On an official visit to Israel, President Vaclav Klaus expressed appreciation for the government's "groundbreaking peace initiative" saying that Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip had restored faith in the Middle East peace process and that it was now up to the Palestinian leadership to show goodwill. Meeting with the Israeli President Moshe Katsav, Mr. Klaus said that the Czech Republic would support a balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the European Union.
A study commissioned by the Czech Chamber of Dentists suggests that in the next 15 years the number of dentists in the Czech Republic could drop by a third, unless medical schools receive more money from the state. The 100 or so graduates every year cannot make up for those who retire. Also many young dentists leave for EU countries where they get paid much higher salaries.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has denied that a change of leadership within the Communist Party is to open the way for a coalition with the Social Democrats after next year's general elections. Mr. Paroubek told journalists that if his party should win the elections then he would favour either a coalition with the Christian Democrats, a grand coalition or a minority government. The Prime Minister said that the Communist Party would have to change more than its leader in order to open the way for closer cooperation.
A new court ruling has once again reversed the decision on the ownership of Opocno Chateau in Eastern Bohemia. According to the Rychnov district court the chateau belongs to the National Heritage Institute, thereby the state. Two earlier court rulings returned the chateau to the last private owners, the Colorado-Mansfeld family, but the Constitutional Court abolished both verdicts in January, bringing the restitution suit back to square one. The property was confiscated on the grounds of the post war Benes decrees and the Colorado Mansfeld family has battled since 1995 to get it back. The case hinges on whether the former owner Collorado Mansfeld was a Czechoslovak citizen and whether he collaborated with the Nazis.
The chairman of the opposition Communist Party, Miroslav Grebenicek, has decided to step down from his post. In a statement for the CTK news agency, Mr Grebenicek said his staying at the head of the party would be pointless, stating the party's programme orientation as the main reason of his move. A spokesperson for the Communist Party said that until October 1 when his case will be discussed by the Central Committee, Mr Grebenicek will not talk to the media. The 58-year old Miroslav Grebenicek has been chairman of the Communist Party since 1993.
The leader of the Social Democrats, former prime minister Stanislav Gross has rejected the statements of some Polish MPs who link the Unipetrol corruption scandal with the controversy surrounding the purchase of Mr Gross's Prague apartment. Stanislav Gross denied the allegations saying the sale of Unipetrol to the Polish company PKN Orlen was approved by the government of Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla last year whereas Mr Gross bought his flat in 1999. Some Czech media suggest that the privatisation of the oil and chemicals group Unipetrol might have been manipulated and bribes amounting to hundreds of millions of crowns were involved.
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed an amendment to a law banning the transformation of hospitals owned by regions into business companies. The amendment will now go back to the lower house which is expected to override the president's veto as the two parties which pushed it through, the Social Democrats and the Communists, have a comfortable majority in the chamber. The Health Minister, Social Democrat Milada Emmerova, says she wants to prevent the transformation of hospitals as she believes they would no longer provide a full range of health care but concentrate instead on more profitable branches of medicine.
One of the two smaller parties in the ruling coalition, the Christian Democrats, have said they will not support the removal from office of the Supreme State Attorney Marie Benesova proposed by the Justice Minister Pavel Nemec of the Freedom Union. The Christian Democrats say they are convinced that politicians must not influence decisions in criminal cases. Relations between Ms Benesova and Mr Nemec have been tense for several months because of certain criminal cases and the crisis culminated a few days ago when Minister Nemec launched disciplinary proceedings against the Supreme State Attorney.
Czech police say they will send two officials to the Seychelles this week to negotiate with authorities over the possibility to extradite Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, a businessman wanted on fraud charges as well as allegedly planning the murder of a customs official. Krejcir fled the Czech Republic two months ago and was later joined on the Seychelles by his wife and son. On Friday it was revealed that all three now have Seychelles citizenship. The Czech Republic does not have an extradition treaty with that country. The Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has suggested it is unlikely the fugitive businessman will be handed over. Mr Krejcir's wife is also wanted by Czech police.
One of the founders of Roma studies in the Czech Republic, Milena Hubshmannova, was killed on Thursday in a car crash in South Africa. One other person, a South African man, also died and three others were seriously injured. Hubshmannova, a professor at Prague's Charles University, was born in 1933 and was one of the Czech Republic's foremost specialists in Roma culture. After the fall of communism in 1989 she helped found the department of Roma Studies at Charles University. Other projects included numerous translations from Romany to Czech. Milena Hubschmannova was 72.