The agreement on a property settlement between the state and the church, whose property was confiscated during the communist regime, is unlikely to be reached by the end of this year, shadow culture minister Vítězslav Jandák said on Tuesday. Under the plan submitted by the government the state is to pay 83 billion crowns to churches over a period of 60 years. The state’s obligation to provide financial support to churches would then be abolished. The Chamber of Deputies established a commission in mid-June to prepare a proposal for the settlement after the cabinet had failed to push the bill through in parliament.
A number of deputies are listed as informants in the database of the former military counter-intelligence dating back to Czechoslovakia’s Communist regime, Czech Television reported on Monday. The deputies named were Juraj Raninec, Walter Bartoš and Tomáš Hasil of the Civic Democrats and Pavel Ploc of the Social Democrats. The documents were posted on the website of the Archive of Czech Security Forces on Friday. All of them say they never agreed to collaborate with the military counter-intelligence. According to database’s administrators, not all the people listed were consciously collaborating with the secret service.
Romanies in central and eastern European countries, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia, suffer “tacit apartheid”, the US weekly Business Week reported on Monday, citing a Prague-based human rights worker. According to the article, which focuses on the economic situation of the four-million Romany minority in the region, Romanies mostly live hidden from public eyes in ghettoes situated far from the capitals, such as Prague and Bratislava. Despite EU subsidies, not much progress has been achieved because of “weak political will”, the Business Week has reported.
President Václav Klaus has abolished healthcare fees for newborn babies. The amendment to the government’s healthcare reform package exempts newborns, organ donors and those legally ordered to undergo treatment from paying healthcare fees. As part of the reforms, patients have been obliged since January to pay 30 crowns (nearly 2 USD) per visit to the doctor, and 60 crowns per day spent in hospital. The introduction of fees has come under severe criticism on the grounds that a visit to the doctor should be covered by health insurance. The opposition also wants to see the elderly and children under 18 exempt from the payment.
Czech President Václav Klaus has met with Declan Ganley, an Irish leader of the campaign against the Lisbon treaty. Mr Klaus and Mr Ganley agreed that the Irish rejection of the Lisbon treaty has the same weight as the refusal by any other state. Mr Ganley, the chairman of the Libertas movement, has also met with Czech MEP Jan Zahradil, who said that the Irish euro-sceptic group could be a partner of the Civic Democrats in the European Parliament.
A Czech citizen was arrested in Peru on Monday for attempting to smuggle 13 kg of cocaine to Spain, the EFE news agency reported. The 60-year old Czech was reportedly apprehended at an international airport in Lima when police officers discovered the drugs in his suitcase. The EFE agency reported a similar case in April, but the information was later disclaimed by the Czech embassy in Peru.
The Spanish-made CASA transport planes will be able to fully replace the currently used An-26, the Chief of Staff of the Czech Army Vlastimil Picek said on Tuesday. The statement was made in reaction to Monday’s report by weekly Euro, which claimed that Mr Picek had warned the Defence Ministry against their purchase, citing technical objections. The Czech Chief of Staff said that the renewal of the transportation fleet and replacement of the old aircrafts was a priority of the Czech military.
The Czech military denies that the US radar base due to be stationed in the Czech Republic could emit harmful rays. A report by leading Czech scientists, which was published on Saturday, suggests that the rays emitted by the base could pose a threat to those travelling in airplanes overhead. However, Czech military health officer Petr Navrátil says the study is about a different kind of radar than the one to be located in central Bohemia. An earlier report for the government, assessing the radar at the Kwajalein Atoll which is to be moved to the Czech Republic, did not confirm any health risks.
President Václav Klaus is the best speaker among Czech politicians, according to a study evaluating the rhetorical skills of ten leading Czech politicians. The Westminster polling agency, which conducted the study, praised the head of state for his “thorough use of formal language, clarity and communicability of his speeches”. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek was ranked ninth, due to his “inability to formulate a simple thought into a comprehensive whole”. Controversial Christian Democrat chairman Jiří Čunek came last.