News

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Coalition agreement signed between Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats and Greens

After three weeks of negotiations representatives of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Green Party have signed a coalition agreement. Their agreement entails details of a common program which focuses on relations with the European Union, international cooperation, family matters, education, culture, respect for the rule of law, the fight against corruption, a healthy economy, and comfortable rural and urban living standards. The division of ministry posts has also been decided, with the Civic Democrats allotted nine posts, and the Christian Democrats and Greens three each. Mirek Topolanek, the coalition's proposed prime minister, says that all ministers will be required to submit a personal property audit which will be kept in a safe at the office of the government. Such a move is meant to ensure transparency and prevent financing scandals that have befallen previous Czech politicians.

Before the official signing, the leader of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, said that the agreement is a compromise for all three participating parties, and that this coalition deserves a chance to govern. The three-party coalition occupies 100 seats in the 200 seat Chamber of Deputies, and it will need the support of at least one Social Democrat or Communist Party member in order to pass a vote of confidence.

Jiri Paroubek will not tolerate new coalition

Reacting to the newly-signed coalition agreement, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, Jiri Paroubek, says that the proposed centre-right government will be impossible to tolerate. Mr. Paroubek told reporters that the coalition agreement is a document structured along the lines of "poor journalism," and on the other hand contains details that would dramatically affect the lives of Czechs. According to Mr. Paroubek, the coalition agreement was made without regard for the concerns of the Social Democratic Party, which won the second largest share of votes in the recent elections. The Social Democratic leader is displeased with the chapter on healthcare, as well as what he sees as the coalition's unclear position on the adoption of the Euro. Meanwhile, deputy Social Democratic leader Bohuslav Sobotka says that his party can not sign a "blank cheque" for the proposed coalition.

In recent days the Civic Democratic and Social Democratic leaders met several times to try and find common ground for support of the new government. Their efforts have been unsuccessful, but Green Party leader Martin Bursik says that Monday's coalition agreement should be a new starting point for dialogue with the Social Democrats.

President Klaus approves of new coalition

Meanwhile, speaking to journalists while on a visit to the south Bohemian city of Ceske Budejovice on Monday, President Vaclav Klaus said that he views the emerging three-party coalition as the most hopeful and reasonable solution to the post-election situation in the Czech Republic. President Klaus is scheduled to meet with Civic Democratic chairman Mirek Topolanek—who is likely the next Czech prime minister—on Tuesday evening.

Anti-missile base could appear in the Czech Republic

The lead candidate for prime minister, Mirek Topolanek of the Civic Democratic Party, has told reporters that he would support the establishment of an American anti-missile base in the Czech Republic. Mr. Topolanek says that such a move would not only contribute to alliance agreements that the Czech Republic has, but would also add to the safety of the Czech state. Mr. Topolanek told the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes that details pertaining to an upcoming visit by a NATO delegation are currently being ironed-out, and that he sees no need for a national referendum on the issue—according to the Civic Democratic leader, the government should decide whether or not to establish the anti-missile base. The matter will be decided within weeks, as the Americans are awaiting an answer by the end of September; Congress will discuss the possible base in the autumn sitting, and construction could begin in 2007. Poland and Hungary are the other possible candidate countries in the running to house the anti-missile base.

New documents show Vojtech Filip collaborated with StB

On Monday Senator Martin Mejstrik, one of the initiators of a proposed law that aspires to ban symbols of communism, presented journalists with proof that the chairman of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, Vojtech Filip, knowingly collaborated with the former communist-era secret police, the StB. The newly-uncovered documents include the protocol that Mr. Filip signed, pledging cooperation with the StB and fulfillment of tasks entrusted to him by the secret police organization. The Ministry of the Interior has just released the key document which proves that Mr. Filip knowingly collaborated with the communist secret police. In the early 1990s Mr. Filip faced similar charges which he denied; a 1993 court ruling concluded that he had not collaborated knowingly. Mr. Filip is currently in the running to become one of the next deputy chairmen of the lower house, a post he also held during the last government's term.

Czech healthcare ranks poorly in comparison to other EU states

According to a study released by Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP), France has the best healthcare system among European Union member countries, while the Czech Republic ranks 22nd among EU states. The ranking is based on five categories: patients' access to information, the waiting period for treatment, the results of care received, the overall generosity of the healthcare system, and access to medicine. Health Consumer Powerhouse, which is based in Stockholm and Brussels, compiles its index based on a combination of public statistics and independent research. Among the new member states of the EU, health services in Estonia and Poland rank better than those of the Czech Republic.

Prague Zoo reintegration program launches fundraising campaign

The Prague Zoo's program of reintroducing endangered animals back into the wild is proving successful, but it needs more money. The director of the Prague Zoo, Petr Fejk, says that at the beginning of the 21st century zoos have many functions, among the most important of which is protecting endangered species, and whenever possible, helping them to return to life in their natural habitats. But the animal reintegration programs are expensive, and the efforts of Prague Zoo are dependent on financial support, a portion of which comes from the international organization of zoological gardens. During the summer months, fundraising in the Czech Republic will be coordinated by a project called 'Help Us Back into the Wild', which will be run in cooperation with zoos in Brno, Ostrava, Liberec, and Usti nad Labem.

Czech meteorologists predict summer storms

Czech meteorologists are warning that the coming days will bring strong summer storms in most parts of the country. People should expect hail and strong winds, as well as rainfalls of up to 40mm at a time. Residents of low-lying areas are being warned that water may flood cellars and garages, and river water levels are expected to rise rapidly.

Otherwise the forecast for the next few days is expected to see sunny skies, with some cloud-cover and temperatures reaching highs between 26 and 34 degrees Celsius.