The office of Czech President Vaclav Klaus has revealed that the
president has vetoed a bill that would have established a network of
non-profit hospitals within the country's health care system. The bill,
which would have transformed almost 150 hospitals currently managed by
local authorities into public facilities financed from health insurance
payments, was passed in April with support from Social Democrat and
Communist MPs. It will be returned to the lower house for a new vote.
Mr Klaus - a former head of the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party
- has indicated that he opposed the bill on the grounds that it was the
wrong approach towards the country's troubled health sector.
The veto comes less than a month before general elections on June 2nd and 3rd: health care reform is considered a major issue in this year's election run-up.
The Czech Army's record contract for 234 armoured transporter vehicles,
won last year by Austrian-based Steyr Daimler Puch with a bid of over
one billion dollars, faces a legal threat, according to the Czech
online news server aktualne.cz. A Prague court ruled this week that the
Italian bidder for the contract, Iveco Fiat, was unfairly eliminated
during the first round, the server has reported, citing the company's
Czech lawyer, Viktor Bradac. According to Mr Bradac, the ruling means
that the Ministry of Defence cannot sign the final contract with Steyr,
a subsidiary of US defence giant General Dynamics, since - in his view
- Iveco is back in the tender.
The Ministry of Defence spokesman so far has said that the ministry can not comment until it receives a written version of the court's decision.
Germany has expressed support for a Czech proposal under which target countries would have to approve the importation of waste for incineration. The two countries reached agreement on the issue at a meeting in Prague on Thursday, a spokesperson for the Czech Environment Ministry said. The suggestion will be discussed by the Council of Europe during a debate on waste export next month. There have been several cases this year of German rubbish being illegally imported into the Czech Republic.
The Czech football players Rudolf Skacel, Roman Bednar and Michal Pospisil are celebrating helping their Scottish club Hearts qualify for the Champions League. The three were in action on Wednesday as Hearts beat Aberdeen to secure second place in the Scottish Premier League and reach the prestigious competition for the first time. Skacel is Hearts' top scorer this season with 16 goals.
Canada is unlikely to lift visa obligations for Czechs next month, according to the Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda. His Canadian counterpart, Peter MacKay, was due to announce the step on a visit to Prague in June, but Mr Svoboda said the trip had been cancelled. He said, however, that the Canadian government would continue to discuss the issue. During a recent visit to Canada, Mr Svoboda said Prague would take reciprocal measures unless Ottawa lifted its visa restrictions.
The minister of agriculture, Jan Mladek, does not have a "confidential" category security clearance, after having an application refused by the National Security Office five years ago, Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Thursday. No official reason has been given, but the daily suggests Mr Mladek, a deputy finance minister in 2001, had contacts with Russian businessmen who Czech intelligence had under surveillance. He resigned from the post after the vetting rejection and kept it secret, the paper said.
The Czech Foreign Minister on Thursday presented this year's Gratias Agit awards for promoting the good name of the Czech Republic around the world. Among the recipients was Jaroslava Moserova, a doctor, politician and translator who passed away last month. The Czech-born former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and Olympic skiing champion Katerina Neumannova were also honoured in the ceremony, which took place at the Foreign Ministry.
A Czech government delegation is to leave for Seoul, South Korea, on May 15th to sign a one billion euro contract with the South Korean car maker Hyundai which is to build a car plant in the Czech Republic. Hyundai Motor officials confirmed earlier this week that the project would go ahead despite the fact that the company's chairman is embroiled in an embezzlement scandal. A ceremony to mark the beginning of construction at the Nosovice plant, in the northeast of the Czech Republic, has been postponed indefinitely.