Prague leaders of the right of centre Civic Democrats (ODS) have decided to continue coalition talks with fellow right wing party TOP 09 at an extraordinary meeting on Thursday. Their candidate to be mayor Bohuslav Svoboda described the meeting as long and stormy. Talks with TOP 09, which won the most votes in local elections last month, have soured amid calls by TOP 09 for ODS Prime Minister Petr Nečas to step in and salvage a deal between them.
TOP 09 leaders say Prague ODS bosses are keen to seal a coalition with the Social Democrats so that they can hold onto what they have described as a cartel of power. Reports say that the local ODS already offered a proposed coalition deal to the Social Democrats to govern Prague town hall on Wednesday. TOP 09, headed by former central bank governor Zdeněk Tůma, got 30 percent of votes in Prague in mid-October with the Civic Democrats on 20 percent and Social Democrats 18 percent.
The Czech government approved on Wednesday a Senate bill to formally recognize anti-communist resistance in former Czechoslovakia. If passed by the lower house and signed by the president, the bill will grant active participants in what is referred to as the “third resistance” the status of war veterans. Anti-communist fighters will be able to apply for verification at the Defence Ministry. The bill met with opposition from the Social Democrats and Communists, who labelled it as an attempt to politically interpret history.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas met with his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk on Thursday in Warsaw. Both men said they saw eye to eye on the main questions under discussion, EU issues including disciplining countries running up excessive budget deficits. Talks also touched on the enlargement of the European Union, national and energy security. Poland will take over the helm and chair the European Council during the second half of 2011.
The British widow of a WWII Czech war hero and post war victim of Communist persecution has failed in a battle over compensation for the long delay in getting legal rehabilitation for her husband. The Czech Press Agency reported on Thursday that Gertrude Bryks, widow of RAF pilot Josef Bryks, had failed in her claim for 1.0 million crowns in compensation from the Prague circuit and city court. Bryks and his bride returned to Czechoslovakia after the war but he was jailed under the Communist regime in 1949 and died in prison in 1957. His name was only fully cleared in 2006.
The daily Mladá fronta dnes on Thursday drew on military intelligence phone tapping to highlight suspicious manipulation of a 2.6 billion crown contract for heavy vehicles provided by Czech manufacturer Tatra. One recording revealed business middleman in the contract, Pavel Stošek, saying that part of the money promised him would be used to pay high-placed officials. The paper said Stošek had been hired to make sure there would be no public tender for the deal. The contract for the vehicles was signed at the end of 2006 with their price doubling during discussions to around 3.2 million each.
Former caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer has topped a list of politicians which respondents wish would make a comeback according to a survey by the SANEP agency. Almost 15 percent of those questioned said they would like to see Mr. Fischer - who led the technical government before elections in May this year -return to public life. Former president Václav Havel came in second place with 8.3 percent and former Freedom Union chairwoman Hana Marvanová third with 7.2 percent. The worst scoring was former prime minister Stanislav Gross who resigned in disgrace.
Prague’s iconic department store Kotva reopens on Thursday after a far reaching reconstruction launched in 2008. The store was the most modern of its kind when it opened in February 1975 two months ahead of rival Maj. But the store began quickly to look dated after 1989 when major makeover took place elsewhere and new out of town centres sprung up. A wrangle over ownership of the store for a long time braked any moves to modernise.
The head of the Czech Medical Chamber has rejected rationing of healthcare in hospitals in the closing months of the year as apparently funds dry up. Chamber president Milan Kubek delayed operations and longer waiting lists should be rejected as funds were available. He said that health insurers had 18 billion crowns in reserves and it was a political decision whether to use this money or not. He added that the fact that 2 billion crowns more was spent on healthcare in the first 10 months of the year compared with the same period in 2009 was proof that funding could be found. The health minister has indicated that delayed operations are possible if funds and doctors are short.
Czech-born former world number one tennis player Ivan Lendl says he is ready to ask for his nationality back. Ostrava-born Lendl emigrated to the US in the 1980’s and was given citizenship there. Back in his homeland for a veteran tournament including a match against major rival Björn Borg on Friday, Lendl said it was bizarre to arrive with a US passport. He said he was considering asking for dual nationality.
Forecasters have warned of winds approaching hurricane force late on Thursday and through to Friday. Winds on exposed mountain tops in the north and north-west of the country could reach around 100 kilometres an hour according to the national meteorological office. The warning applies until Friday evening
For the rest of the weather, daytime temperatures will reach around 15 degrees Celsius on Thursday before slipping over the next days as sunny weather gives way to clouds and showers.