The leader of the opposition Social Democrats Jiří Paroubek told Czech TV on Sunday that his party would not form a coalition government with the communists after the next general elections. The Social Democrats scored a landslide victory in recent regional and senate elections; in 5 of the country’s 13 regions, they formed regional governments with direct or indirect involvement of the Communist Party. The opposition leader said however that his party was not going to cooperate with the communists on national level.
Two miners died in a mining accident in northern Moravia on Saturday. The accident, which occurred shortly before midnight in a mine near the city of Ostrava, was caused by a tremor measuring 3.3 degrees on the Richter scale. The 39-year-old and 46-year-old Polish nationals were working together with another 19 miners more than 700 metres below the surface. All of the other miners were evacuated; three of them suffered minor injuries. This year, seven people have died in north Moravian mines.
Heavy snowfall and strong winds snarled traffic across the Czech Republic over the weekend. Most roads are covered with a layer of wet snow and slush; drivers also have to face strong winds, snowdrifts and subzero temperatures. Several accidents happened along the major D1 motorway between Prague and Brno on Saturday, causing delays. The authorities strongly advise drivers to use tire chains in the country’s mountainous regions in northern and eastern Bohemia. Bad weather is expected to last well into the coming week.
The latest play by the playwright and former Czech President Václav Havel premiered in the Slovak National Theatre in the capital Bratislava on Saturday. The premiere of the drama “Leaving” was attended by several Slovak politicians; the head of the strongest opposition party, the Christian Democrats, and former Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda said politicians could recognize themselves in the play. Václav Havel, who was also present at the premiere, served as the last president of Czechoslovakia between 1989 and 1992. Slovakia is the third foreign country, after the UK and Poland, where Václav Havel’s latest play has been staged.
President of Slovenia Danilo Türk is set to visit the Czech Republic in early December, according to the Czech president’s personal website klaus.cz. The Slovenian head of state is set to arrive on December 8, some three weeks before the Czech Republic assumes the presidency of the European Union. Slovenia was the first of the new EU member states to have held the rotating EU presidency.
More than 14 billion crowns, or over 680 million US dollars, is needed to finish various water processing projects around the country, the Environment Ministry said on Sunday. The costs will have to be covered by public funds or commercial credits, as EU funding is no longer available for such purposes. The Union of Towns and Municipalities of the Czech Republic has criticized the government because the costs might increase the price of water. The Environment Ministry also warned that several large Czech cities including Prague could face serious water-processing problems.
An exhibition of nearly 400 nativity scenes opened in the south Moravian town of Hodonín on Sunday. Nativity scenes are a traditional part of Czech Christmas; they are usually made of wood, ceramics, corn or ginger bread. The largest scene on display is six metres tall; the exhibition also features a Romany nativity scene on loan from the Museum of Romany Culture in Brno.
Czech centre Jiří Hudler scored a winning goal for the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday in their 5:2 win over Calgary. This was his fourth score in the last three games. Colorado’s Milan Hejduk opened the score in a game against Los Angeles, and he scored another goal at the shoot-out which secured the Avalanche’s victory of 4:3. In the Continental Hockey League, Jakub Klepiš scored all three goals for Russia’s Osmk in a win over Voskresensk.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has said that President Václav Klaus is not fully familiar with the reality of the European Union. In an interview published by the Austrian daily Der Standard on Saturday, Mr Schwarzenberg said that like every critic, President Klaus was right in many issues, but the EU reality escaped him. Czech President Václav Klaus, known for his euro-scepticism, met with a leading opponent of the Lisbon treaty, Declan Ganley during his recent visit to Ireland. The meeting provoked a strong reaction from the Irish government. In the interview for the Austrian daily, Mr Schwarzenberg also rejected doubts about the adoption of the Lisbon treaty in the Czech Republic, and said that the Czech government was stable and in no danger of falling during the country’s upcoming EU presidency.
Green MPs Olga Zubová and Věra Jakubková left their party’s deputies’ group on Saturday during a party congress in Pardubice. Ms Zubová also resigned as the head of the Green Party’s national council. The two politicians cited long-term disputes with party leadership as the reason but said they were not going to leave the Green Party as well. Both MPs have consistently voted against the ruling coalition in the lower house of the Czech Parliament; they are opposed to some of the key coalition projects such as the health care reforms and the positioning of a US radar base in the Czech Republic. Both MPs said however that they still considered themselves part of the coalition.