News

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Paroubek: Social Democrats unlikely to join coalition

Social Democrat chairman and outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said that his party is prepared to support a minority Civic Democrat cabinet or to agree with the Civic Democrats on a caretaker government. Speaking after a party leadership meeting on Tuesday morning, he said that his party was unlikely to accept the offer made by Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek to join the ongoing coalition talks. In an article published in Tuesday's Hospodarske noviny, Mr Paroubek indicated that he considered the formation a caretaker government agreed on by the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats to be the only solution to the post-election deadlock.

Reacting to his rival's declaration, Mr. Topolanek says that his Civic Democrats are not prepared to accept the idea of a caretaker government composed of his party and MPs from the Social Democratic Party. Mr. Topolanek says that Mr. Paroubek's rejection of Monday's offer to participate in coalition talks is destructive.

The centre-right coalition of the Civic Democratic Party, the Christian Democrats, and the Greens offered the Social Democrats a place in the coalition cabinet on Monday. Before the weekend, the coalition also said that it was ready to support the election of a Social Democrat as the speaker of the lower house of parliament. The next round of talks about the creation of a new government is scheduled for Wednesday.

President will be involved in negotiations over government

President Vaclav Klaus, who is on an official visit to Romania, has said that it is necessary to seek a solution to the current election stalemate and involve the Social Democratic Party in the process. But Mr Klaus said he could not predict whether Mr Topolanek's offer to the Social Democrats to join the emerging coalition was a way out of the situation.

Speaking to reporters in Bucharest on Tuesday morning, Mr.Klaus said that he intends to meet with leaders of all five parliamentary parties during the course of Thursday and Friday, so that he can hear their views on the current post-election deadlock. Mr. Klaus said that the time for him to become engaged in the process of forming a new government has come, and that he intends to devote his attention to matters of the domestic political scene upon return to Prague Wednesday evening.

A third attempt to elect a leader of the lower house is planned for Friday, though it remains unclear who the candidates will be.

David Rath dismisses head of National Drug Control Institute

Health Minister David Rath has dismissed the director of the National Drug Control Institute, Milan Smid. Mr. Rath told reporters that Mr. Smid failed to fulfill tasks assigned to him in January, which included compiling detailed reports on certain drugs and their position on the global market. The minister says he required the report while drafting his controversial cost-saving proposal that would require Czechs to pay for certain medicines. Mr. Smid has not commented his dismissal.

Warner Home Video closes shop in Czech Republic and Slovakia

Warner Home Video (WHV), a company responsible for the distribution of videos and DVDs in 98 countries, has decided to close its branches in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The Czech news agency, CTK, reports that the decision comes as a result of the high degree of piracy in the two central European countries, as well as the saturation of the home video market. Sales of DVDs in the Czech Republic dropped by 19% last year, a figure that experts say illustrates the high rate of digital piracy. As of October 2006, the license for distribution of WHV programs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia will be acquired by Magic Box entertainment, a division of the central European group AQS.

Baros move to Hamburg in doubt

Milan Baros's move to Hamburg is in doubt, after the chairman of his present club Aston Villa described an offer made by the Germans as unacceptable. The Czech international striker has not made a great impact since joining Villa last summer; however chairman Doug Ellis said the club would not let him go on the cheap, after paying almost 12 million dollars for him.

Salmonella outbreak in north Bohemia

Healthcare workers have registered a sharp increase in salmonella cases in north Bohemia. The cause of the three-fold increase in cases is being credited to a wedding reception—half of the guests experienced digestive problems afterwards—and to the seasonal temperature highs. Doctors are warning people to ensure that foods are properly cooked, and to pay special attention to grilled meats during the summer barbeque season.

Weather

The current hot and sunny weather is expected to continue in the coming days with daytime temperatures reaching highs of 33 degrees Celsius.