President Vaclav Klaus congratulated Polish president-elect Lech Kaczynski on Monday following his weekend victory, inviting him to visit Prague at the first opportunity following his inauguration. Mr Kaczynski the 56-year-old conservative co-founder of the Law and Justice party, gained just over 54 percent of the vote in Sunday's poll, beating his liberal rival, Donald Tusk of the Civic Platform party. In a statement on Monday the Czech president, Mr Klaus, said the Czech Republic and Poland shared "many political and economic priorities".
A 31-year-old driver who killed three police officers in a hit-and-run two years ago, has been released on parole, shortening by half his four year sentence. The driver was released on grounds of good behaviour and the fact he had no previous criminal sentence. He will be on probation for the next seven years.
Deputy health minister David Rath has said that the largest state-owned
health insurance company, VZP, will not face forced administration for
now. The deputy health minister, as well as health minister candidate, met
with VZP head Jirina Musilkova on Monday to discuss money-saving steps. The
VZP's debt is more than 10 billion crowns (approx. 403,000,000 US dollars)
and may grow by 2 more billion crowns by the end of the year unless saving
measures are adopted immediately. Mr Rath said that the funds should be
saved by a slower increase in payments to hospitals. Saved funds will be
sent to smaller private facilities sooner. Mr Rath expects savings in
expenses for medicine as well.
Mr Rath and the VZP's Musilkova have planned to meet again next week. Later this week Mr Rath will meet with hospital heads and representatives from both health insurance companies and health care providers.
The prestigious soccer magazine France Football has listed two Czech players among the fifty in the running for the annual Golden Ball award for European Footballer of the Year. Petr Cech, netminder for FC Chelsea and Pavel Nedved, midfielder for Juventus Turin are both included on the list. Petr Cech has now been nominated twice by the magazine; Pavel Nedved, who has been nominated eight times, won the award in 2003.
President Vaclav Klaus has said he was misled by Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek when Mr Paroubek was first named to the government last year as Minister for Local Development. At the weekend the Prime Minister admitted in the media he had been in conflict of interest on at least three counts at the time of his naming. He made the statement apparently to show it hadn't bothered the president at the time. But, Vaclav Klaus responded through a spokesman on Monday by saying he had been misled. According to the spokesman Mr Paroubek - in an official statement - made no mention of any additional activities breaching conflict of interest.
Former president of the Sparta Prague football club, Petr Mach, has been cleared of criminal charges by a Prague court. The prosecution had been trying to find Mr Mach guilty of fraud for failing to pay back a 160 million crown bank loan, but could not pin the charge on the defendant, found guilty in an earlier ruling later that was later struck down by the high court. The prosecution has appealed the ruling.
The Czech aircraft company Aero Vodochody announced Monday its first order to supply parts for the Ariane 5 space rocket. The company will provide a German subcontractor for the rocket programme, MT Aerospace, based in Augsburg, with aluminium sheet metal components for the rocket, the company said in a statement, adding the contract was worth hundreds of thousands of crowns. Aero Vodochody is state owned but slated for privatisation by the current Social Democrat-led government.
In related news, David Rath has promised to take steps to rule out any
chance of conflict of interest should he give up his deputy position
and take up the health minister post. At the weekend Mr Rath said he
would suspend all private business activities during his time in public
service, and he has now said he will make a public affirmation to
settle the point. Last week Mr Rath was appointed deputy health
minister after President Vaclav Klaus refused to approve his nomination
for the top job because of conflict of interest.
The Prime Minister then re-nominated him for the post on Friday, threatening legal action to push the appointment through. Unless the Constitutional Court decides otherwise, the president is under no pressure to name the prime minister's candidate to the post.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said his Cabinet will cooperate with the international watchdog Transparency International in curbing corruption in the Czech Republic. Mr. Paroubek said in a TV debate on Sunday that he would welcome input from Transparency International on laws which are considered essential tools in fighting corruption, such as an effective conflict of interest law, a law on public tenders and an insolvency law relating to bankruptcy procedures. A recent report by Transparency International suggests that the Czech Republic has a serious problem fighting corruption.
The British singer and songwriter Phil Collins has had to cancel next week's concerts in Prague due to ill health. The concerts have been re-scheduled for November 23 and 24th. The agency Interconcerts said Mr. Collins had fallen ill on his world tour and would be unable to meet his obligations in Prague next week. All tickets remain valid.