The right-of-centre Civic Democrats in the European Parliament have
demanded an apology from the vice-president of the European Parliament,
Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca, as well as another EP member for comments
made on Wednesday. The EP vice-president, along with the chairman of
the constitutional committee, Jo Leinen, criticised Mr Klaus for his EU
stance, saying statements the Czech president had recently made about
the European Union were 'prejudiced' and 'untrue'. Mr Klaus reacted on
Thursday by saying he found both men's offensive. He has sent a letter
to the chairman of the European Parliament, Joseph Borell, asking him
to take a stance.
The opposition Civic Democrat MPs in the European Parliament have also reacted by calling the criticism "scandalous".
The administrator of the Zbrojovka Brno arms manufacturer in Brno has said he aims to stabilise production at the plant as soon as possible before putting it up for sale. He estimated the price at around 100 million crowns (close to 4 million U.S.). Several parties have reportedly expressed an interest in buying the arms firm, which produces guns for hunting and sport.
A source close to Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has told a Czech news website, novinky.cz, that Mr Gross will resign as prime minister next Monday, bringing to an end a prolonged government crisis that first erupted in January. At stake in the crisis: the prime minister's questionable personal finances. Mr Gross' replacement as prime minister will now be fellow Social Democrat and the Minister for Local Development Jiri Paroubek, who will lead an old-new coalition of three parties (the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats, & the Freedom Union), enjoying the slimmest of majorities in Parliament.
Ten years after being founded and led by Jiri Belohlavek, the Prague Chamber Philharmonic will now be led by 35-year-old Swiss conductor Kaspar Zehnder. The post of conducting the Prague Chamber Philharmonic became available after Jiri Belohlavek was named to take over as the chief conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra next year.
One of the country's opposition parties in Parliament, the Communist Party, has already made clear that it will not back the new government, though it may support some legislation. Vice chairman Jiri Dolejs said on Thursday the Communists would be willing to back laws close to their own agenda. Though specific bills were not named, he and others indicated they might willingly back bills related to the social and economic spheres.
The opposition Civic Democrats have proposed that the Lower House of
Parliament should have the option of voting to dissolve itself in times
of government crisis. The Civic Democrats have said they will soon
present a constitutional amendment in the Senate to this effect. In
their view, a vote on dissolving the Chamber would first be preceded by
the resignation of the government and a presidential proposal. A
majority of deputies would have to vote in favour of the measure for it
The Civic Democrats' proposal comes after the government resolved months of political haggling and crisis. In the Civic Democrats' view dissolving the Lower House would bring a swifter resolution to such crises, allowing the president to swiftly call new elections.
Some of the names more or less confirmed to stay on in their current posts in the new government include Health Minister Milada Emmerova, Education Minister Petra Buzkova and the Vice-premier for Economic Affairs Martin Jahn. Of the three only Mr Jahn is not affiliated with the ruling Social Democratic Party. Some Social Democrats reportedly objected to Mr Jahn's place in the new government on the grounds his policies were too removed from the Social Democrats'. Provided the Social Democratic Party's Central Committee now approves the new coalition agreement (Saturday) the new government could be named by the president on Monday.
The Czech Roman Catholic church has called for churches around the country to fly the Vatican flag between Wednesday and Sunday in honour of the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI. However, due to a shortage of yellow and white Vatican flags, Czech church leaders have asked their colleagues in Slovakia to send some as soon as possible.
The politician chosen to replace Stanislav Gross as Czech prime minister,
Jiri Paroubek, says the composition of his cabinet should be clear by
Thursday at the latest. Mr Paroubek, a deputy chairman of the Social
Democrats and currently minister for regional development, says he does
not expect many ministerial changes. Representatives of his party, the
Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union met on Wednesday to discuss
their continued co-operation in government.
The coalition formed by the three parties after elections in 2002 broke down recently, after Mr Gross and his wife became embroiled in a scandal concerning their personal finances. The prime minister is expected to resign formally after a meeting of senior Social Democrats on Saturday
President Vaclav Klaus said on Wednesday he would not react to the latest developments until Mr Gross showed him a signed coalition agreement and tendered his resignation.