The chairman of the Czech Doctors’ Union, Martin Engel, has revealed that hospital doctors across the Visegrad 4 (which comprises the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary) will stage a symbolic event on November 20 to protest current salaries and other conditions within the healthcare sector. Speaking to journalists on Monday, Mr Engel said the protest would last roughly half-an-hour and would not affect hospitals from functioning fully. Doctors are reportedly unhappy over salaries (wanting to earn as much as three times the monthly average) and – in the Czech Republic – are against what they see as ‘resignation’ by the Health Ministry allegedly allowing health insurance companies to dictate terms of treatment and coverage. In 2011, Czech doctors took part in a protest campaign threatening to quit unless they received pay hikes. Doctors in state hospitals now earn average salaries of more than 57,500 crowns a month; the average monthly salary in the country last year was less than 25,000.
On the occasion of the 94th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia on Sunday, President Václav Klaus decorated 22 individuals in recognition of their merit to the state at a ceremony at Prague Castle. The highest Czech decoration, the Order of the White Lion, was awarded to two WWII veterans, Alexander Beer and Vasil Korolov; the president awarded the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk to former political prisoners Leopold Färber, Mons. Karel Jaroslav Fořt, Jaromír Jarmara and others, while the Medal of Merit was handed out to, among others, scientists Jiří Drahoš and Václav Havlíček. The president also decorated former footballer Ivo Viktor and javelin champion Barbora Špotáková.
In his annual address marking the anniversary of independent Czechoslovakia, President Václav Klaus warned that the Czech state has grown weaker yet has, at the same time, swelled or become bloated. The state and its laws, institutions and representatives were no longer respected, the president suggested, particularly by the younger generation. In his last such address as the head-of-state, Mr Klaus called for a reform of public finances but warned of unrealistic expectations from the EU. In his speech, he repeatedly criticized the media for – in his view – forwarding the interests of lobby groups and NGOs, as well as for ridiculing the state.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg missed Sunday's ceremony at Prague Castle where President Václav Klaus, for the last time as head of state, presents state honours and decorations to distinguished personalities. A spokesman for the prime minister said Mr Nečas could not attend the event for health reasons while Mr Schwarzenberg told the news website lidovky.cz he was out of Prague for the day, adding it didn’t really matter whether politicians attended the ceremony.
Twenty Czech Jewish Holocaust survivors met in Israel on Sunday to remember their wartime fates more than 70 years ago. The meeting was organised by the Prague Military History Institute. In 1939, 150 Jewish children were passed on to foster families in Denmark, where they escaped the Holocaust. Those taking part in Sunday’s gathering in the small town of Neve Ilan (near Jerusalem) had not seen each other for 70 years, living in Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, and the US. The last time they saw each other they were between 14 -16 years of age. Attendees of the meeting were accompanied by relatives, including grandchildren, some of whom learnt for the first time about their Czech roots, the news agency ČTK said.
Christian Democrat Euro MP Zuzana Roithová has officially filed candidacy papers to run in the country’s upcoming presidential election, joining fellow competitors such as former prime minister Jan Fischer, former prime minister Miloš Zeman, deputy head of the Senate Přemysl Sobotka, and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. Mrs Roithová received around 81,000 signatures backing her candidacy – some 31 thousand more than needed. The first round of the first direct presidential election in the country’s history will take place on January 11th and 12th.
A macaque monkey that escaped from a mini-zoo in Poland and slipped into the Czech Republic at the beginning of September has been recaptured, local police have revealed. The macaque was caught after returning repeatedly to a village in the area of Náchod where it received food from a local inhabitant. Police spokeswoman Eva Prachařová said food given had helped the monkey survive but suggested that conditions – including fresh snow at the weekend – had been tough.
Czechs on Sunday mark the 94th anniversary of the foundation of independent Czechoslovakia, observed as a national holiday. Several events commemorate the establishment of the precursor of modern-day Czech Republic; a ceremony with a military oath was held at the National Memorial at Vítkov; another ceremony was hosted by the National Museum in Prague. The celebrations conclude with a ceremony at Prague Castle hosted by President Václav Klaus.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will miss the evening’s ceremony at Prague Castle where President Václav Klaus, for the last time as head of state, presents state honours and decorations to distinguished personalities. A spokesman for the prime minister said Mr Nečas could not attend the event for health reasons while Mr Schwarzenberg told the news website lidovky.cz he was out of Prague for the day, adding it didn’t really matter whether politicians attended the ceremony.
A leader of the coalition TOP 09 party, Finance Minister Miroslav
Kalousek, said his group would only participate in a government led by the
current prime minister, Petr Nečas. Speaking on a Czech TV channel, Prima,
on Sunday, Mr Kalousek said his party would also leave the coalition if the
lower house of Parliament next week makes changes to the government’s tax
Mr Kalousek’s statement comes at a time when Mr Nečas finds himself under pressure from within his party, the Civic Democrats, and a week before he runs for re-election as party chair. Some Civic Democrat MPs, who have refused to back the government’s plant to raise VAT rates, have called for Petr Nečas to step down as party leader.