The Czech government has rejected the country’s foreign policy concept proposed by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on the grounds that it was too pro-European, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Friday. At the cabinet’s session on Wednesday, Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra criticized the concept for failing to take into account the ongoing crisis of the Eurozone as well as the Czech Republic’s opt-out from the Lisbon Treaty’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. President Václav Klaus also slammed the policy document for similar reasons. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told the daily he was ready to complement the concept but under no circumstance would he change his European policy.
The police have filed charges against two people in connection with Thursday’s trade union strike, police spokeswoman Eva Kopáčová told the CTK news agency on Friday. One is a woman who assaulted a police officer in a skirmish outside the Czech Finance Ministry; the other is a man who smashed the glass doors to the metro in a fit of rage after finding it closed for the day. The police spokeswoman said there had only been one serious incident in the course of the day-long protest a skirmish outside the Finance Ministry when Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek unexpectedly walked out to talk to talk to demonstrators. He was showered with insults and in some cases tomatoes and eggs, though none hit their target. It was then that a member of the anti-conflict team present was assaulted by one of the protesters who hit him over the head with a megaphone. She could face up to four years in prison.
The anti-corruption police has shelved the case against the former environment minister Pavel Drobil on the order of state attorney Šárka Pokorná. The reason cited was that the available evidence did not give grounds to start criminal proceedings against the former top official. Drobil resigned in disgrace in late 2010 after being caught on tape dangling a promotion before whistleblower Libor Michálek, the head of the State Environment Fund, in exchange for Michálek destroying evidence that pointed to systemic kickbacks within the ministry that were redirected into a Civic Democratic Party slush fund. Michálek was later fired. Drobil resigned, and the events spurred the first in a series of government crises.
Police president Petr Lesy has expressed anger over the decision, saying it was the intention of the police to ask Parliament to strip deputy Pavel Drobil of his immunity. In an interview for Lidove Noviny Mr. Lesy made it clear that the police did not share the opinion that Mr. Drobil’s behavior did not constitute a criminal act and that the team on the case had assembled enough evidence against the former environment minister to take him to court.
Trade union leaders are demanding the withdrawal and redrafting of the government’s reform bills to open the way for broad public consensus as well as the dismissal of Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek over the way he behaved during Thursday’s anti-government demonstration. The demands were published in the wake of Thursday’s 24 hour transport strike which trade unions see as a unanimous victory. Trade union leaders have indicated they are expecting significant concessions from government leaders at a tripartite meeting on Monday and have threatened further strike action if their demands are not met. They also insist that Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek should leave his post saying he intentionally provoked an incident outside the Finance Ministry during Thursday’s protest.
The majority of Czechs believe that the country’s centre-right government is in the process of gradual disintegration, marked by incompetence and inability to govern. According to a survey conducted by the polling agency Sanep, close to 77 percent of Czechs believe that the government is slowly falling apart and over 71 percent of Czechs consider Prime Minister Petr Nečas to be a weak and incompetent head of state. At the same time 56 percent of respondents said they did not believe a cabinet reshuffle could extend its lease on life. Asked which cabinet ministers should go, respondents concluded that only three were competent enough to stay - Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil and Interior Minister Jan Kubice.
Czechs are gradually overcoming the taboo surrounding mental health care. Last year close to half a million Czechs visited a psychiatrist, mostly in connection with problems stemming from a stressful lifestyle and job insecurity. Psychiatrists also say more people voluntarily seek treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. Since the year 2,000 psychiatrists have registered a 43 percent increase in the number of patients.
The former head of commercial TV Nova Petr Dvorak on Friday confirmed he would run for the post of director of Czech public television. In a statement for the ctk news agency he said the restructuring of Czech television had been bungled and was leading to a gradual slide in quality. He likewise criticized the lack of cooperation between individual channels. The post of Czech TV director will be vacant at the end of the summer when the current head Jiri Janecek will leave for health reasons.
Czech pop singer Lucie Vondráčková and Czech hockey star Tomas Plekanec tied the knot in Prague on Friday in what was said to be a small private wedding for family and friends. The couple met last year and now live in Montreal where Plekanec plays for NHL Montreal Canadiens with whom he has a six-year contract. They are expecting their first child.
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