During a presentation of her ten-point health care plan on Monday, Health Minister Milada Emmerova said her top priority is to guarantee all citizens health care that is affordable, in their locality, and in time. The new concept was presented to doctors and journalists in the northern Moravian town of Decin. Mrs. Emmerova also rejected claims of some doctors that the health ministry plans to nationalise private surgeries. The health minister hopes to achieve these goals with the help of a nationwide network of hospitals and more effective financing. Doctors, however, are sceptical, saying the new concept is too general and will not help tackle the problem areas in the health sector.
A Czech organisation that has been fighting drug addiction for the past thirteen years has been promised eight million Czech crowns (some 100,000 Euros) from the EU budget to reduce drug addiction in Afghanistan. In the next two years and in cooperation with local partner organisations, the Podane Ruce (Helping Hand) organisation hopes to make a significant change with its "Breaking the Cycle" project. An estimated 30% of Afghanistan's population is addicted to opium. Experts believe that 80% of the world's heroin is produced in Afghanistan. There is currently only one hospital with 60 beds in the capital city of Kabul that is available to treat the country's drug addicts.
Swiss President Joseph Deiss is currently in the Czech Republic on a two-day official visit. Mr Deiss met with his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Klaus, as well as other senior politicians on Monday. Unlike the Czech Republic, famously neutral Switzerland is neither an EU member nor part of NATO. However, it plans to divide one million Swiss francs (over 650,000 euros) among the new EU member states to help balance out economic differences within the union. In the Czech Republic such financial support could be used to improve infrastructure, research, and the promotion of technology education.
This Monday, November 1, the European arrest warrant will be adopted in the Czech Republic. This will allow for Czech citizens, suspected of serious crimes, to be extradited to an EU state and tried abroad. The crimes involved include terrorism, people trafficking, murder, hijacking, rape, and the sexual abuse of children. The aim of the EU arrest warrant is to help tackle cross-border crime, prevent criminals from eluding prosecution, and help in the fight against terrorism and organized crime.
The leader of the Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek, criticised Czech
Police Chief Jiri Kolar in a TV discussion programme on Sunday and said the
police are politically controlled. Last week, the police chief admitted
that widespread bugging was normal police practice and added that it is
nothing to concern people with a clear conscience.
In reaction to his remarks, President Vaclav Klaus and opposition Civic Democratic Party deputies have called on Mr Kolar to resign. While Mr Kalousek agrees, he notes Mr Kolar's resignation will not make a difference as the whole police force is politically controlled and the country's interior ministers have done nothing about it.
A concert of three extreme-right groups held on Saturday night went by without incident. Around 200 skinheads, some of them from neighbouring Austria and Slovakia, attended the event in the Moravian capital Brno. Police, who monitored the concert, arrested one participant who was seen doing the Nazi salute by a photographer from a Czech daily. He was released after police questioning on Sunday morning.
Some forty maternity homes around the country may have to be closed down, the National Reference Centre for Health Insurance Companies announced on Saturday. The homes have registered less than 500 births a year, which gynaecologists say is a dangerously low number. Doctors in such maternity homes gain little experience and may not be able to handle complicated cases.
Hong Kong and the Czech Republic have agreed to increase bilateral co-operation in culture, education and trade facilitation. Hong Kong's Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang met with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and other officials in Prague on Friday. According to Mr Tsang, Hong Kong businesses are looking forward to help Czech enterprises enter the vast Mainland market. Other topics discussed were Hong Kong's increased economic co-operation with China's nine southern provinces, and last month's Legislative Council elections. Mr Tsang also said he was pleased that CzechInvest, the country's investment promotion agency, has established its Southeast Asian regional office in Hong Kong.
Prime Minister Stanislav Gross would like to hold the referendum on the European constitution at the same time as the parliamentary elections in 2006. After his return from Rome on Friday evening, where he attended a ceremony at which the EU constitution treaty was signed by EU leaders, Mr Gross defended his position by saying it would save the state 300 to 400 million Czech crowns (10-13 million euros) and would also reveal the true position that individual parties have towards the EU. While the ruling coalition parties support Mr Gross' view, the opposition Civic Democrats and President Vaclav Klaus have opposed it.