The leaderships of the three ruling parties are meeting separately for consultations following the collapse of talks on an addendum to the coalition agreement on Sunday. The talks ended abruptly late Sunday night after the two stronger parties in government -the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 – told the junior party Public Affairs they were not willing to debate any further demands. Public Affairs –which had called for a re-write of the coalition agreement, four ministerial posts and newly a bigger budget for the transport ministry will now have to decide whether it is willing to remain in the centre-right cabinet under the present conditions. Public Affairs had threatened to walk out of the government unless an addendum to the coalition agreement was concluded by the end of the month. No further talks between the three parties have been scheduled.
On a visit to neighbouring Slovakia, President Vaclav Klaus down-played the political developments in his homeland saying that tension and squabbles were common in this coalition government, but that they did not present a serious threat. Mr. Klaus said that serious as things might look, he would not call this a crisis and was confident that a solution would be found. On a three day visit to Slovakia President Klaus on Monday met with his Slovak counterpart Ivan Gasparovic.
An international conference entitled “Europe – Whole and Free? Two Decades Since the End of the Warsaw Pact” opened in Prague on Monday, in Černín Palace, in the very same building where the Warsaw Treaty Organization was dissolved 20 years ago. Speakers hailed the non-violent demise of the Soviet-led military alliance which they said boosted security in Europe and helped unify the continent. The conference which is to last through Thursday is organized jointly by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defence in cooperation with the non-governmental organization Opona. Among the distinguished guests present are the former president of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, former German foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Malcolm Rifkind, former defence and foreign secretary of the United Kingdom and others. Former Czech president Václav Havel is not present due to health problems.
The Czech Republic will support Macedonia in its effort to become a member of the EU and NATO, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas said following talks with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski in Prague on Monday. Mr. Nečas said the Czech Republic supported the EU’s expansion to the Balkan states as a guarantee of greater stability on the continent and said the Czech Republic was ready to share its accession know-how. The two heads of government agreed to further boost economic ties and smooth the way for mutual foreign investment.
The Czech Republic on Monday handed over chairmanship of the Decade of Roma Inclusion project to Macedonia. The project, initiated in 2005 by the World Bank and the Open Society Institute, is an international effort on the part of 8 central and east European countries to tackle a wide range of educational and social disadvantages faced by Roma communities in this part of the world. During its cahirmanship the Czech Republic established five priorities – giving Roma children equal opportunities in education, improving the position of Roma women and children, involving the Roma in local administration and improving the media profile of the Roma minority.
A group of human rights’ activists have called on Czech top officials to openly voice their support for Chinese prisoner of conscience Gao Zhisheng. The group which met in the Senate on the occasion of the launch of the Czech version of the lawyer’s book A China More Just - My Fight as a Human Rights’ Lawyer in the World's Largest Communist State, called on the Czech president, prime minister and foreign minister to bring up the human rights issue in talks with Chinese top officials. They criticized the fact that on too many past occasions human rights issues have been overshadowed by economic interests.
Former political prisoners, government and parliament officials and cultural figures gathered in Pankrac prison on Monday to mark the 61st anniversary of the murder of democratic politician Milada Horakova after a show trial in the communist 1950s. Pleas for clemency by the likes of Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill a Eleanor Roosevelt failed to have any effect. The only woman murdered by the regime, Horakova became a symbol of anti-communist resistance. Gatherings commemorating the victims of communism took place in other parts of the country.
Tuesday’s general strike in Greece is expected to disrupt most transportation including air travel, a spokeswoman for the flight company Travel Service told the CTK news agency on Monday. Passengers heading for Greece are likely to have their flights re-scheduled and have been asked to contact the agency for the latest developments. According to the company the strike will affect at least ten flights bound for Greece. Some 2,000 people are bound for Greece by air on Tuesday. The strike is expected to close down airports in Greece from 7 to 11 am and then again from 5 to 9 pm.
The poor technical condition of Czech buses and overworked drivers are behind the heightened number of accidents involving Czech tourist busses abroad, the daily Lidove noviny says in its Monday edition, citing experts. The Association of Czech Travel Agencies has called on its members to exert more pressure on bus companies to correct these deficiencies. There are also calls for tougher road controls which would prevent companies from dispatching buses which are not in top condition and sending out less than experienced drivers in the interest of making the most of the tourist season. There were three serious accidents involving Czech tourist buses in the month of June.
The health authorities have issued warnings that the threat from infected ticks has reached a peak. Three thousand people have sought medical attention after developing problems from tick-bites since the start of the season. Doctors warn untreated tick bites can lead to serious cases of Lyme disease or worse, tick-borne encephalitis, or TBE, an infection of the brain that can prove fatal.