Prime Minister and opposition party head fail to reach agreement

Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek of the Social Democrats and the leader of the country's largest opposition party, the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, have failed to find consensus on the future of the European constitution and planned reforms to the Czech Republic's pension system. After a two-hour top-secret meeting on Monday between the prime minister and Mirek Topolanek, the prime minister told reporters that both sides would retain their previous stances. Mr Paroubek has made clear he will press for the EU constitution ratification process to continue. At the weekend he said that even opponents of the treaty - like the Civic Democrats - would be invited to address the first phase of a planned information campaign.

Author: Jan Velinger