Social Democrats withdraw candidate for lower house chairman
The Social Democrats have withdrawn the candidacy of MP Lubomir Zaoralek for the post of lower house chairman. As Mr. Zaoralek was the only nominee for the post, the election, originally scheduled for Friday, has been postponed until late next week. The Social Democrats say that they withdrew their candidate because they were not able to secure enough support for Mr. Zaoralek prior to the vote.
Meanwhile, the two largest Czech political parties, the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats, continue to try and negotiate a way out of the parliamentary deadlock. The Social Democrats, who came second in last month's election, have agreed to meet next week with coalition partners the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens to discuss policy priorities. Talks on the formation of a new government have been going on for some six weeks, since a national election resulted in a perfect split in the lower house of the Czech Parliament.
Italy has opened doors to Czech workers
The European Commission announced in Brussels on Friday that Italy has opened its labour market to citizens of the newest European Union member states, including the Czech Republic. Italy is the second country in quick succession to open its labour market to citizens of the new EU-member countries; Denmark also relaxed its requirements on July 1, 2006. Meanwhile, the closest neighbours of the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria, have not opened their labour markets to Czech citizens. Czechs can work without restrictions in Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Italy and Iceland.
Foreign Ministry calls on Czechs to leave Lebanon
The Czech Foreign Ministry continues to warn Czech nationals in Lebanon to leave the country amid the continuing conflict between Israel and Lebanon. Czech citizens are being advised not to travel to Lebanon. A group of Czechs returned to Prague in the early hours of Friday, and another group is traveling to the Czech Republic via Syria and Cyprus. In addition to organizing these evacuations, the Czech government has decided to allocate 5 million crowns for humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
Czech railways are safe
According to a report by the European Railway Agency released on Friday, the safety of Czech railways meets the standards of other European countries. The results are a marked improvement over 2004, when the Czech Republic recorded many more railway accidents and ranked 11th out of 23 monitored EU member states. Although the Czech Republic's overall safety rating has improved, there remain a high number of suicides at railway crossings. In 2005 railway accidents claimed 254 lives and another 251 people were injured, these mostly the result of drivers who failed to observe traffic regulations at crossings.
Rare birds rescued near Brno
Police in the south Moravian region of Brno have seized 118 rare birds from a private collector in the small town of Ujezd. Among the animals were species listed as internationally endangered, and others which are protected by Czech law. The owner of the property faces up to three years in prison, or a monetary fine. The rescued birds have found temporary shelter at the Brno zoo.
Meteorologists are warning that the tropical heat wave in the Czech Republic will continue until the end of July. Sunny skies and daytime highs up to 33 degrees Celsius are expected into the weekend, and thunderstorms have also been forecast for Friday and Saturday.