Education Minister Josef Dobeš on Friday rejected the idea of a mass lay-off of teachers as inconceivable and said he had received no such information from the Finance Ministry. According to figures released this week the austerity measures would leave the ministry 15 billion crowns poorer in the next two years. Finance minister Miroslav Kalousek responded to the statement by saying that the broken-down austerity package has been dispatched to every ministry with details of how much money each institution would have to save.
The fate of reforms in the education sector remains unclear as a week of student protest actions draws to a close. Thousands of students around the country took part in demonstrations and happenings to express their opposition to a proposed government reform which includes the implementation of university fees and which they fear would threaten the autonomy of universities and give more influence to political and economic elites. At a press briefing on Friday Education Minister Josef Dobeš expressed regret that student leaders had been unwilling to meet with him to debate the controversial plans, saying that the street was not the place to gain information or resolve problems. However student leaders have been calling for the minister’s dismissal, saying he is deaf to their arguments only wanted to hold the meeting for its media value.
Prague’s chief prosecutor Vlastimil Rampula who returned to office last week on the grounds of a court ruling which invalidated his dismissal six months ago, has countered a move by his predecessor to sack his deputy Libor Grygárek. Mr. Rampula said he had found the reasons cited for Mr. Grygárek’s dismissal inadequate. One of the reasons cited was Mr. Grygarek’s ties to a Prague lobbyist. The move is seen as part of Mr. Rampula’s efforts to regain ground and consolidate his position at the High State Attorney’s Office in Prague. Meanwhile his superior Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman and Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil have said they will continue to seek ways to secure Mr. Rampula’s dismissal. The latter is suspected of sweeping cases of large-scale corruption under the carpet.
The new Seat Toledo will be produced in Škoda’s Mladá Boleslav plant, in central Bohemia, company spokesman Josef Baláž told the ctk news agency on Friday. The new generation Seat Toledo is to be a sister model of the planned new compact limousine Skoda Rapid. The Seat Toledo is to appear at a car show in Geneva next week. Skoda Rapid is to be presented later this year. With the exception of Citigo, Skoda produces all its models, namely Fabia, Octavia, Superb, Roomster and Yeti, in the Czech Republic.
Six people are reported injured in a bus crash in Ceske Budejovice late Thursday. Two buses collided in the city centre for as yet unknown reasons. One of the bus drivers remains in serious condition. The others suffered moderate injuries and some remain under observation with a concussion. The preliminary damage assessment is at 1.5 million crowns.
After several days of minor flooding resulting from the thaw, the water-levels of the country’s rivers are reported to have stabilized. Flood alerts have been called off in all high risk areas and meteorologists say the predicted drop in temperatures should stop the thaw in the mountain regions leading to a drop in water levels. In the course of the past fortnight fire fighters in south Moravia and north Bohemia have had to use explosives to break up huge blocks of ice jamming rivers in order to restore the flow of water and prevent local floods.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas met with his British counterpart on Thursday in London to discuss a joint stance ahead of the EU summit that started in Brussels on Thursday evening. The two prime ministers travelled to Brussels together by train. Both countries will be pushing for an effort to further deepen the common market at the summit, where 25 out of 27 EU countries will sign a new fiscal compact on Friday. The United Kingdom and the Czech Republic are the only two member states to not sign the compact, which is designed to stabilize the euro and bind governments towards fiscal responsibility. However, Mr. Nečas noted that the door remained open for future Czech agreement and has denied that not signing the compact at this point would isolate his country.
In related news, Mr. Nečas said ahead of the start of the summit that the fiscal compact is less important than a stronger European effort to create a single market, which would increase the EU’s ability to compete. He added that he would discuss these two points at the summit. The Czech Republic has joined an initiative of over ten countries aimed at supporting a single market, which the Czech prime minister has said is “the only way to boost the European economy.”
Former MP and current director of the law academy Kroměříž, Zdeněk Koudelka, will be running for the office of judge at the Constitutional Court. He announced his candidacy at a news conference on Thursday after a meeting with Czech President Václav Klaus. The president said Mr. Koudelka was a great choice for the post and that his knowledge of constitutional law was impressive. The Senate will now have to approve the president’s pick for the office. In December, Mr. Klaus had suggested the head of Prague’s city court, Jan Sváček, for the post; however, the upper chamber of Parliament turned down his choice.
A fresh study by the Interior Ministry concludes that there are over 4000 militant right-wing extremists in the Czech Republic. According to experts, some 400 individuals make up the hard core of the right-wing extremist scene, which due to its propensity to violence is a long-term threat to society. The study also predicts an increase in attacks on Czech citizens of Romany ethnicity over the next five years. Several experts worked on the study, which was led by sociologist Miroslav Mareš. It recommends taking preventive measures in schools to prevent extremism spreading among young people.