Health Minister Tomáš Julínek has decided to divide his health care reform package into several parts that will go to Parliament separately. The Czech Parliament will first vote on drafts on patient and emergency services that might come into force in January 2009. More controversial bills on health insurance and university hospitals, which have been heavily criticized by the opposition and some government MPs, will come later. Minister Julínek also said he wanted to hold further talks with the opposition and professional organisations over the controversial parts of the government’s health care reform.
The Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair will launch flights between Prague and Nottingham by the end of October, company representatives told journalist in Prague on Thursday. Ryanair hopes to annually transport 60,000 passengers between the two cities; tickets for the new flight should sell at 669 crowns, or just over 40 U.S. dollars, including taxes.
The Czech Army will begin testing Pandur armoured personnel carriers. Test of the Austrian made vehicles will start at an army base in Šternberk, Moravia, on Tuesday, and will take several weeks. The Defence Ministry will also start negotiating a new contract with the Austrian arms producer for the purchase of 107 Pandur APCs. In one of the biggest army deals in history, the Czech Army originally wanted to buy almost 200 of the armoured vehicles. The government abrogated the initial contract last year because the Austrian manufacturer did not manage to supply the APCs in time.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic would not
support further ratifications of the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Schwarzenberg told
the Austrian daily Der Standard on Thursday that if the EU summit in
Brussels comes up with such a proposal, the Czech Republic will not support
it. The Czech foreign minister also said that it was very important for all
EU institutions to “resist the temptation” and not pressure countries
which have not yet ratified the Lisbon Treaty. Mr Schwarzenberg is
attending an EU summit looking at ways out of the crisis caused by
Ireland’s rejection of the reform document.
The Czech Republic is one of five EU countries which have not yet began the Lisbon Treaty ratification process. The Constitutional Court is due to rule after the summer on whether the document is in line with the Czech constitution.
Czech opera singer Eva Urbanová in the title role of Libuše by Bedřich Smetana opened the 50th year of Smetana’s Litomyšl International Opera Festival in Litomyšl, eastern Bohemia on Wednesday night. The performance took place in the courtyard of the Litomyšl chateau, where the composer Bedřich Smetana was born in 1824. The opera festival will continue until July 5.
Some Czech shops have been selling rice with illegal genetic modification, a spokesman for the Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection authority told journalists on Thursday. The rice was packed by a Czech company but it came from an Italian producer that didn’t declare the foodstuff as genetically modified. The importer now has to withdraw nearly 38,000 packs of the GM rice from the Czech market.
Czech Television has been fined 18.5 million crowns by the oversight and regulatory body known as the Board for Radio and Television Broadcasting. The fine has been levied for what the Board deemed inadequate separation of its programming from those which feature advertising by its sponsors. Czech Television has appealed the decision.
A new opinion poll by the CVVM agency gives the opposition Social Democrats a substantial lead over the ruling Civic Democrats. According to the poll, 37% of Czechs would vote for the Social Democrats, while only 27.5% would vote for the Civic Democrats. Meanwhile, the communists would gain 15.5% of votes. The Civic Democrats have been consistently trailing in the polls for several months, which has given the opposition Social Democrats additional momentum in seeking early elections.
The Czech crown has broken yet another barrier against the Euro, trading at 24 crowns to one Euro. The currency also broke a record against the dollar, trading at 15.45 crowns to the dollar. The Czech crown has been consistently strong for many months, with some analysts predicting the currency will stabilise by the end of the year.
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