The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda is seeking to rally EU support for Denmark which faces mounting pressure from Moslem countries following the publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammad. Mr. Svoboda said that while he considers the caricatures in bad taste, the violent reaction to them is unacceptable. The Czech Foreign Minster would like to see the EU take a united stand in condemning the violence and he has suggested that the EU could provide some form of financial compensation to Denmark for the economic losses it has suffered in connection with the scandal.
Meanwhile, the Czech charge d'affaires in Iran Michal Cerny who was summoned to the Iranian Foreign Ministry on Sunday denies having apologized for a re-print of one of the satirical cartoons in the Czech press. The Czech official said he had merely received an official note of protest from the Iranian Foreign Ministry, but had not extended any apologies. The Iranian newsagency IRNA said on Monday the Czech charge d'affaires had apologized for the conduct of the Czech press. The Czech Foreign Ministry has said it sees no reason to apologize, citing freedom of the press in a democratic country.
Distributors have warned they will cut medicine supplies to three heavily indebted hospitals as of Wednesday. Two big hospitals in Prague - the Bulovka and Thomayer Teaching Hospital as well as one in south Moravia could soon face a serious crisis. Their current supplies are not expected to last longer than a week or two. The payment deadlines for other hospitals have been cut from the current 90 to 14 days. All three hospitals affected have said they will seek new distributors. Money problems have affected all spheres of the health sector where there is a serious backlog in payments.
Health minister David Rath will have to consult any further reform measures with a special government commission, according to the economics daily Hospodarske Noviny. The ministers radical cost-cutting measures have antagonized many health workers associations and the prime minister told the daily that he would like the health minister to get stronger backing from the Cabinet. The paper however indicates that the real reason for the setting up of this commission may be that the health minister is loosing credit with the ruling Social Democratic Party. Doctors, pharmacists and dentists have called a demonstration against the health minister's reforms in Prague on February 24th.
The captain of the Czech hockey team at the Olympic Games in Turin is to be Robert Lang from the Detroit Red Wings. The national team's coach Alois Hadamczik said on Tuesday that Domink Hasek would be in the goalpost for the teams' first match against Germany on Wednesday, while Tomas Vokoun would take his place in the match against Switzerland. Only then will he decide on the lead goalie.
Wednesday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.
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