Czech political parties are selecting their candidates for president in next year's presidential elections. President Klaus has announced his decision to seek re-election and it is expected that he will get full backing from the centre right Civic Democratic Party. However he could not hope to win without support from the Christian Democratic Party which is divided over the matter. Only some of its members are willing to support Mr. Klaus, others are looking around for a different candidate. The opposition Social Democrats want to pit a female candidate against Vaclav Klaus and the Greens have said they like the idea. If the Social Democrats find a candidate who would win broad support Mr. Klaus' position would be threatened.
Jiri Menzel's new film "I served the King of England" received four Czech Lion Awards and was voted film of the year at the prestigious Czech Lion Awards ceremony hosted by the Czech Film and Television Academy on Saturday night. I served the King of England is the director's sixth adaptation of works by Bohumil Hrabal and it recently won the International Federation of Film Critics Award at the Berlinale 2007 Film Festival.
The US missile defense shield which Washington would like to deploy jointly in the Czech Republic and Poland has become a matter of intensive debate and consultations. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek is to discuss the US missile defense project with NATO and EU officials in Brussels on Monday and the issue also tops the agenda of President Klaus' three week visit to the United States. President Klaus, who leaves for the US on Sunday, is to hold talks with US Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
The outcome of a poll conducted by the STEM agency indicates that the majority of Czechs are opposed to hosting a US radar base on Czech territory. Seventy percent of respondents said they did not want the US radar base in the Czech Republic, thirty percent said they would agree to it. The poll shows that public interest in the matter is exceptionally high.
The police have arrested three men on suspicion of having attempted to bribe a key witness in the case of Regional Development Minister Jiri Cunek who is accused of corruption. The key witness is the minister's former secretary Marcela Urbanova, who claims she saw him take a half a million crown bribe while he was still mayor of Vsetin. She told the police that the men in question allegedly approached her with an offer of money if she agreed to change her testimony in favour of her former boss. Jiri Cunek is the first government minister to be prosecuted in office. He refuses to resign despite repeated calls for him to do so.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Vondra said in a televised debate on Sunday that the Czech Republic would give a positive reply to the US request to build a radar base on Czech territory. "We will open the way for further talks on the matter - I cannot imagine the government taking a different course of action," Mr. Vondra told viewers. He stressed however that this was merely another step in negotiations and did not legally commit the Czech Republic to hosting the US radar base. That decision would be made by Parliament sometime next year.
The Chairman of Parliament's Committee for European Affairs Ondrej Liska has said he would like to hear a clear stand from the country's EU allies regarding the US missile defense shield. Mr. Liska is a member of the Green Party which has voiced objections to the project on the grounds that it would not address the security needs of the Czech Republic's European allies.
All applicants for jobs in the Czech Armed Forces will in future have to undergo compulsory screening for drug abuse, Defense Minister Vlasta Parkanova told journalists on Friday. The decision comes shortly after it emerged that nine professional soldiers at the prestigious Caslav military air base - home to the country's Gripen fighter jets - use drugs. Tests were ordered at the base after the police arrested two soldiers on suspicion of drug-dealing. Minister Parkanova said that in future all soldiers would be subjected to random tests.
The Austrian government has asked lawyers to look into the possibility
of filing an international lawsuit against the Czech Republic over the
Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia. Chancellor Alfred
Gusenbauer said that the request did not imply that the Austrian
government had firmly decided to take court action. Austria remains
concerned over safety standards at the nuclear plant and anti-nuclear
activists question the Czech Republic's adherence to the so-called Melk
agreement, which binds the Czech Republic to informing its neighbors
about any problems at the plant within a set time limit.
The country's heads of government agreed last week to establish a joint parliamentary commission to monitor safety at Temelin, but Austrian anti-nuclear activists dismissed the talks and have continued to effect border blockades demanding the plant's closure.