Czech Health Minister Leoš Heger told TV Prima on Sunday that the country’s health care system would be in critical condition if no deal is reached with dissatisfied hospital doctors within the next ten days. More than 3,800 physicians have handed in their resignations in a bid to secure salaries up to three times the national average; the resignations are to take effect in March. Mr Heger said the government, which is to discuss possible courses of action at its Wednesday session, would have to adopt an emergency plan. The doctors’ demands are “absolutely unrealistic”, according to Minister Heger who said he realized doctors were underpaid but only promised them higher wages as part of a broader health-care reform.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg began on on Sunday for a two-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. At a meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, in Jerusalem, he discussed the strengthening of economic, scientific and cultural relations between the two countries. The Czech foreign minister said he would to see a formal upgrade of the relations between Israel and the EU. Mr Schwarzenberg is scheduled to meet the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and the prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Salam Fayyad. On Sunday, Mr Schwarzenberg also opened the newly established Israeli-Czech Trade and Industry Chamber in. Czech ambassador to Israel, Tomáš Pojar, told Czech Radio on Sunday trade between the two countries was growing, and the new chamber should further facilitate contacts between Czech and Israeli companies.
Pavel Kořan, the head of the Czech Sports Association that holds the largest stock in the troubled betting giant, Sazka, told Czech TV on Sunday the firm might sell some of its assets to improve its balance. A court in Prague launched insolvency proceedings against the firm that owes around ten billion crowns. Mr Kořan also believes the firm should a multi-purpose arena in Prague whose 2004 construction cost Sazka around eight billion crowns, along with other real estate property owned by the betting and lottery firm.
Eleven out of 14 regional Social Democrat party organizations have nominated their candidates for the party chair, the news agency ČTK reported on Sunday. Two months ahead of a party congress that will elect the new leader, South Moravian governor Michal Hašek secured seven nominations, while the party’s acting chair, Bohuslav Sobotka, landed four. Political analysts see Mr Hašek as more willing to compromise with the centre-right coalition government than his rival for the post. However, regional nominations are not binding for delegates at the congress that meet in Brno in March.
Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil, from the Civic Democrat, is the most trusted member of the Czech government, according to an online poll by the SANEP agency released on Sunday. More than 50 percent of those who took part in the poll said they trusted the justice minister, followed by Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, from the TOP 09 party, and Transport Minister Vít Bárta, from Public Affairs. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, who ranked top in the previous poll, now came in eight.
The recently-appointed Supreme State Attorney, Pavel Zeman, told Czech TV on Sunday he would look into some of the suspicious arms deals at the Defence Ministry. These include a 14.4-billion purchase of Pandur armoured vehicles, a 2.7 billion deal to buy Tatra trucks, and the planned purchase of Gripen fighters that never materialized. Mr Zeman also said that a special division should be created as part of his office to fight corruption.
A mass in Prague’s St Francis of Assisi church commemorated on Sunday the 800th anniversary of the birth of St Agnes of Bohemia, a daughter of the Bohemian Kings Přemysl I Otakar who became a nun and devoted her life to charity. She was canonized by the Catholic Church in November 1989, just days before the beginning of the Velvet Revolution that ended communist rule in the country. The mass was celebrated by the Grand Master of the Knights of the Cross with the Red Star, founded by Agnes of Bohemia in 1233 as the only religious male order founded by a woman, and the only order founded in Bohemia and Moravia.
Fire fighters rescued a police patrol that got stuck in a swamp during an operation to rescue a man who threatened to commit suicide, the news agency ČTK reported on Sunday. The incident occurred in the area of Mariánské Lázně on Friday night when a woman asked the police for help after her boyfriend attacked her and threatened to kill himself by freezing to death in a nearby forest. The policemen found the man but got stuck in the swamp, and had to call the fire brigade to get them out. The man, who was actively opposing his rescue, had to be handcuffed before he was then taken to hospital, a spokesman for the fire brigade said.
Litvínov coach Robert Reichel has stepped down over a series of poor results. On Sunday, the club announced that 54-year-old Vladimír Kýhos will replace Mr Reichel, 39, who was on the Czech national team that won gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Litvínov, ranking 11th in the top Czech hockey division, are four points behind the 10th place that ensures a spot in the playoffs qualifying round.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych beat Spain’s Fernando Verdasco 6:4, 6:3 and 6:2 at the Australian Open on Sunday and for the first time in his career advanced to the tournament’s quarterfinals. Sixth seed Berdych made nine unforced errors and scored 11 aces in the match; the 25-year-old Czech said he was playing more aggressively and made fewer errors. The Czech number one will play third seed Novak Djokovič from Serbia in the quarterfinals.
The start of the week will be cloudy and overcast, with snow in places. Daytime highs should range between -4 and 0 degrees Celsius.