Prime Minister Stanislav Gross would like to hold the referendum on the European constitution at the same time as the parliamentary elections in 2006. After his return from Rome on Friday evening, where he attended a ceremony at which the EU constitution treaty was signed by EU leaders, Mr Gross defended his position by saying it would save the state 300 to 400 million Czech crowns (10-13 million euros) and would also reveal the true position that individual parties have towards the EU. While the ruling coalition parties support Mr Gross' view, the opposition Civic Democrats and President Vaclav Klaus have opposed it.
Unseeded Czech Jiri Novak booked a place in the final of the 989,750-euro ($1.26 million) Swiss Indoors tournament on Saturday with a 6-4 6-0 win over Austria's Stefan Koubek. Jiri Novak, who knocked British world number four Tim Henman out of the tournament on Friday, needed just 50 minutes to see off the Austrian world number 73. He will face either Argentinean fourth seed David Nalbandian or Chilean seventh seed Nicolas Massu in the final.
Some forty maternity homes around the country may have to be closed down, the National Reference Centre for Health Insurance Companies announced on Saturday. The homes have registered less than 500 births a year, which gynaecologists say is a dangerously low number. Doctors in such maternity homes gain little experience and may not be able to handle complicated cases.
Hong Kong and the Czech Republic have agreed to increase bilateral co-operation in culture, education and trade facilitation. Hong Kong's Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang met with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and other officials in Prague on Friday. According to Mr Tsang, Hong Kong businesses are looking forward to help Czech enterprises enter the vast Mainland market. Other topics discussed were Hong Kong's increased economic co-operation with China's nine southern provinces, and last month's Legislative Council elections. Mr Tsang also said he was pleased that CzechInvest, the country's investment promotion agency, has established its Southeast Asian regional office in Hong Kong.
A new poll conducted by SC&C commissioned by Czech Television suggests
that the right-of-centre Civic Democrats may dominate in upcoming
elections in regional assemblies. If regional elections were held
tomorrow around 31 percent of respondents said they would back the
Civic Democrats, while the Social Democrats would get only19.6 percent
support, followed by the opposition Communist Party at 18.2 percent.
That means that as many as 12 out of 13 regional assemblies could go to the opposition Civic Democrats. At the same time, less than one-third of voters have said they will actually vote.
Regional elections have been planned for November 5th and 6th.
Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross was among the many heads of
government or heads of state on Friday to sign the European Union
Constitution at a special ceremony in Rome. He and Foreign Minister Cyril
Svoboda were second in line to do so following representatives from
Belgium; the signing on Friday took place in the lavish "Orazi and
Curiazi" Hall at the Renaissance Campidoglio Palace, the site where
treaties on the original European Economic Community were signed in 1957.
The newly-signed EU Constitution will now need to be ratified individually by all 25 by EU member states, either by referendum, or by parliamentary vote.
The Czech Republic is among nine EU countries that will hold a referendum.
At a ceremony at Prague Castle on Thursday evening, President Vaclav Klaus awarded state medals to twenty-one individuals. The Order of the White Lion, the highest state distinction, was awarded to WWII veterans Frantisek Fajtl, and Rudolf Severin Krzak, the latter honoured in memoriam. Mr Klaus praised those who openly opposed the Communist system and awarded the Order of T.G. Masaryk to men who were persecuted by the regime. Among those who received orders of merit were Olympic medallist Roman Sebrle, legendary film director Otakar Vavra, and famous Czech actress Jana Brejchova.
The descedents of a Czech family that used to own an engineering firm
nationalised in Prague under the so-called Benes Decrees has been
denied compensation by a Prague court. Four descendents of the original
family, who now live in Canada, were seeking 20 million crowns in
compensation, the equivalent of around 660, 000 euros, for the J.
Kaminecek and Co. firm which was nationalised in 1946. The
nationalisation process in Czechoslovakia at the time affected
companies employing more than 500.
On Friday the Prague court said its ruling followed legislation recognising restitution rights only after the cut-off date of 1948. The family's lawyer has said members plan to appeal.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus has accused the cabinet of playing down the importance of the country's approval of the European Constitution. While the official signing ceremony will be taking place in Rome on Friday, the cabinet waited until Wednesday to approve the draft constitution in order to give some time for discussion, Mr Klaus said.
Czechs marked the 86th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia on
Thursday with several events around the country. Although Czechoslovakia
split into two separate states - the Czech Republic and Slovakia - on
January 1st 1993, the national holiday continues to be celebrated every
year in the Czech Republic but is no longer marked in neighbouring
Czech President Vaclav Klaus said October 28th was a very significant holiday as it was a day that the nation's ancestors had anticipated for an entire century. Mr Klaus placed a wreath at the statue of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the founder and first president of Czechoslovakia, at Prague Castle, and visited his grave in nearby Lany. As has become tradition, the Czech President also received foreign diplomats.