A new court ruling has once again reversed the decision on the ownership of Opocno Chateau in Eastern Bohemia. According to the Rychnov district court the chateau belongs to the National Heritage Institute, thereby the state. Two earlier court rulings returned the chateau to the last private owners, the Colorado-Mansfeld family, but the Constitutional Court abolished both verdicts in January, bringing the restitution suit back to square one. The property was confiscated on the grounds of the post war Benes decrees and the Colorado Mansfeld family has battled since 1995 to get it back. The case hinges on whether the former owner Collorado Mansfeld was a Czechoslovak citizen and whether he collaborated with the Nazis.
On an official visit to Israel, President Vaclav Klaus expressed appreciation for the government's "groundbreaking peace initiative" saying that Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip had restored faith in the Middle East peace process and that it was now up to the Palestinian leadership to show goodwill. Meeting with the Israeli President Moshe Katsav, Mr. Klaus said that the Czech Republic would support a balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the European Union.
A study commissioned by the Czech Chamber of Dentists suggests that in the next 15 years the number of dentists in the Czech Republic could drop by a third, unless medical schools receive more money from the state. The 100 or so graduates every year cannot make up for those who retire. Also many young dentists leave for EU countries where they get paid much higher salaries.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has denied that a change of leadership within the Communist Party is to open the way for a coalition with the Social Democrats after next year's general elections. Mr. Paroubek told journalists that if his party should win the elections then he would favour either a coalition with the Christian Democrats, a grand coalition or a minority government. The Prime Minister said that the Communist Party would have to change more than its leader in order to open the way for closer cooperation.
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed an amendment to a law banning the transformation of hospitals owned by regions into business companies. The amendment will now go back to the lower house which is expected to override the president's veto as the two parties which pushed it through, the Social Democrats and the Communists, have a comfortable majority in the chamber. The Health Minister, Social Democrat Milada Emmerova, says she wants to prevent the transformation of hospitals as she believes they would no longer provide a full range of health care but concentrate instead on more profitable branches of medicine.
One of the two smaller parties in the ruling coalition, the Christian Democrats, have said they will not support the removal from office of the Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova proposed by the Justice Minister Pavel Nemec of the Freedom Union. The Christian Democrats say they are convinced that politicians must not influence decisions in criminal cases. Relations between Ms Benesova and Mr Nemec have been tense for several months because of certain criminal cases and the crisis culminated a few days ago when Minister Nemec launched disciplinary proceedings against the Supreme State Attorney.
The chairman of the opposition Communist Party, Miroslav Grebenicek, has decided to step down from his post. In a statement for the CTK news agency, Mr Grebenicek said his staying at the head of the party would be pointless, stating the party's programme orientation as the main reason of his move. A spokesperson for the Communist Party said that until October 1 when his case will be discussed by the Central Committee, Mr Grebenicek will not talk to the media. The 58-year old Miroslav Grebenicek has been chairman of the Communist Party since 1993.
The leader of the Social Democrats, former prime minister Stanislav Gross has rejected the statements of some Polish MPs who link the Unipetrol corruption scandal with the controversy surrounding the purchase of Mr Gross's Prague apartment. Stanislav Gross denied the allegations saying the sale of Unipetrol to the Polish company PKN Orlen was approved by the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla last year whereas Mr Gross bought his flat in 1999. Some Czech media suggest that the privatisation of the oil and chemicals group Unipetrol might have been manipulated and bribes amounting to hundreds of millions of crowns were involved.
Czech ice hockey star has departed for the US to return to the NHL, where he will honour his commitment to the New York Rangers. The forward, who led the Czechs to gold at this year's World Ice Hockey Championships in Vienna, played in Europe throughout the NHL lockout, first for his hometown of Kladno, and then Russia's Omsk. Departing on Sunday from Ruzyne airport Jagr was in good humour, reportedly telling journalists he hoped to shed a few extra pounds during training camp.
On Sunday the Czech Republic sent its first delivery of humanitarian
aid for victims of hurricane Katrina in the United States. Comprising
some 24,000 blankets, 600 camp beds, as well as a number of hall-sized
tents, the aid is the first of its kind from the Czech Republic to the
US. Its sending was coordinated within NATO, also the first time the
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has taken part in organised aid to
the United States.
The US Ambassador to Prague, William Cabaniss, was on hand at a ceremony on Sunday to accept the aid offer, noting the symbolism of the gesture on September 11th, four years after New York and Washington were struck by the terrorist attacks.
The Czech aid package is worth 25 million crowns, the equivalent of around one million US dollars. The Czech Republic is also ready to provide part of a field hospital, fire-fighters, and experts in removing environmental damage.