Friday morning’s meeting between the leaders of the coalition parties brought no answers to the new appointments of defense and transportation ministers. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said that he hopes to pick the candidates for the ministerial positions next week. He has previously indicated that if the Civic Democrats and the LIDEM party exchange the two posts, it is possible that LIDEM chairwoman Karolína Peake would become the Defense Minister. President Václav Klaus expressed doubts on Friday over Ms Peake’s suitability for this appointment.
Viktoria Plzeň finished top of their group in the Europa League after beating defending champions Atletico Madrid 1:0 at home on Thursday night, thanks to a goal from Václav Procházka. Plzeň had already qualified for the knockout stage of Europe’s second-tier competition prior to their final group stage game. The same applied to Sparta Prague, who drew 0:0 away with Athletic Bilbao. The pair’s success means it will be the first time two Czech clubs have still been in European competition in the New Year since 2004.
The Czech ombudsman Pavel Varvařovský is planning to lodge a legal complaint against the system of checks for the unemployed called DONEZ, which will come into effect starting January. DONEZ requires people registered as unemployed to appear at public administration centers a few times a week. The measure is meant to prevent people who receive unemployment benefits from working illegally. Mr Varvařovský believes this constitutes an excessive encroachment on human dignity.
President Václav Klaus has refused to sign an addendum to the Lisbon Treaty on the creation of a European Stability Mechanism. The president said on Friday that he considers the European Stabilization Mechanism to be ill-conceived and absurd. The addendum to the treaty which was agreed on at an EU summit last December has been ratified by both chambers of Czech Parliament, but the president’s refusal to sign it makes the Czech Republic the only EU member state not to have completed the ratification process. The Senate called on the president on Thursday to sign the addendum without further delay, noting that failure to comply with Parliament’s decision in this matter would be in violation of the constitution.
A gorilla named Kamba, who resides at the Prague zoo, is due to give birth in January, but already a month before sixty people are ready to step in at any moment, to help the mother who most likely is also suffering from a heart condition. Because of her condition, the birth may be tricky and dangerous, so the zoo’s veterinarian has a list of in-house and external specialists who are on call and would be able to help with the delivery. Another gorilla in the zoo named Kyjiva will also give birth around the same time, but the staff do not expect complications in this case.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has announced significant concessions to the government’s S-card system streamlining social and welfare benefit payments that is to come into effect in January next year. In line with a fresh agreement reached with Ceska Sporitelna and the Czech Postal Service S-Cards will not be mandatory for payments and will only serve for identification purposes. Under the proposed amendment, people will be free to decide whether they want their benefits sent to the S-card account, a different account or by post.The only exemption concerns those suspected of exploiting the welfare benefits system.
The Czech Defence Ministry is to equip the armed forces with new uniforms. According to the ministry’s spokesman Jan Pejšek the purchase for summer and winter uniforms to the tune of 93 million crowns is to be made via the NATO support agency, after the ministry’s tender for new uniforms was cancelled by the Czech anti-monopoly office. The ministry has had problems placing a tender for new uniforms for the past two years.
Thousands of people who were forced to work as virtual slaves in a Czechoslovak army unit in the 1950s could receive compensation, the news website iDnes reported. Men sent to the Auxiliary Technical Battalions would get a one-off payment of CZK 1,800 for every month of what was practically imprisonment, under an Interior Ministry proposal to place them in the same category as “class enemies” jailed by the Communist regime. The latter have already received similar compensation and the move comes in response to a court case in September in which a former “member” of the Auxiliary Technical Battalions won compensation. The proposal is set to go before the government.
The Senate has called on President Vaclav Klaus to sign the addendum to the Lisbon Treaty relating to the creation of a European Stability Mechanism. The addendum to the treaty which was agreed on at an EU summit last December has been ratified by both chambers of Parliament but still lacks the president’s signature making the Czech Republic the last EU member state which has yet to complete the ratification process. The Senate has called on the president to sign the addendum without further delay, noting that failure to comply with Parliament’s decision in this matter would be in violation of the constitution. The country’s Eurosceptic president postponed putting his signature to the Lisbon Treaty for as long as possible, signing it only after the EU nodded to his demand for a Czech opt-out from the treaty’s Chapter of Fundamental Rights.
Two Hungarian women have been detained after customs officers found 7 kg of marihuana in their luggage. The women, aged 19 and 31, were transiting the Czech Republic by train and the drug was found during a routine check at the Olomouc railway station. Its street price has been estimated at 700,000 crowns.