Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said he will aim to discuss
ratification of the EU constitution with both opposition parties, the
Civic Democrats and the Communists. On Sunday he said that both
supporters and opponents of the treaty will be invited to take part in
the first phase of a planned information campaign. A meeting of Social
Democrat and Civic Democrat leaders has been set for Monday. Unlike the
right-of-centre Civic Democrats, the Communist Party wants the
information campaign to go ahead in the Czech Republic, although party
members are undecided as to whether or not the ratification process
should be suspended. The prime minister has indicated the campaign
would be launched after the mid-June EU summit, set to discuss further
steps following the French and Dutch votes.
The government will earmark a total of 200 million crowns (over 8 million US dollars) for the campaign on the EU constitution.
The Czech Republic's demolition of Andorra in World Cup qualifying on
Saturday saw a number of new team records set, not least the record for
highest number of goals in a single match. A Czech national football
side had never before scored 8 goals in a game: the closest it came was
twice in the 1920s, both times hitting 7 goals against former
Saturday's qualifier saw striker Jan Koller also set a new record for most goals scored by a player for the national team (breaking the 34 mark set by the legendary Antonin Puc), while team captain Tomas Galasek scored his first international goal in 43 starts.
Despite the win, the Czechs remain 2nd in their qualifying group, one point behind the Netherlands, whose team defeated Romania on Saturday by a score of 2:0.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has stressed that, in his view, there is no
point in continuing
with the ratification of the current version of the European constitution
following its rejection by France and the Netherlands. Speaking on a TV
discussion programme on Sunday the president suggested, for example, that
an alternative text be found, one that - in his view - did not
"infringe on peoples' lives". While opposed to the constitution
treaty, Mr Klaus said he would not veto any move by the Czech government
and Parliament to hold a referendum to ratify the document.
Following the two "No" votes last week Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek emphasised that the ratification process should continue in remaining countries.
The Sunday paper Nedelni svet has written in its latest edition that Social Democrat MP and head of the Parliamentary Committee for the Economy Josef Hojdar is in danger of being expelled from party ranks. The paper outlines two reasons, one being a procedural mistake in Mr Hojdar's election as head of the party district branch in the north-west Bohemian town of Most; the second is opposition within his party to the Social Democrats' so-called left-wing faction, of which Mr Hojdar is a part. Nedelni svet quotes one Social Democrat as blaming Mr Hojdar for helping to bring down former prime ministers Vladimir Spidla and Stanislav Gross. The paper writes that if Mr Hojdar is expelled it could threaten the stability of the government which would lose its slim one-vote majority in the Lower House.
The Czech Republic's national football squad defeated Andorra in its World Cup qualifier by a score of 8:1 on Saturday in the north Bohemian town of Liberec. Vratislav Lokvenc opened the scoring while others who put the ball in the net included Vladimir Smicer, Milan Baros, and team captain Tomas Galasek, who scored his first goal for the national side. The lop-sided win earns the Czech Republic 3 points and puts the Czechs atop of their group at 18 pts. The Netherlands are currently 2nd and next face Romania. The Czech Rep will next see action against Macedonia on Wednesday.
Human rights activists lit candles outside the Chinese Embassy in Prague Friday to mark the 16th anniversary of the massacre in the centre of Beijing in Tiananmen Square in which hundreds were reported killed and injured, with hundreds imprisoned. Friday's commemorative event in Prague was organised by the Olympic Watch and Amnesty International. About thirty people attended Friday's event which began in front of the Government Office. Organisers read a letter addressed to Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, presenting it to government officials. The prime minister is to due to visit China later this month. The two organisations asked that he promote respect for human rights in negotiations with the Chinese government.
A tanker truck crashed near Podebrady, east of Prague, on Saturday, spilling some 17,000 litres of petrol and 12,000 litres of diesel oil. The truck turned over in a bend, which the driver failed to manoeuvre. Fire fighters have been cleaning up at the scene. The accident has been described as the worst of its kind in the area of Podebrady in years.
The US State Department has again ranked the Czech Republic as a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. The report outlines as dominant the trafficking of women and children from countries which include Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Vietnam, for purposes of prostitution and sexual abuse. Also outlined is the problem of interior trafficking of Romani women. In 2004, the Czech Republic tightened legislation against traffickers as well as broadened a pilot programme helping victims nation-wide. In 2004, 30 cases of trafficking in the Czech Republic were investigated, with 19 going to court. 12 people involved in trafficking were convicted - up from 5 the previous year.
54 percent of respondents in a recent poll have said that the president should act in concordance with the cabinet with regards to foreign policy, and follow the political course set by the Foreign Ministry. The poll was conducted by the CVVM polling agency in April and released Friday. More than one-fourth of respondents said that the president did not have to follow the government's recommendations. Recently Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and President Vaclav Klaus found themselves at odds in an argument over foreign policy, with Mr Paroubek insisting it was primarily the responsibility of the cabinet and not the president. President Klaus and Mr Paroubek later settled their dispute at Prague Castle, agreeing to coordinate their standpoints during visits abroad.
The Czech Republic's foreign trade balance showed a surplus of 5.1 billion crowns /168.8 million euros/ in April, showing the largest year-on-year growth in its 12 year history. Year on year the surplus grew by 16 billion crowns, from a 10.9 billion deficit in April 2004, the Czech Statistical Office said. The main reasons were an improved balance in trade in machinery and transport equipment, chemicals and related products and manufactured goods classified mainly by material.