The Czech Republic is to appeal once again to the European Union for permission to support an indebted steel products exporter, the Industry Ministry said on Tuesday. The ministry said it would advise the cabinet to continue in its efforts to inject two billion crowns into Trinecke Zelezarny, which is privately owned. The EU has expressed opposition to the plan, which was not mentioned in the Czech Republic's accession talks with the union.
President Vaclav Klaus has accepted the resignation of the justice minister, Pavel Rychetsky. Mr Rychetsky is stepping down in order to take up a position on the Constitutional Court. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, who has been having trouble finding a replacement for the outgoing minister, is currently fulfilling the role himself in a caretaker capacity.
The NATO command team, which is expected to take over control of ISAF forces in Afghanistan from Germany and the Netherlands on August 11, will have four Czech members. According to Czech deputy chief of staff Jaroslav Kolkus, the Czech Army is also preparing several more commanders, should they be asked to join the team. During a trip to Prague on Monday, the deputy chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, General Peter Pace, said that the role of Czech troops in international operations such as in Bosnia, Kosovo, as well as Afghanistan, was indispensable. General Pace also discussed cooperation with NATO, the planned reform of the Czech Army and the involvement of Czech soldiers in peace-keeping operations.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Pavel Rychetsky gave up his cabinet post on Monday to become a judge at the Constitutional Court. Mr Rychetsky's resignation had been widely expected after he won the president's nomination and Senate approval to fill one of the vacant seats at the country's top court. Under Czech law, no cabinet member can assume the job. The president is expected to formally name three new judges, including Mr Rychetsky at Lany Chateau on Wednesday. Mr Rychetsy's position could remain vacant for weeks while Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, who temporarily takes over the justice portfolio, looks for a successor. Mr Rychetsky, a fifty-nine year old former lawyer and dissident, has been in top Czech politics since the fall of Communism in 1989.
The Czech Republic may run for elected membership of the UN Security Council in 2008-2009. The foreign ministry is working on a proposal, which is to be submitted to the government and discussed by the cabinet after its summer break. According to Jan Michal from the foreign ministry's UN department, two other unnamed Eastern European countries are planning to apply for UN Security Council membership. The Council has fifteen members - five permanent members and ten elected by the General Assembly for two-year terms. The Czech Republic has only been an elected member once - in 1994 and 1995.
Meanwhile doctors serving at the Czech Army field hospital in the Iraqi city of Basra say they are seeking donors to pay for medicines for sick children there. One doctor serving with the unit said a lack of medicines at Basra Children's Hospital meant only a limited number of operations - including blood transfusions - could be performed.
The Health Ministry has said around a dozen seriously ill Iraqi children will receive medical treatment in the Czech Republic. The first three patients will arrive on August 7th and will be admitted to Prague's Motol Hospital. A spokeswoman said the hospital was ready to admit as many children as necessary. The treatment will be paid for by the Czech government. The children are suffering from a number of illnesses including heart conditions.
Vaclav Fischer, owner of one of the country's most successful travel agencies, says he has found an investor to help save his failing travel empire from collapse. Mr Fischer said on Sunday he had signed a contract with the firm Atlantik Financial Markets to keep the company from bankruptcy, on condition that bailiffs halt the seizure of company assets. Mr Fischer, until recently a senator, founded the Fischer travel agency in the early 1990s. It's now one of the biggest in the country, with its own charter airline. However the company recently encountered financial difficulties, and last week went into administration with debts of more than 15 million dollars. So far neither the company's flights nor package holidays have been affected by the financial problems.
Bailiffs have seized assets belonging to the Fischer travel agency, which went into forced administration last week. Bailiffs seized the company's Prague headquarters, a branch office in Ostrava and also Vaclav Fischer's private villa. Mr Fischer, until recently a senator, built up the company into the country's most successful travel agencies, with its own charter airline. However the company has been in difficulty for some time, and according to media reports owes Czech Airlines, the Czech Airport Authority and Komercni Banka more than 15 million dollars.
Police have arrested a 55-year-old man accused of threatening to poison drinking water in Prague. The arrest comes after heightened security measures were put in place at reservoirs and water treatment plants after the mayor of Prague received the anonymous threat on Tuesday. The blackmailer threatened to poison the capital's water with cyanide and mercury. The letter contained a demand for an unspecified amount of money.