The TOP 09 leadership which met to debate the crisis on Tuesday
has denied allegations that it has a hidden agenda in the matter. However
it insists on Batora’s dismissal before the government can become fully
functional again. At present TOP 09 ministers are boycotting government
sessions and sending their deputies in their place.
Meanwhile, Public Affairs maintains that in the light of Minister Dobeš’ apology to Minister Schwarzenberg it considers the matter closed.
The opposition Social Democratic Party has said it is ready to discuss early elections if the government is incapable of functioning properly. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said at a press conference on Tuesday that if TOP 09 ministers were not willing to do their duties then it would be better not to prolong the crisis and seek an effective solution. The party’s deputy Lubomir Zaoralek noted that the prime minister was clearly unwilling or unable to resolve the crisis and the situation in Czech politics was increasingly chaotic. The leading opposition party also attacked Education Minister Josef Dobes, saying both he and Batora should be dismissed.
A flash poll on the Batora scandal indicates that 57 percent of Czechs would support his dismissal from office. Forty-four percent of respondents moreover view him as a racist who should never have been appointed to the post. On the other hand, 30 percent of respondents are inclined to agree that the scandal surrounding him does not merit a government crisis of the present proportions and that the TOP 09 party is using it as a pretext to destabilize the government.
President Klaus’ close aide Petr Hájek on Tuesday threatened to take legal action against Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg for allegedly having insulted the Office of the President. Mr. Hájek was referring to an interview for Týden magazine in which the foreign minister said Mr. Klaus used his “minions” at Prague Castle to voice some of his more controversial stands. The remark was made in connection with Mr. Hajek’s criticism of the recent gay rights parade in the Czech capital. Mr. Hájek said he could not let the matter rest since it was an insult to the Office of the President and that unless he got a “loud and public” apology from the foreign minister he would sue him. Mr. Hájek recently also took Mr. Bátora’s side in his controversy with the foreign minister, suggesting that Mr. Bátora had only defended himself against insults from Mr. Schwarzenberg.
Public Affairs parliamentary group leader Vít Bárta has asked to be stripped of his immunity to open the way for a criminal investigation. Mr. Bárta who resigned as transport minister after being accused of bribing party members says he has nothing to hide and wants to clear his name in court. Parliament’s immunity committee is to make a recommendation on the case in late August. A vote will then take place in the lower house.
An agreement has been reached on providing information about the salaries of employees in the public sector. Following numerous requests from the media for institutions to make public the salaries and bonuses of high placed officials, representatives of the Office for the Protection of Private Data, the Interior Ministry and the Ombudsman’s Office on Tuesday agreed that in future the information should be made available unless there was a very good reason to deny it. The Interior Ministry has been commissioned to provide guidelines for various institutions.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has strongly criticized the Labour Ministry’s plan to pay out old age pensions exclusively via bank accounts. The prime minister said such an arrangement would inconvenience hundreds of thousands of senior citizens who would have to go to the bank or the nearest money machine for cash. The Labour Ministry said that it considered such a development inevitable in the long run, but added that when such a system was introduced exceptions would be made for elderly people with mobility problems and chronically ill people. Currently many pensioners get their monthly pensions delivered to their homes by the Czech Postal Service.
The organized crime squad of the Czech police has cracked down on a ring of Nigerian people smugglers. The group of six is charged with illegally smuggling at least 25 Nigerian women to the Czech Republic and forcing them into prostitution. The head of the gang was a 37-year-old Nigerian woman living in the Czech Republic. The accused face up to 15 years in prison.
Officials have raised the flag of Libya’s Transitional National Council
(TNC) at the Libyan diplomatic mission in Prague, after rebel forces took
over much of the North African country’s capital Tripoli – six months
after fighting began against Colonel Muammar Gadhafi’s regime.
International news organisations have reported that while rebels secured
most parts of the Libyan capital, fighting continued on Monday at Colonel
Gadhafi’s heavily-defended compound. The whereabouts of the Libyan
The Czech news agency reported that as of Monday, Libyan diplomats in the Czech Republic will officially represent the TNC, adding that the mission had released a statement thanking Czechs for their stance on developments in Libya. At the same time, chargé d’affaires Nuri Ghavi expressed regret that Prague has not yet officially recognised the rebel government.
TOP 09 deputy leader and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has confirmed that only ministerial deputies on behalf of the party will take part in upcoming cabinet meetings. The move is the result of a protest by the right-wing party over controversial state official Ladislav Bátora, who is the head of Human Resources at the Education Ministry and the head of an ultra-right civic association. He has been the centre of controversy since insulting TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg online, as well as for earlier public statements and opposition to a recent gay pride festival. Minister Kalousek expressed the hope that Mr Bátora would be recalled from his post within a matter of days; fellow coalition member Karolína Peake said the Bátora case would be discussed by party leaders on Tuesday.