The Czech Academy of Sciences has a new chairman. The 62-year old head of the Institute for Molecular Genetics, Vaclav Paces, was elected to head the country's most senior scientific research institute on Thursday. The scientist will be replacing the 67-year old biologist and academic Helena Illnerova, who was the first woman to chair the Academy. Mrs Illnerova, who chose not to stay on for another term, intends to spend more time with her family and do more laboratory research.
Should the ruling coalition break up, Czech President Vaclav Klaus would
want the parties of a new government to guarantee that they will have
majority seats in parliament, Mr Klaus told Czech Radio on Thursday. The
Czech President reacted to speculation that the main party in the fragile
coalition, the Social Democrats, plans to form a minority government with
the tacit support of the Communists in parliament.
According to Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, the president's remark is one of many others made by those who hope to influence decision-making at this weekend's Social Democratic Party's nationwide congress, at which the party's future role in government will be discussed and a new leadership is elected.
A young health care worker at a retirement home close to the southern town of Jihlava has been killed by a pensioner. The twenty-two year old social worker was stabbed by the 55-year old man, who was living in the home. He died from his injuries soon after he was rushed to hospital. Police say the pensioner was under the influence of alcohol and psychologists are determining the motive behind the stabbing.
Some eighty university professors and Academy of Science workers have
signed a letter calling onto Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to resign.
The petition was forwarded to his assistant on Thursday. The group of
academics say they want Mr Gross to step down because recent events
show that he lacks the qualities needed to lead the country as a
competent prime minister.
Mr Gross has been criticised for failing to explain how he could afford a Prague flat in 1999. His wife, Sarka, was also involved in dubious business transactions. In the letter, the signatories write the economic activities of Mr Gross' family are a sad example of a lack of personal morale and are having a devastating effect on the social climate.
Meanwhile, the Czech Doctors' Association has called on the minister of health, Milada Emmerova, to force the country's health insurers to pay the money they owe to doctors and hospitals. Public hospitals and hospital pharmacies are currently owed some three billion Czech crowns (over 130 million US dollars) by the General Health Insurance Company. This leaves them unable to pay their debts to medicines distributors.
The International Association of Pharmaceutical Companies is taking the Czech Republic to the European Commission over what it calls a lack of transparency regarding the pricing of medicines in the country. The Czech health ministry abolished a committee which decided on which medicines were covered by health insurance, taking on that responsibility itself. The pharmaceutical companies say the ministry is preventing more effective medicines from entering the Czech market, denying patients the right to the most up-to-date cures.
Over 50 percent of Czechs think the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans after World War II was just, suggests a poll released on Wednesday by the CVVM agency. Two-thirds of respondents said the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsions, should remain in force. An estimated two and a half million Germans were forced to leave their homes and property in Czechoslovakia after the War.
The Social Democratic Party's deputies group in Parliament has rejected early elections as a possible way out of the government crisis. The group met to debate the issue after the Christian Democrats, a smaller coalition party, suggested that an agreement on early elections could break the coalition deadlock. The Christian Democrats have given the main ruling party an ultimatum: either Prime Minister Stanislav Gross resigns or they will trigger the collapse of the coalition government and try to bring about early elections. The third party in the governing coalition - the Freedom Union - has also said it is against the idea of early elections.
A new poll just released has suggested that as many as 60 percent of Czechs feel the country does not need new immigrants, answering with ambivalence or in the negative to a question regarding whether foreigners should be allowed to stay. Responses were similarly negative to the question whether or not the Czech Republic needed immigrants for the future. The Czech Republic has an aging population, and experts generally agree the country would benefit from a new influx of immigrants. Some studies suggest that by 2050 a quarter of the population could be made up of immigrants, a number that echoes general EU estimates.
Liverpool footballer Milan Baros has drawn criticism from both rivals as well as a team mate following a late challenge against Everton's Alan Stubbs that saw the Czech player sent off the pitch on Sunday. After the match Liverpool team captain Steven Gerrard complained that Baros had complicated the team win. The Czech striker could now miss up to three matches in a row, which would leave Liverpool momentarily without a single regular line-up striker: Morientes, Mellor, and Cisse are all on the sick list.