Some of the world's most renowned former presidents and government
leaders are in Prague to attend the Club de Madrid's general assembly.
The gathering will also include a discussion forum "Democracy in the
Post Communist World: What has been learned and how can it be applied?"
Among the several dozen participants will be former US president Bill
Clinton, former French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, and former
Brasilian President and current Club chairman Fernando Henrique
Czech President Vaclav Klaus, his predecessor Vaclav Havel and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda attended the opening ceremony. The event comes to a close this Saturday.
The two convicted murderers, who escaped from Pilsen's Bory prison on Tuesday, were not assisted by the facility's guards, prison management said on Thursday. One guard, however, has been suspended for neglecting his duties. Police are still determining how the men managed to escape undetected and believe they had at least two accomplices.
Health Minister David Rath has imposed forced administration on VZP,
the largest state-owned Czech health insurance company. The minister
said the company was not fulfilling its legal obligations and had been
given enough time to try to resolve its problems. This chiefly relates
to its steep debt which now stands at close to 14 billion crowns (just
over 570 million US dollars).
The step has been criticised by the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats. Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is on a state visit to India, issued a statement on Thursday calling the move unjustified and destabilising, expressing fears that the forced administration could worsen the VZP's financial situation.
While in Prague for the Czech premiere of his film "The Brothers Grimm" this week, American film director Terry Gilliam said he expects to resume work on Don Quixote which was set to be the biggest European film ever made but was shelved five days into filming. Although rights to the script have been frozen for several years because of a conflict between the French producer and a German insurance company, a decision could come "before the end of the year", the AFP news agency quoted Mr Gilliam as saying.
The government has decided to award the Czech Brain prize to Armin Delong, the founder of electron microscopy and initiator of the production of world-competitive electron microscopes. Together with the award Professor Delong will receive one million crowns (over 40,000 dollars). Armin Delong, 80, is best-known for his pioneering work in holography, emission electron microscopy and slow electron microscopy. Most recently he has focused on low-voltage scanning microscopy which is used in biology.
Czech Agriculture Minister Petr Zgarba will resign from office next week, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek announced on Thursday. Mr Zgarba is the chairman of the Czech Land Fund which is responsible for the sale and management of state-owned land. The Fund's Board has been accused of corruption after it was discovered that it sold property to speculators that is now worth hundreds of times the asking price. Mr Zgarba plans to step down from his post as agriculture minister on Wednesday, November 16. Mr Zgarba will be succeeded by Social Democrat Member of Parliament Jan Mladek.
The Sudeten German Landsmannschaft protested against a request made to the European Commission to limit the use of the famed "Karlovarske Oplatky" or Carlsbad Wafers name. The Czech Government would like the name to be recognised and protected as a geographic indication of the place of origin that cannot be used by manufacturers of wafers outside the west Bohemian region. According to the Landsmannschaft - an organisation representing ethnic Germans who were expelled from the Czechoslovak border area after WWII, the original recipe of the wafers came from baker families of Sudeten German origin.
Renata Vesecka has been appointed Supreme State Attorney. She replaces Marie Benesova, who was dismissed in late September following numerous disputes with Justice Minister Pavel Nemec. Mrs. Vesecka was asked to run the Supreme State Attorney's Office on a temporary basis and the government said it was convinced she was the right candidate for a permanent position. The Justice Minister proposed her appointment saying she had handled the job with skill and responsibility.
The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda is said to have received anonymous death threats because of his hard-line policy on Cuba. A police spokesman confirmed the news on Wednesday saying that the threats had been directed against the foreign minister and his immediate family. One of the anonymous phone calls in which the caller threatened to shoot Mr. Svoboda was recorded by the police. Mr. Svoboda and his family are getting round the clock protection. The Czech Republic has led a drive for the EU to re-impose sanctions against Cuba and the Czech Foreign Ministry is vocal in its criticism of human rights violations on the island.
Police are still hunting for two convicted murderers who escaped from a high security prison house in Plzen on Tuesday. The convicts escaped with the aid of a guard by hiding in a service truck. The head of the Plzen-Bory prison in western Bohemia has been sacked and Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has ordered a full investigation. Escaped convict Roman Cabrada is a drug dealer who was serving time for the murder of a German mayor two years ago. The other inmate, Rostislav Roztocil, had killed an Egyptian student. An e-mail from his sister in Germany suggests he may already have escaped from the Czech Republic.