On the second day of his week long visit to the United States, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla is holding a series of meetings with senior US politicians, among them vice president Dick Cheney and senators John Kyle and Bill Frist. At the centre of interest is the reconstruction of Iraq, the Middle East peace process and relations between Europe and the United States. During a meeting with Mr. Spidla on Tuesday, US president George Bush praised the country for being a trustworthy ally and promised the Czech Prime Minister that he would support the Czech Republic's request for a role in the reconstruction of Iraq. Some 700 Czech companies are eager to compete for Iraqi contracts and the Czech government has earmarked more than 18 million dollars in aid to Iraq over the next three years.
Jiri Janecek has been elected general director of Czech public television. Mr. Janecek, who currently heads the news department and is a well known prime time news anchor, got 11 confidence votes out of 15, beating seven other candidates in the final rounds of voting. Mr. Janecek will replace Petr Klimes, who has served as temporary head since the dismissal of Czech TV's former director Jiri Balvin. In recent years Czech public television has been dogged by financial problems and critics say the country's public television network needs to find a new image and undergo an effective streamlining process.
The European Commission has praised the Czech Republic for making significant progress in preparing the ground for EU membership. In an extensive progress report, the European Commission said the country had made significant progress in preparing regulations and administrative structures for being able to use EU cohesion fund money but rebuked the government for not yet having a law on public commissions. It also drew attention to what it called "bureaucratic complications" which place an unnecessary burden on the Czech system of project approval and noted the alarming lack of qualified personnel on regional and interim levels.
The Senate has approved the appointment of deputy premier Pavel Rychetsky as a constitutional court judge. 50 out of 73 senators voted in favour of his appointment. Mr. Rychetsky has said he will now leave the government, give up his seat in the Senate and cease to be a member of the Social Democratic Party. The Senate also voted that Constitutional Court judge Vojen Guettler can continue to hold his position for another ten year term, but rejected the appointment of lawyer Ales Pejchala. Like the other nominees Mr. Pejchala's name was put forward by President Vaclav Klaus who professed to be disappointed by the Senate's rejection of this particular candidate.
Eight of the fifteen Constitutional court judges ten year mandates ended on Tuesday, severely restricting the court in its work.
The National Heritage Institute has signed an agreement on the transfer of the Opocno Chateau and further assets to the Collorado Mansfeld family. However the heritage officials have reportedly not given up the dispute over ownership and want to launch an appeal with the Supreme Court. The Collorado Mansfeld family owned the chateau in 1942 when it was confiscated by the Nazis. Under the post war decrees of President Benes the property was later transferred to the Czechoslovak state. In May of this year, a regional court ruled that the property be returned to the Collorado Mansfeld family.
Thursday is expected to be partly cloudy with scattered showers and day temperatures between 28 and 30 degrees Celsius.
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“Einstein in Bohemia” – Part II: how alienation in ‘half-barbaric’ Prague led him to a new theory of gravity, eventual love of a free Czechoslovakia
“Einstein in Bohemia” – part 1: how a Prague sojourn sparked his theory of general relativity, journey of self-discovery