News

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Czech Republic knocked out of World Cup

The Czech Republic have been knocked out of the World Cup after losing 2:0 to Italy. The Czechs were down to ten men after Jan Polak was sent off for a foul on Francesco Totti. This World Cup was the first appearance of Czechs at the tournament in 16 years and will likely mark the final international appearance for players like Pavel Nedved and Karel Poborsky.

Leaders of the Civic Democrats and Social Democrats no closer to agreement

Leaders of the two major political parties in the Czech Republic—the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats—have met again, but they have not yet reached an agreement on support for the developing centre-right coalition. Mirek Topolanek, the Civic Democratic leader, is looking for additional support from the Social Democrats that would give his 100-seat coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Greens a chance of survival. However, meetings between Mr. Topolanek and Jiri Paroubek, the Social Democratic leader and outgoing prime minister, have produced little in the way of a satisfactory compromise. Their next meeting is scheduled for Friday.

Mr. Topolanek told the daily Hospodarske Noviny that he is estimating a 50:50 chance that his coalition will survive a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies. According to Mr. Topolanek, the Social Democrats are trying to eliminate the smaller parties, especially the Christian Democrats, from a coalition agreement. Relations between the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats have been very strained since spring 2005, when the Social Democratic Prime Minister Stanislav Gross was forced to step-down after accusations of financial misdealing; he did not receive support from Christian Democrats who were then members of the government coalition.

Czechs divided on who should govern

According to the latest opinion poll by the STEM agency, Czechs remain divided on who should govern the country. 51% of the 627 people polled would prefer Civic Democratic chairman, Mirek Topolanek, as the next prime minister, while 49% of those questioned disagree.

Furthermore, in a Czech TV survey 50% of respondents said they approve of a coalition government composed of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens. The majority of Czechs are firmly opposed to a grand coalition between the two largest political parties, the Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats.

Health Minister files criminal complaint against shadow minister

Outgoing Social Democratic Health Minister, David Rath, has filed a criminal complaint against Civic Democratic Senator Tomas Julinek, who also serves as the shadow health minister. Mr. Rath told reporters on Thursday that he filed the complaint because he suspects that Mr. Julinek's Alliance for Healthcare Reform is financed by foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers. Mr. Julinek denies the accusation. Mr. Rath has called on Senator Julinek to publicize the names of the companies which have donated money to his organization, along with the sums involved.

This news comes two days after it was made public that Mr. Rath is being investigated by the police for his potential role in the disappearance of 13.7 million crowns (over $604 000 USD). The money disappeared from the budget of the Czech Chamber of Doctors while Mr. Rath was the director.

Czechs traveling to Australia can apply for visas on-line

Visa relations between the Czech Republic and Australia are about to become much simpler. Starting this summer, Czech citizens will be able to apply for an Australian visa on-line, reducing the administrative time to mere minutes and eliminating lines at embassies. Czechs will also no longer be required to provide confirmation of insurance, or bank account statements. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda considers the change a great diplomatic success for the Czech Republic. Although Czechs still require a visa to Australia, Australian citizens may travel to the Czech Republic without a visa. Officials in Canberra have not revealed when visa requirements could be dropped altogether.

Car-maker Praga plans move to Lublin, Poland

The legendary Czech car-maker Praga is moving its production line to Poland. The British company International Truck Alliance has purchased the rights to manufacture vehicles under the Praga brand, and it intends to move these operations to a factory in Lublin, Poland. The company plans to produce its new Pragovek model prototypes during the later half of this year, and these models will be available for trial testing on the Czech and Polish market in 2007. Full-scale production is scheduled to begin in 2008. Praga, which was originally based in the central Bohemian city of Caslav, filed for bankruptcy in 2004. The company is known for manufacturing vehicles used primarily by the governmental sector.

Heat wave puts emergency medical services on alert

The continuing heat wave in the Czech Republic is causing an increase in the need for emergency medical services. In Prague there were over 100 emergency cases attended to on Wednesday alone, including incidents of heart failure, spontaneous collapsing, and epileptic seizures. Patients are also showing frequent signs of high blood pressure and sun burns. Doctors are warning the elderly and people with respiratory problems to avoid the outdoors. People are also reminded that they should take care to stay away from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, and to stay properly hydrated, drinking at least 2.5 liters of water per day.

Weather

The current sunny and warm weather is expected to continue in the next few days, but heavy rain and occasional thunder storms have also been forecast. Daytime highs will be around 30 degrees Celsius.