The ruling Civic Democratic Party's deputies met to thrash out their differences on the government proposed reform of public finances on Tuesday. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose cabinet needs the vote of every coalition deputy, said later that some of his party colleagues still had objections to the draft reforms but that progress had been made. Critics from party ranks argue that the Civic Democrats had made too many concessions to their coalition partners and were betraying their own policy programme. The Prime Minister has linked the future of his cabinet to this crucial reform package. Parliament is to vote on it at the beginning of June.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Vondra said on Tuesday that Russia had so far rejected all US offers to participate in the missile shield project. Moscow has denounced the US defence plans as a threat to Russia's national security, saying that it could upset a strategic balance of forces in Europe. Recently US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Moscow with proposals that would enable the Russian's to cooperate on developing the system. Minister Vondra said Prague wanted Russia to get involved, but that it would not allow Moscow to veto the project. The Czech Republic has also heard criticism for some EU states who do not like the idea of EU member states working bilaterally on a defence project with Washington.
Czech goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny signed for Hertha Berlin from Bundesliga rivals VfL Bochum on a three year contract on Tuesday. The 27-year-old, a member of the Czech Republic side that won the Under-21 European title in 2002, had been at Bochum for just one season. Hertha finished 10th in the recently concluded German championship while Bochum finished two places ahead of them.
The Office for Protection of Private Data is to look into a possible violation of the privacy law in a highly publicized child abuse case. The Czech government on Monday criticized the fact that in reporting on the so-called Mauerova case the media had published the names, photographs and even the address of the three child victims. Tapes of eight-year-old Ondra, naked, bound and force-fed by his mother were repeatedly shown on television as the case evolved. Although the law does not adequately protect child victims in this respect, the head of the Office for Protection of Private Data, Igor Nemec, said the media could be held responsible for violating the privacy law, for which there is a fine of up to ten million crowns. Dzamila Stehlikova, the minister responsible for human rights, said it was shocking that while underage culprits were protected from the press, victims of abuse were not afforded the same rights.
Police statistics indicate that the number of children reported missing has been steadily increasing in recent years. Over 8,000 children were reported missing in the course of 2006. Six thousand of them ran away from orphanages and children's homes, often repeatedly, two thousand ran away from their parents. Fortunately, the police have a high success rate in tracing the vast majority of them. Ninety-eight percent of them were found safe and sound.
The Czech government will present a counter-proposal to the US radar treaty, outlining the conditions under which the Czech Republic would be prepared to host a US radar base on its territory, deputy foreign minister Tomas Pojar said at the start of a second round of talks with US officials in Prague. The Czech Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministries should be ready to present their own draft proposal within two months, outlining what counter-services the United States should provide in exchange for being able to site the radar on Czech territory. "For tactical and diplomatic reasons it would not be good to communicate our ideas to the media," Mr. Pojar said. The talks on the radar base are expected to last until the end of the year. The United States wants to locate a radar base in the Czech Republic and interceptor missiles in neighbouring Poland to counter a possible missile attack threat by Iran. Neither country has as yet made a firm commitment.
A court in Johannesburg on Tuesday rejected a proposal for fugitive Czech businessman Radovan Krejcir to be released from custody. The judge rejected the arguments of Mr Krejcir's defence that he had been detained in South Africa unlawfully and that the court was not qualified to rule on the case. The possibility that Mr Krejcir could be released on bail still exists however. Radovan Krejcir is wanted in the Czech Republic for extensive fraud and conspiracy to murder. The authorities have requested his extradition. Mr Krejcir fled the Czech Republic in 2005 and, having acquired Seychelles citizenship, made a new home for himself and his family on the island. He was arrested on an international arrest warrant when he tried to enter South Africa on a false passport.
A new constitution for the European Union should favour unanimous rather than majority voting, Czech President Vaclav Klaus and his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski agreed on Monday. The two heads of state met at Lany Chateau near Prague ahead of a summit of Central European presidents which starts in Brno this Thursday. Following the meeting, Mr Kazcynski said that the EU continues to be composed of independent states and it must be said clearly that there are lines that must not be crossed. Both the Czech Republic and Poland have put on hold any plans to ratify the current European draft constitution and have resisted efforts by the German EU presidency to set out by the end of next month a "roadmap" towards ratifying essentially the same constitutional treaty before elections to the European Parliament in 2009.
The health of eight year old Ondra, who was severely abused by his own mother Klara Mauerova, is said to have improved. On Tuesday Ondra was released from hospital and returned to the children's home where he and his two siblings were placed after their mother was arrested. The fate of his alleged thirteen year old adopted sister Anna who mysteriously disappeared from the children's home 11 days ago remains uncertain. The latest information on the story indicates that the alleged 13-year old who had no identity papers was not the said Anna at all but a 34 year old woman who may have mental problems. The police are now investigating why the family passed her off as Anna and whether the alleged 13-year old sister ever existed.
Special commissions will be set up in every region of the country to oversee the care of state-owned national heritage, culture minister Vaclav Jehlicka said on Monday. Speaking at a conference on cultural heritage, he said the commissions' main tasks would be to use local budgets efficiently and make the best use of EU grants. Mr Jehlicka also proposes that every castle and chateau owned by the state should have a supervisory board where the local authority, regional authority, National Heritage Institute, and entrepreneurs involved in tourism would be represented.