Writer Milan Kundera has demanded an apology from the Czech weekly Respekt for publishing an article he claims is defamatory. Last week Respekt published an article accusing the best-selling author of denouncing a suspected western agent to the communist police in the early 1950s. Kundera, who now lives in France, has categorically denied the allegations. He says he is ready to sue the weekly for libel in case its owners fail to apologize.
The Czech Constitutional Court is likely to decide on whether the Lisbon treaty is in line with Czech legislation on November 10. The Czech parliament has interrupted the process of ratification pending the court’s verdict. The court is set to deal with seven articles of the treaty that were challenged by the Senate. The prime minister recently said he hoped that the Czech Parliament would ratify the treaty by the end of the year, before the Czech Republic takes up the rotating EU presidency.
On the day of the vote, the governing coalition scored an important victory in the lower house, pushing through the basic parameters for the 2009 state budget into a second reading. A repeat vote took place on Wednesday after three rebels of the ruling Civic Democratic Party blocked the budget late Tuesday on the grounds that it was based on a projected 4.8 GDP growth when, in the light of the global crisis, the Central Bank had revised its forecast down to 3.6 percent. After some legal uncertainty regarding the fate of the budget, a second vote took place on Wednesday.
The global financial crisis is the result of excessive state interventions and irresponsible state spending, Czech President Václav Klaus says in Wednesday’s edition of the daily Mladá fronta Dnes. Mr Klaus says that the current situation is not surprising, considering the long years of extraordinarily successful economic growth. He added that it is misleading to believe that the situation could be prevented by some kind of global management of the world economy.
The Vienna Stock Exchange is set to gain a majority stake in the Prague Stock Exchange. Prague bourse shareholders and representatives of the Vienna Stock Exchange agreed on the conditions of the purchase on Wednesday. The transaction still needs to be approved by the respective regulatory bodies. The price and the size of the transaction has not been disclosed. The Vienna Stock Exchange is already a majority shareholder of two stock exchanges in Central and Eastern Europe, in Budapest and Ljubljana.
Around 1,500 people, including famous names, have attended the service in memory of Václav Kočka jr, the businessman who was shot dead last week shortly after a book signing by Social Democrat chairman Jiří Paroubek. The father of Mr Kočka, Václav Kočka sr., is a rich entrepreneur and a former advisor to opposition leader Jiří Paroubek. The family has in the past been accused of having links to organised crime.
The centre right government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek on Wednesday survived a no-confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament. The vote came in the wake of the ruling parties’ crushing defeat in regional elections last weekend. Prime Minister Topolánek’s government remains in office thanks to the coalition rebels who were reluctant to give an opening to the leftist opposition. Two rebels from the Green Party absented themselves from the vote and three Civic Democrat rebel MPs abstained from the vote. The no-confidence motion got 96 votes, 5 votes short of the 101 the opposition needed to bring down the government.
US President George W. Bush and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek are scheduled to meet in Washington on October 29 to discuss the world financial crisis, anti-missile defence system and Europe’s energy security, the White House announced on Tuesday. The spokeswoman for the White House Dana Perino said both nations were interested in “promoting freedom in repressive societies, supporting security and development in Iraq and Afghanistan, advancing European energy security and countering new ballistic missile threats to Europe and the US from the Middle East.”
Private practitioners fear they could lose patients if the Social Democrats push through their plan to “abolish” health care fees for all patients in regional hospitals. The introduction of direct payments at medical facilities earlier this year has come under severe criticism from the left-wing parties and the Social Democrats’ promise to “abolish” them at regional hospitals and cover the expenditures from regional coffers is believed to be one of the reasons behind their resounding success in the elections. Health Minister Tomáš Julínek said that even if the fees were unpopular he believed he had been right to introduce them. Private practitioners have threatened to take the matter to the anti-trust office.
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