Czech President Vaclav Klaus has accused the cabinet of playing down the importance of the country's approval of the European Constitution. While the official signing ceremony will be taking place in Rome on Friday, the cabinet waited until Wednesday to approve the draft constitution in order to give some time for discussion, Mr Klaus said.
Czechs marked the 86th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia on
Thursday with several events around the country. Although Czechoslovakia
split into two separate states - the Czech Republic and Slovakia - on
January 1st 1993, the national holiday continues to be celebrated every
year in the Czech Republic but is no longer marked in neighbouring
Czech President Vaclav Klaus said October 28th was a very significant holiday as it was a day that the nation's ancestors had anticipated for an entire century. Mr Klaus placed a wreath at the statue of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the founder and first president of Czechoslovakia, at Prague Castle, and visited his grave in nearby Lany. As has become tradition, the Czech President also received foreign diplomats.
Thirteen people were injured - two seriously - on Thursday morning when two buses collided in northern Moravia. A coach, taking a football team aged between 14-18 years to a nearby game, crashed into a local bus when its brakes failed at the bottom of a hill. Police are still investigating the cause of the accident but believe the bus slid on dry leafs.
The Czech Republic has donated 53,000 pounds sterling to the construction of a monument dedicated to the Royal Air Force pilots who flew during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Of the 2,936 pilots from fifteen countries, eighty-nine were from Czechoslovakia. The Battle of Britain Monument will be unveiled in London some time next year and the project is expected to cost 1.6 million pounds.
Some two hundred members of the extreme-right also marked the foundation of Czechoslovakia with a traditional march through the centre of Prague. The members of the Vlastenecka Fronta, or Patriotic Front, gathered at Prague's Palacky Square, named after nineteenth century historian and politician Frantisek Palacky who is often called the Father of the Czech Nation, and walked to Vysehrad Castle chanting nationalist slogans and criticizing the European Union and the current government.
The Czech government has approved the draft European Constitution and decided that Prime Minister Stanislav Gross and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda will sign the document at this Friday's ceremony in Rome. President Vaclav Klaus, who has been very critical of the document, refused to sign it. The ratification process of the document has not been decided as of yet, but it is expected that a referendum on the draft will be held.
News that the government may sell phone operator Cesky Telecom via the capital market sent the stock and Prague indices tumbling on Wednesday, the bourse said. The PSE's main index PX 50 shed 1.47 percent and the blue-chip index PX-D lost 1.42 percent. Telecom shares finally fell 5.23 percent to 315 crowns. Brokers have said a sale of the government's 51 percent share on stock exchanges would mean a considerable increase in supply on the market, the Czech news agency reported, and this made investors offload the stock.
Czech psychiatrist Jan Pfeiffer was among 29 people to receive Time magazine's European 'Hero of the Year' award in London on Tuesday night for his work to reform the Czech mental heath care system. Dr Pfeiffer, a prominent defender of patients' rights, helped lead a campaign to abolish the use of caged and netted beds in Czech institutions.
Tests have confirmed a fifteenth case of BSE or "mad cow" disease in the Czech Republic. The infected cow is from a farm in the Svitava region in the eastern part of the country and vets say that 50 other heads of cattle may have to be put down within the prescribed safety measures. The first case of BSE in the Czech Republic was detected in June of 2001 when the State Veterinary Office imposed strict measures regarding animal breeding, cattle feed and the sale and import of meat and meat products.
A 14-year-old boy has admitted to stabbing to death his classmate aged 13,
outside a school in the north Moravian village of Hanusovice. It is not
clear what motivated his actions, but there is speculation that bullying
may have been behind the attack. Jan Petrek bled to death minutes after
being stabbed in the chest and throat during a fight near his school on
Monday morning. Czechs have been alarmed by a growing number of violent
crimes committed by minors in recent months.
In January a 13 year old schoolgirl was raped and stabbed to death by a classmate and recently five boys under the age of fifteen stabbed a woman in her 80s to death with a pair of scissors, stealing her money. Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has said he will speed up moves in Parliament to lower the age of criminal responsibility, now set at fifteen.