Daily news summary News

16-06-2004

Government defends mandate for EU Constitution negotiations

The lower house of parliament has upheld the government's mandate for talks on the EU Constitution, which are due to take place in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. After a four-hour debate on Wednesday, the lower house of parliament did not approve a proposal by the opposition obliging the government to take the views of the opposition parties into consideration during the talks in Brussels. The defeated proposal also sought to prevent the "reduction" of the Czech Republic's independence in the EU. A week ago, the government supported the proposal that Czech negotiators should advocate equal position of small and big EU members. The cabinet is pushing for one EU commissioner for each EU member state and the establishment of a rotating 18-month EU presidency of three countries in the European Council.

Czech opposition tells EU states government lacks mandate

Earlier this week, the chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, sent letters to the Prague embassies of EU member states saying the coalition government's poor showing in the weekend's European parliamentary election meant it had lost its legitimacy to negotiate on issues such as the EU constitution on behalf of the Czechs. Mr Topolanek said it therefore made no sense for other EU member states to negotiate with the Social Democrat-led government. The ruling coalition sharply criticised the Civic Democrats' letter and diplomats said privately that it had been a faux pas.

CTK: Social Democrat leadership recommends to Spidla to step down as party leader

The CTK news agency has reported that some senior Social Democrat party members have recommended to Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla that he step down at Saturday's party leadership meeting. An unnamed source from the party leadership is quoted as saying that the deputy Social Democrat chairman, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross, should take over as party head, while Mr Spidla could retain his position as Prime Minister. Mr Spidla is facing tough criticism from his party colleagues after the Social Democrats were routed in the European parliamentary elections. The party won only two of 24 Czech seats in the European Parliament in what analysts called a voter backlash against the party for abandoning its leftist roots two years after winning a general election. Prime Minister Spidla has called for a confidence vote from the Social Democrats on his party leadership on July 11, but has said defeat would not make him step down as prime minister.

Klaus appoints constitutional judge Zidlicka

President Vaclav Klaus has appointed Roman law expert Michaela Zidlicka as a new constitutional judge, raising the number of the members of the body to 12 and thus enabling the court to debate complex constitutional complaints in a plenum. In all, the Constitutional Court should have 15 members. Constitutional judges are proposed by the president, but their nomination must be approved by the Senate. President Klaus has put forward 15 candidates, one of them twice, since taking office last year. The Senate has rejected five candidates and accepted eight. Earlier this year, the Christian Democrat Senator Zdenek Barta said he would file a constitutional complaint of treason against President Klaus for his delays in naming judges. According to the complaint, Mr Klaus has crippled one branch of power by not naming judges. President Klaus has rejected the allegation.

Kubinyi sacks heads of Krc, Olomouc teaching hospitals

The Health Minister, Jozef Kubinyi, has sacked the heads of the Thomayerova hospital in Prague, and the head of the Olomouc teaching hospital in north Moravia. According to the ministry's press department, the reason for the sackings was that both men failed to manage the deepening economic problems of both hospitals. The head of the General Teaching Hospital in Prague, Pavel Horak, will be charged with running the Thomayerova hospital until a selection process for a new head is decided upon. When he took office several months ago, Minister Kubinyi said he would sack hospital directors where audits showed serious economic problems and mismanagement. Mr Kubinyi has already sacked the head of the Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine in Prague, even though the audit of the facility was only partially complete.

Weather

Thursday should be partly cloudy, with rain and daytime temperatures ranging from 18 to 20 degrees Celsius. In South Moravia, temperatures should reach highs of 23 degrees Celsius.

16-06-2004