Meanwhile, doctors who have resigned from the Faculty Hospital in Plzeň due to the protest have rejected the hospital’s offer to give them the raises they demand from its own resources. A spokesman for the doctors said they respected the offer but were seeking a nationwide solution that also included issues that could not be resolved otherwise, such as postgraduate education and disproportionate overtime work. Roughly 70 doctors in the hospital have handed in their resignation.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas is being questioned by the Constitutional Court regarding an opposition complaint over social welfare cuts. The prime minister told the court on Tuesday morning that had the government failed to pass social austerity measures by the end of last year the country would have faced damages in the tens of billions. The Social Democratic Party has brought the case to the court because the government fast-tracked the bill through parliament at the end of 2010 after an opposition victory in the Senate. Presiding judge Pavel Rychetský asked Mr Nečas to justify the use of so-called “legislative emergency” to pass the budget which, far from being an extraordinary event is done every year. Prime Minister Nečas responded that the rejection of the cuts would have decreased the Czech Republic’s economic rating which would have entailed further losses, and quickly damaged the country’s reputation and credibility.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini was also in Prague on Tuesday meeting with his Czech counterpart Karel Schwarzenberg. Discussion focused primarily on EU and security issues. A memorandum on consultation and cooperation between their ministries was also signed, as was an agreement on Czech-Italian cooperation on culture, education, science and technology. Mr Frattini and Mr Schwarzenberg also condemned reported attacks on Christian churches in Indonesia and addressed the necessity to protect the rights of Christians internationally.
Czech President Václav Klaus also took the opportunity Tuesday to weigh in again on the pending mass resignation of doctors protesting salary levels, saying that the Health Ministry should make no more concessions. He said he fully supports Health Minister Leoš Heger in his negotiations with the doctors’ unions and that further concessions were not what the people of the Czech Republic wanted either. The president also thanked doctors and nurses who continued to work instead of making threats.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech was named the Czech Republic's Footballer of the Year 2010 at a Prague ceremony on Monday. It is the third time in a row that Čech has won the trophy and the fourth time overall. The 28-year-old Czech international, who capped 78 appearances for the national squad, finished ahead of Arsenal midfielder and Czech team captain Tomáš Rosický and Atletico Madrid defender Tomáš Ujfaluši. FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Portuguese legend Eusebio were present at the awards ceremony to congratulate the winner and to honour Czech legend Josef Masopust on the occasion of his 80th birthday. In 1962, Masopust scored the opening goal in the World Cup final between Czechoslovakia and Brazil.
Five canvasses from Alfons Mucha’s cycle “The Slav Epic” have been moved to Prague from their long-time abode in Moravský Krumlov. The canvasses have been rolled up since four months ago, when the whole cycle was to be moved. Municipal elections allowed a heated debate between the cities to subside for a time, and Prague has reportedly promised the town it can have the paintings for the summer tourist season. However, the director of the City Gallery Prague said the paintings were being moved according to the instructions of Prague for an autumn exhibition of the entire Slav Epic in the autumn.
President Klaus also told reporters on Tuesday that the European Union should get involved in Macedonia's dispute with Greece over its official name. Speaking after his meeting with Macedonian President Dorde Ivanov, Mr Klaus said he understands Macedonia’s interest in acceding to the EU and that Greece should not oppose it. He said he warned his Balkan counterpart that acceding to the EU meant entering a complex institution rather than a paradise, but allowed that it was crucial for Macedonia´s future. Greece is opposed to Macedonia using the name ‘Republic of Macedonia’, saying this name refers exclusively to a region in northern Greece. It insists that Skopje use the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, under which it is also registered with the United Nations.
The State Security Council, which met Tuesday with regional governors to discuss emergency health care plans, has decided to seek extended medical services from the army, the faculty and military hospitals and other relevant institutions. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said following the meeting that the army may be used to transport patients, in addition to providing medical facilities. 3,800 hospital doctors are set to quit on March 1 if their salaries are not raised to meet Western European standards.
Anti-corruption police have opened criminal proceedings in the case of a dubious tender awarded by the previous government to the company ProMoPro during the Czech EU presidency in the first half of 2009. The tender was purportedly the responsibility of the organisational team led by current Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra. Mr Vondra said at the end of January that had not signed and had not even known about the contract with the company, which provided for audio-visual equipment in the amount of half a billion crowns, or roughly six times their worth. Charges of mismanagement of public funding carries a sentence of two to eight years imprisonment.
Former supreme prosecutor Marie Benešová must definitively apologise for calling a group of judicial officials headed by her successor, Renata Vesecká, "judicial mafia", the Prague High Court ruled today. Ms Benešová had spoken of several investigations, namely the corruption case of former deputy prime minister Jiří Čunek, as having been influenced by a “behind-the-scenes judicial mafia” that included Vesecká, former justice minister Pavel Němec, and other high ranking justice officials. The ruling annulled a lower court verdict that found Benešová was not obliged to apologise for the remarks.
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