Health Minister Tomas Julínek has criticized Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek’s decision to replace him, calling it shortsighted. Mr. Julínek is leaving the post after two years in office, with Mr Topolánek saying he had failed to explain his health care reform to the public and gain the coalition parties' support for it. The health fees which he introduced at the beginning of last year were believed to be one of the main reasons for the coalition’s poor showing in October’s regional and Senate elections. Mr. Julínek said on Tuesday that the decision to replace him had come at the worst possible moment, in view of the global economic crisis. He said that the Czech health sector would most likely be in the red this year and predicted that next year could be even worse, arguing that he was the most competent person to deal with such an emergency.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has blamed the poor gas flow to
Europe on weak pressure, the Czech EU presidency said on Tuesday. In a
phone conversation with Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, who brokered the
agreement on the resumption of gas supplies to Europe, Prime Minister
Tymoshenko blamed technical difficulties, specifically the pressure of gas
arriving from the Russian Federation being too low. According to the Czech
presidency she "promised to act" on a recommendation from Mr.
Topolánek that Ukrainian authorities seek assistance from European gas
Earlier a spokesman for Ukraine's state gas company Naftogaz said that
Kiev had blocked the transit of gas to Europe because of "unacceptable
transit conditions" imposed by Russian energy giant Gazprom.
The six day halt in deliveries has hit Europe hard, with some states, such as Slovakia and Bulgaria, declaring an energy emergency. The Czech EU presidency on Monday stressed the need for the EU to speed up work on a common energy policy.
The Czech Republic wants to use its EU presidency to work for better international protection of children, Czech Police President Oldrich Martinu told journalists after a meeting of police chiefs from several EU states and Europol representatives in Prague on Tuesday. Among its priorities are establishing a more effective system to trace missing children across the EU and taking effective measures to curb child porn on the Internet.
Senator Daniela Filipiová is to become the country’s new health minister. A senator for the Civic Democratic Party, Ms Filipiová said she intended to continue with the health reform set in motion by her predecessor, the outgoing health minister Tomas Julínek. A long-serving member on the Senate’s health care committee, Ms Filipiová is said to have a good understanding of the problems involved. She said she would search for compromises that would make the health reform more-widely acceptable.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has not ruled out a bailout for the group Bohemia Crystalex Trading, which is in bankruptcy proceedings. The minister made the statement in response to an appeal for help from the glass manufacturer’s managers and trade unions who have sought to find a means of keeping the group afloat. Mr. Kalousek said that a financial injection from the state would have to be based on guarantees that the companies’ losses would not deepen and that renewed production would gradually start making a profit. Analysts have put the down-turn in the Czech glass-making business to a lack of inventiveness and new design, saying that thanks to its skilled glass masters the business still has a chance to recover.
The former Czech president Václav Havel is reported to have undergone minor surgery at Prague’s Motol hospital and is said to be in a stable condition. Hospital spokeswoman Eva Jurinová declined to give any details regarding the operation. Mr. Havel’s website said he had been hospitalized in connection with an "inflammatory disease" and would remain in medical care for a few more days.
Bulgaria has said it is deeply offended by its representation in the EU mosaic in Brussels made by the controversial Czech artist David Černý. The massive temporary art installation uses stereotypes to depict EU member states in a highly provocative way, with Bulgaria depicted as a Turkish toilet. Bulgaria’s spokesperson at the European Council Bettina Yotevova said the work was extremely insulting. The artwork, which was put up on Monday and is expected to be unveiled on Thursday, has sparked enormous controversy. Moreover it has come to light that the group of 26 international artists who were said to have cooperated on the project with the controversial young artist David Černý do not exist and the work is Černý’s alone. After issuing a denial, the artist allegedly admitted the fact to the Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Alexander Vondra. Mr. Vondra said he was deeply shocked by the revelation. The artist has apologized for misleading government officials. He tried to defend his action by explaining that mystification was part of modern art.
Lenka Pavlová, head of the Czech Office for International Legal Protection of Children, has announced that she is leaving her post for personal reasons. Deputy Labour and Social Affairs Minister Marian Hošek is to take over her agenda on a temporary basis. Ms. Pavlová has been in the post for just over a year.
The head of the opposition Social Democrats Jiří Paroubek said on Monday that his party would only support a bill on the Czech army’s foreign missions in 2009 in exchange for the abolition of health care fees. The ruling coalition, which no longer has a majority in the lower house of the Czech Parliament, failed to push through the bill in December, thereby leaving the future mandate of Czech forces in Afghanistan and Kosovo uncertain. The government used its constitutional right to prolong the troops’ mandate by two months, but they will have to be brought back if no agreement is reached by the end of February. The removal of health care fees has been a major issue of controversy between the coalition and opposition ever since they were introduced last year as part of the government’s health care reform.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek will replace four ministers in a planned cabinet reshuffle. The replacement will involve Health Care Minister Tomáš Julínek and Transport Minister Aleš Řebíček, both from the senior coalition Civic Democrats; Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Džamila Stehlíková, nominated by the Green Party, and Christian Democrat leader Jiří Čunek, who announced his resignation as deputy PM earlier on Monday. While the Prime Minister has not yet revealed who will replace the two Civic Democratic ministers, the Christian Democrat leadership has proposed that the deputy premiership should be assumed by the current Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanová and Cyril Svoboda should become the new regional development minister. Rock musician Michael Kocáb is expected to replace Ms Stehlíková as the minister for human rights and minorities.
Czech President Zeman addresses Council of Europe
Political scientist: It is difficult to imagine a prime minister who faces criminal charges
How should socialist architecture be treated now?
Czech pre-election battle plugs into war of words over lithium mining deal
Czech ministry mulls massive recruitment of foreign workers to fill jobs