The Czech Finance Ministry has ordered an audit into the system for approving European Union-related projects following the European Commission's suspension on Wednesday of some 2 billion crowns worth of payments earmarked for this country under the EU Phare programme. The European Commission suspended payments from the EU's pre-accession fund because the Czech system for approving projects did not adhere to EU rules. The international consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers will carry out the audit and is due to publish its findings in late September.
With the official inauguration of Karel Kuehnl as Defence Minister on Friday, the entire Cabinet of Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has now assumed office. The other new ministers in the Cabinet - Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, Health Minister Milada Emmerova, Local Development Minister Jiri Paroubek, and Justice Minister Pavel Nemec - all officially assumed their posts on Thursday. Defence Minister Kuehnl replaced Miroslav Kostelka, who will now serve as an advisor to Prime Minister Gross. The other ministers in the 18-member Cabinet had served under former Prime Minsiter Vladimir Spidla.
Just days before the beginning of the new football season, police have charged 17 people in connection with allegations of match-fixing. Sixteen referees are being questioned, along with Ivan Hornik, the director of Viktoria Zizkov football club. Czech football has been dogged by corruption allegations since May, when police arrested the director of the club Synot (now known as Slovacko) and several referees.
The upper house of the Czech Parliament, the Senate, on Thursday rejected a bill stipulating that all high school students would have to pass a compulsory maths test as part of their school-leaving exams, the Czech "maturita". The bill was proposed by the lower house in June. The senators agreed on Thursday that students should be able to choose between maths and other subjects. Maths tests were compulsory for all students graduating from high schools until 1990.
The new Czech Prime Minister, Stanislav Gross, inaugurated four new
government ministers to their posts on Thursday, a day after the new
cabinet was sworn in. Social Democrat Milada Emmerova has taken up the
post of Health Minister and her party colleague Jiri Paroubek has replaced
the chairman of the Freedom Union, Pavel Nemec, at the post of Local
Development Minister. Pavel Nemec has assumed the post of Justice
Minister. On Thursday, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross also inaugurated
Frantisek Bublan to the post of Interior Minister, which he himself had
held in the previous cabinet of the former Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla.
The remaining new minister, Karel Kuehnl of the Freedom Union, is expected
to assume his post of Defence Minister on Friday.
The other ministers in the 18-member cabinet had served under Mr Spidla in the last government. The new coalition cabinet, with a majority of just one in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies, faces a vote of confidence on August 24.
Sparta Prague football club are now one step away from the group stage in the Champions League, after beating APOEL of Cyprus 2:1 in the second leg of their second round qualifying tie in Prague on Wednesday night. That result gave Sparta a 4:3 win on aggregate, setting up a clash with Hungary's Ferencvaros for a place in the lucrative competition. The first leg takes place away next week.
Contrary to press reports, nobody has been either arrested or detained in connection with the organisation of the Czechtek techno music festival near a village in west Bohemia, a Pilsen police spokesperson said on Wednesday. On Monday night the police began breaking up the unauthorised festival, which began on Friday and attracted 15,000 people at its peak.
A 60-year-old man from Beroun in central Bohemia has become the first person to die after being bitten by an infected tick in the Czech Republic this year. Though the man died in the middle of May, the cause of death has just been confirmed. Almost 120 people were infected by ticks between the start of the year and August 1, the daily Pravo reported on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Spidla, who will become the Czech Republic's representative on the European Commission in November, had his first meeting with the next president of the commission, Jose Barroso, in Brussels on Wednesday. Mr Spidla discussed social issues with Mr Barroso, but said it would be up to the future chairman to decide on his role in the next commission.
The number of foreigners living legally in the Czech Republic has more than doubled in the last decade, according to figures just released by the Czech Statistics Office. While in 1994 there were around 100,000 officially registered foreigners, there are now almost 250,000, accounting for 2.3 percent of people living in the Czech Republic.
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