The Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Nečas said on Sunday that the government coalition would further discuss plans to site a US radar on Czech soil before bringing any bill to parliament. In an interview with Czech Television, Mr Nečas said that further negotiation was needed with the Civic Democrat’s coalition partners to maximize the bill’s chances of success. On the same programme, a member of the coalition, Green MP Olga Zubová, said that she did not agree with the construction of the base under the current conditions, and would not be supporting the bill. The government needs a majority in the Lower House – 101 votes – to pass the bill. It currently has less than this number of votes pledged, with two Green MPs, and Christian Democrat Ludvík Hovorka having serious doubts about which way to vote, and Social Democrat defectors Miloš Melčák and Michal Pohanka also reticent to approve the base.
Head of the Czech Green Party Martin Bursík has said that the European Green Party has softened its stance on the construction of a US anti-missile defence shield on Czech soil. At a meeting of Green Party MPs from around the continent in Slovenia on Sunday, a resolution leaving the final decision on the US radar up to the Czech Green Party was passed with a massive majority. The Dutch Green party had originally drafted a proposal which rejected the project unconditionally, but this proposal was amended by the Czech Greens present at the session. The decision is now up to them, but the party remains divided on the issue, with Mr Bursík and senior MP Kateřina Jacques for the construction of a US radar, and deputy Olga Zubová telling Czech Television on Sunday that she could not vote for such a base.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has called for greater cooperation between Czech and Brazilian investors during a visit to the Czech Republic largely aimed to promote trade. In a joint press conference with his Czech counterpart Václav Klaus on Saturday, Lula called upon Czech businessmen to visit Brazil more frequently, and said that Brazilian entrepreneurs should set out to familiarize themselves with the Czech economy. Brazil is Prague’s top Latin American trading partner, with Brazilian exports of mostly agricultural goods in 2007 totaling six billion crowns (380 million USD).
The Czech Communist Party would support the opposition Social Democrats should they bring a vote of no confidence against the government, said the deputy head of the party Jiří Dolejš in an interview on Sunday. The Social Democrats are looking to instigate a vote of no confidence against the current government, their third since the elections two years ago. The Social Democrats have said that they are unhappy with the government’s stance on building a US radar base in the Czech Republic and the current pensions system. On Sunday, Mr Dolejš waded into the argument by saying that the current government did not enjoy his party’s confidence, and that he would not therefore seek to ‘sabotage’ the opposition’s proposals.
The head of the Czech Confederation of Industry, Jaroslav Míl, has said that he thinks it is unrealistic to talk about the country’s entry in the European single currency before 2013 at the earliest. In an interview with Václav Moravec for Czech Television, Mr Míl said that the government should set a date for euro adoption, but stressed that adoption of the common currency would not be possible before overhauling further the healthcare and pensions systems. The Czech Finance Ministry planned to have the Czech Republic ready for euro-entry by 2012, but that date has been postponed indefinitely. Governor of the Czech National Bank, Zdeněk Tůma, has said that the country could feasibly adopt the single European currency as late as in 2019.
Over 100 people gathered in Prague on Sunday to march against racism and anti-Semitism. The march started on Franz Kafka Square in Prague’s Jewish quarter and ended up in the Senate’s Valdštejn Gardens, where the crowds were addressed by the head of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka. The march was organized as a protest against recent neo-Nazi marches to have taken place in Prague and Plzeň. Isreali and Czech flags were waved throughout the march, and traditional Jewish songs were sung. European commissioner for Education and Culture Ján Figel’ also addressed those present.
Politicians are discussing whether to go green, and to reduce the amount of paper used in parliament. A parliamentary committee is discussing whether to present MPs with the proposals and documents they are set to discuss in an electronic format, rather than on paper. It is thought that each document set for discussion in parliament is printed between 240 and 380 times. Furthermore, a document such as the recent public finance reform proposal comes in at over two kilograms in weight. Last year, it is thought that the Czech parliament spent nearly 640,000 CZK (40,500 USD) on paper. The proposal to make all documents available over the parliamentary intranet, however, still needs to be approved by lawmakers, and could only be implemented in four months time at the earliest.
Tomáš Berdych was forced to retire with a leg injury in the first of the Czech Republic’s Davis Cup matches on Sunday, sending opponents Russia into the tournament’s semi-finals. Nikolay Davydenko recorded his seventh win over Berdych in as many matches and gave Russia an unassailable 3-1 advantage in the quarter-finals of the tournament, being held in Moscow. The Russians had gone 2-1 ahead yesterday when Davydenko and Igor Andreev beat Radek Štěpánek and Pavel Vízner in the men’s doubles. On Friday, the scores were one apiece with Russia’s Marat Safin battling from two sets down to get the better of Berdych, and Štěpánek experiencing few troubles beating Andreev in straight sets. Russia will now face either Sweden or Argentina in the semis.
In the NHL, Czech goalkeeper Dominik Hašek led his team the Detroit Red Wings to a 4:2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday. The win gives the Red Wings a 2:0 lead in this best-of-seven series against the Predators, in the first round of the NHL play offs. Hašek stopped 25 shots, while fellow Czech and team mate Jiří Hudler notched up one assist.
Czechs and Americans negotiating the terms on which US soldiers would be allowed to live on Czech soil did not reach an agreement on Friday as they had hoped. Delegates negotiating the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) were unable to agree on questions of income tax and the criminal jurisdiction of American troops on Czech soil. Czech prime minister Mirek Topolánek has said that the agreement will now have to be signed in early May, at the same time as a Czech-American treaty paving the way for a US radar base to be stationed on Czech soil.