President Vaclav Klaus said on Friday he would accept the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Radek John of Public Affairs. Following a meeting with Prime Minister Petr Nečas, Mr. Klaus said he had been briefed about the reasons behind the resignation by both Mr. John and the prime minister and saw no reason to hold up the proceedings. Deputy Prime Minister Radek John told the press last week he was leaving the cabinet over a long-term lack of support from the prime minister. The junior coalition party Public Affairs, which has been dogged by scandal, once again rocked the coalition boat this week, threatening to leave the government because it was not getting a chance to implement its policy programme. However Wednesday’s meeting of coalition leaders ended in compromise with the centre-right parties agreeing to put aside their mistrust and shelve personnel decisions until June, focusing strictly on policy issues and reform bills in the meantime.
The opposition Social Democrats have threatened to challenge the government’s health reform at the Constitutional Court. Party chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday it was unacceptable to implement changes which would establish a dual standard of health care – one for the rich and another for the poor. The opposition leader argued that the division of health care into basic and above standard would violate people’s right to health care on the grounds of insurance and result in the socially weaker groups of the population getting cheaper, less suitable and less effective treatment. It has not yet been decided who would be the arbiter of what constitutes basic and above standard care.
Former finance minister and leading Czech economist Eduard Janota has died at the age of 59. Mr. Janota allegedly died of heart failure while playing tennis. As a highly respected, non-partisan civil servant he was in charge of drafting several state budgets for both centre-right and centre-left governments. After the fall of the Topolánek government in 2009 he served as finance minister in the caretaker cabinet of prime minister Jan Fischer.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on Friday honoured the work and legacy of Russian scientist and human rights advocate Andrej Sakharov. Attending a conference in Moscow marking the 90th anniversary of Sakharov’s birth, the Czech foreign minister said the struggle for human rights, human dignity and freedom was an endless endeavor in which progress was always only partial and was inevitably followed by a regression. He said the pace of change in Russia was painfully slow, but that given the country’s history of authoritarian rule a faster pace could not be expected. Mr. Schwarzenberg was one of the key speakers at the conference which was shunned by Russian officials. More than 20 years after his death there is still no monument to the Nobel prize winning dissident in Moscow.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas told a two-day Nuclear Energy Forum in Prague that stress tests at European nuclear plants should be a purely technical and free of politics. He said the accident at the Fukushima plant in Japan should be rationally assessed and measures raising safety standards at nuclear plants in the EU should be adopted on the basis of that assessment. Talks about stress tests at European nuclear plants became deadlocked after Germany, Austria and the European Commission asked for parallel tests on resistance towards natural disasters and terror attacks. The other 25 EU member countries want to separate the two types of tests as regulators insist there is no way for them to assess terrorism threats. Prime Minister Nečas said protecting people against terrorism was "the utmost interest of every national government" adding that such tests were part of security analyses at any industrial plant.
President Klaus has signed into law a bill which will formally end compulsory vaccination of children against tuberculosis, something that doctors have already started doing in practice. Child specialists have long advocated a change of law saying that the possible complications linked to the given vaccination far outweigh the risks of contracting the disease in present-day Europe. Vaccination will be recommended to parents of children in high-risk groups who travel to countries where tuberculosis is still a problem or those who have a family history of TB.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas is to head a Czech government delegation to Iraq next week. The precise date of the visit is being kept secret for security reasons. It will be the first visit by a Czech top official to Bagdad since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Defense Minister Alexander Vondra and Trade Minister Martin Kocourek will be accompanying the prime minister for talks that are expected to focus on business and the Czech Republic’s know-how in the process of transition from totalitarian rule to democracy.
Police investigating the case of a 14-year-old schoolgirl who starred in a number of porn movies under a false name say there is no indication that other minors were involved. The incident has shocked parents and teacher of the local primary school who fear that a child porn ring may be actively seeking other children in the area for cooperation. Punishment for such a crime would be up to three years in prison. The case of the young porn actress came light when a schoolmate recognized her and put pictures of her on Facebook.
Czech pianist, composer and conductor Ladislav Simon has died at the age of 82. The musician who worked for Prague’s National Theatre and was the founder of the first Czech studio for electronic music in Prague, has left a rich legacy of chamber, symphonic and jazz compositions. However he is best known as the author of a much loved signature tune accompanying Czech TVs daily bedtime story for children which has now played for over 40 years and is familiar to several generations of Czechs.
A poll conducted by the STEM agency indicates a great measure of disillusionment with the present state of Czech politics. According to the results a mere 10 percent of Czechs are happy with the state of Czech politics, 55 percent of respondents said they were extremely dissatisfied. A mere 20 percent of the population is satisfied with the prime minister’s handling of the government crisis and the prime minister's own credit rating has slid from 42 to 28 percent as a result.