat MPs will vote directly against Mr. Topolanek's proposed minority government in a vote of confidence, or simply walk out of the lower house prior to the vote. Nonetheless, Mr. Kalousek is taking the position that any previous cooperation agreed upon within the three-party coalition framework has been dissolved given the new efforts to have a minority Civic Democratic government supported by the Social Democrats.

Jiri Paroubek does not see early elections as threat to Czech EU presidency

Outgoing prime minister and Social Democratic chairman Jiri Paroubek thinks that holding early elections before January 2009 would not threaten the success of the Czech Republic's scheduled term at the helm of the European Union. The Czech Republic is due to hold the E.U. presidency from January to June 2009. During the past week, Mr. Paroubek has indicated that his Social Democrats would be willing to tolerate a Civic Democratic minority government for a limited time, and that early elections could be held in the autumn of 2008.

Protests against nuclear waste storage in Klatovy region

Several tens of people protested on Saturday against plans to store nuclear waste in the Klatovy region of west Bohemia. The protest went ahead even though government plans to proceed with the construction of a nuclear waste storage facility have been put on hold until 2009. A spokesman for a concerned group of citizens said that people are afraid of water contamination, as well as possible terrorist attacks.

D1 highway closed for ten hours

A serious accident on the D1 highway between Prague and Brno left the motorway closed for more than ten hours in the early hours of Saturday. A long-haul truck crashed into a colony of thirteen cars, sending three people to hospital with injuries; all are expected to make a full recovery. The incident happened near Strechov, central Bohemia, the site of other serious accidents in recent years.

Martina Hingis and Martina Navratilova in Rogers Cup semifinals

While Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic has withdrawn from singles play at the Rogers Cup in Montreal due to shoulder pain, two tennis stars with Czech roots have advanced in the tournament. Martina Hingis has reached the women's semifinals in singles play, with a victory over Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova, 7:6, 6:3.

And in doubles play, Martina Navratilova and her Russian partner Nadia Petrova are through to the semifinals with a victory over the number-one seeded team of Zi Yan and Jie Zheng of China, 6:4, 3:6, 6:4.

Weather

The forecast for the next several days calls for partly cloudy skies and daytime highs of about 24 degrees Celsius.