News of Radio Prague

Social Democrat leader announces new cabinet

The Social Democrats and the centrist coalition of Christian Democrats and Freedom Union officially signed an agreement on Tuesday to form a government. Leaders of the parties signed the deal after three weeks of talks following general elections in the middle of June.

Social Democrat leader Vladmir Spidla, who is expected to be appointed prime minister by President Vaclav Havel on Monday, told a news conference after the signing that he was confident the government would achieve its main goal - to lead Czechs into the European Union although the ruling coalition has a narrow one seat majority in the 200-seat lower house of parliament.

Last week the three parties agreed to a programme that will slowly reduce the size of the public deficit. Other issues the government will tackle include social benefits, pension reforms, energy privatisation and fighting corruption. The Social Democrats will take 11 out of the 17 cabinet seats and the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, will take the remaining six.

Czech Crown reaches a new record high at 29.06 to euro

The Czech currency reached a new record high on Tuesday with an exchange rate of 29.04 per euro and 29.24 per US dollar. Later in the day it weakened a little but remains stronger than ever. Dealers say the strengthening of the crown has been caused by large purchases of crowns by clients rather than by favourable inflation figures for June. The crown was the only currency to strengthen in the Central and East European region as the Polish zloty and Hungarian forint posted significant losses on Tuesday. The market is speculating that at the end of July, the central bank may cut interest rates and intervene on the market to weaken the crown.

Sparta Praha goalkeeper Cech transfers to French team Rennes

Football - the Czech national team's goalkeeper Petr Cech, until now a member of Sparta Prague, has signed a four-year contract with the French club FC Rennes. The French club will pay nearly 5 million USD for the under-21 European champion who has become the most expensive Czech goalkeeper ever. Cech flies to Paris on Wednesday. Cech declined offers from Lazio Roma and English clubs Arsenal and Everton.

Tennis - Stepanek wins in first round of Swiss Open

Tennis -Czech Radek Stepanek defeated Francisco Clavet of Spain 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the Swiss Open.

Czech weather report

A low pressure area with a cold front will be moving to Central Europe from the West, bringing cloudy weather with showers and thunderstorms later in the day. The highest daytime temperatures should range from 29 to 34 degrees Celsius.