Culture Minister Helena Trestikova says she is ready to resign from her post if she is forced to appoint Frantisek Formanek as her deputy. Mrs Trestikova said she had refused to appoint him earlier as she had chosen another candidate for the post. Mrs Trestikova said on Thursday she understood that the current political negotiations were complex but she was not willing to sacrifice her honour and dignity in order to keep her post.
The Social Democrats say they are ready to monitor the property situation of MPs Milos Melcak and Michal Pohanka not only in the near future but even after five or ten years. Party leader Jiri Paroubek made the statement on Thursday, one day ahead of a crucial confidence vote in the lower house. Social Democrat MPs Melcak and Pohanka said earlier they were prepared to enable the centre-right coalition government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to win confidence in Friday's vote. The Social Democrats have made allegations of corruption.
The coalition government led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek approved
on Wednesday its policy statement with which it will ask the Chamber of
Deputies for a vote of confidence. Deputy prime minister Petr Necas
made the announcement during the government session on Wednesday
without giving further details. The centre-right coalition made-up of
the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and Greens has included in
the document concessions agreed with Social Democrat deputies Milos
Melcak and Michal Pohanka in return for tolerance for the government.
In agreement with the MPs, the government has pledged, for example, not to raise taxes but to introduce tax reform that will be advantageous for all income groups. The government is also to draw up a new bill on non-profit hospitals that will guarantee the existence of teaching hospitals based on the non-profit principle.
The CTK news agency reports that the Social Democratic Party might be facing bankruptcy. Prague lawyer Zdenek Altner says he has filed a bankruptcy petition saying the party owes him 18 billion crowns (or 850 million US dollars) for his services in a legal dispute over the ownership of the party's Prague headquarters. The amount demanded includes interest and sanctions. The party has not commented on the report.
The centre-right coalition cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek faces
a crucial vote of confidence on Friday which it hopes will end a
seven-month period without a stable government resulting from inconclusive
elections. The governing coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian
Democrats and the Green Party has exactly 100 votes in the 200-seat lower
house but two MPs from the Social Democratic Party had agreed to enable
the government to win Friday's vote by not taking part in it.
This is the second chance for Mr Topolanek to form a cabinet after his first minority Civic Democrat government failed a confidence vote in October. The coalition government has set itself an ambitious series of targets, such as to reform public spending and the pension and healthcare systems, but it is unlikely to find majority support for its goals in the chamber.
Czech Television and the internet news server Aktualne.cz have reported that Czech fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir was detained in the Seychelles for illegal arms possession but was later released. Radovan Krejcir fled the Czech Republic in 2005 to avoid prosecution in a number of criminal cases, including conspiracy for murder. He has lived with his family in the Seychelles ever since.
The European Court of Justice has ruled the Czech Republic is breaching EU law regarding recognition of qualification of medical doctors and dentists. The court upheld an earlier decision by the European Commission which will now decide on further steps against the Czech Republic. The EU criticises the fact that doctors and dentists from other EU countries working in the Czech Republic for a short period of time need to register with the Czech medical chamber while under EU legislation they only need certificates from their home countries.
Police have called off extra security teams at church schools in Prague: those had been under tight scrutiny since last week, after police received an anonymous bomb threat. A spokesman made the announcement on Wednesday, saying that the schools would still be checked by regular patrols. Last Thursday experts labelled as "very serious" a bomb threat targeting the capital's forty or so church schools leading to heightened security measures and extensive searches at school premises. Many parents were warned ahead of time to keep their children at home. No evidence of a bomb was uncovered.
In related news, Mr Paroubek admitted in an on-line interview on Wednesday that following Friday's vote the Social Democrats will be tough in the opposition in the lower house. In the interview Mr Paroubek repeated earlier criticisms but also extended blame to the country's president, Vaclav Klaus. Mr Paroubek criticised the president for twice naming Mirek Topolanek prime minister in the efforts to form a government, one that Mr Paroubek has said, following Tuesday's events, would now be founded on blackmail and betrayal. He said that he would recommend Social Democrat deputies not to back Mr Klaus in his expected bid for re-election next year.
The Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova has stated that the government has now approved the deployment of the 6th field hospital to Afghanistan. The unit will operate at Kabul airport. If both houses of parliament approve the mission, hospital personnel will leave for Afghanistan in March. The sending of the hospital unit with around 70 personnel for one year will cost 150 million crowns (the equivalent of around 7 million US dollars) to be covered by the Defence Ministry budget. The ministry says that NATO could defray a part of the costs. The mission to Afghanistan was requested by NATO last year. The unit has been deployed in that country before and has also operated in Iraq.