Deputy Interior Minister Jiri Vacek, the government's leading drugs expert, has announced his decision to resign in the wake of a scandal over his education. Vacek allegedly failed to complete his secondary school studies yet in recent years he claimed to have graduated from university and used the title "engineer". Vacek said he'd written a letter of resignation and it would be on his superior's desk on Wednesday morning. Vacek, the chief author of the of the Christian Democrats' uncompromising drugs policy, emigrated to Germany in 1968 and spent twenty years there. Although he claimed to have completed his studies in Germany, he failed to produce any documents that would prove this.
Responding to the news at the start of his official visit to France, Mr. Gross said he was not against a meeting of party leaders at which he would once again present his stand on the matter. He said he was unpleasantly surprised by the fact that the Christian Democrats had waited for him to leave the country before presenting their initiative and emphasized that they were free to walk out of the governing coalition if that was their choice.
President Vaclav Klaus has warned that the Czech Republic may not be
able to ratify the EU Constitution within the EU-set date, if the
Constitutional Court does not launch a serious debate on the
compatibility of the Czech and EU constitutions, according to the
president's spokesman Petr Hajek. The President recently wrote a
private letter to the head of the Constitutional Court Pavel Rychetsky
asking him for his views on the subject of compatibility of the two
constitutions and whether the Czech Constitution would have to be
amended before the EU Constitution could be ratified. The president's
spokesman said that Mr. Rychetsky's written answer had disappointed the
The latest Eurobarometer poll suggests that support for the EU Constitution among the public has grown in the past year with two thirds of Czechs now supporting it.
Professor Sadai Nazarov, who has political asylum in the Czech Republic, has been released from an Azeri jail but his return to the Czech Republic may be complicated, according to his son Elshan. He has been charged with six serious crimes which the Azeri penal code punishes with life imprisonment. Nazarov was arrested in January on a visit to his homeland. In the early 90s prof. Sadai Nazarov served as aide to the former Azeri prime minister Sarat Huseynov and fled to the Czech Republic in the mid 1990's after the regime of president Heydar Aliyev accused Huseynov of planning a coup. The Czech Foreign Ministry has called for "a humanitarian approach and a speedy resolution to the case", stressing that Nazarov is under the Czech Republic's protection.
The leader of the coalition Christian Democrats, Miroslav Kalousek said on Tuesday that the scandal over Prime Minister Stanislav Gross's private finances was threatening the government's operability and has developed into a serious political crisis. Mr Kalousek, however refused to say what the Prime Minister should do under the circumstances. The Christian Democrats plan to initiate a meeting of all heads of parliamentary parties, with the exception of the Communists, to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, has suggested that early elections are the only possible solution to the crisis. He said that all parliamentary party leaders, with the exception of the Communists, should meet to debate this possibility. The regular term of the current coalition government, based on the slimmest possible majority of 101 votes in the 200-seat lower house, expires in mid-2006.
A special Roman Catholic service was held on Thursday in the Church of St. Peter and Paul on Prague's Vysehrad hill, dedicated to St. Valentine, celebrated in some countries as the patron saint of lovers in secular tradition. The church at Vysehrad claims to own the holy relics of St. Valentine. The holiday came to the Czech Republic with the fall of communism but has not taken root in the country. This year many sweetshops and florists have put up special Valentine's Day decorations but have not reported increased sales, the CTK news agency said.
Employment in high skilled professions in the Czech Republic is below the EU average but higher than in Austria, Spain and Italy, according to European Union Council documents published by the Czech financial internet server Mesec.cz. In the Czech Republic employees in high skilled jobs account for 34 percent, the fifteenth highest figure in the 25-nation block. At the top of the ladder are the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Denmark with more than 40 percent. Low-skilled employees make up 45 percent in the Czech Republic. A lower number within the EU can only be found in Italy, Spain, Portugal and Slovakia.
The Czech government's anti-drug council is likely to have a new head, two months after its former chairman Josef Radimecky was sacked. Ivo Kacaba, a former counter-intelligence officer who has worked for charities in recent years, has won the selection process and is likely to head the office and implement the government's anti-drug strategy by 2009, according to a government spokesman. The strategy, passed by the government last autumn, focuses more on the dangers of using marihuana and so-called party drugs.
A new Eurobarometer survey suggests that the level of support for the European Union Constitution in the Czech Republic is at its historic high but also that Czechs are among the biggest Euro-sceptics in the EU. Last autumn almost two thirds of Czechs said they supported the EU Constitution, which is by 15 percent more than a year ago. Less than 50 percent of Czechs see EU membership as an advantage.
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