Health Ministry may shut down forty Czech maternity homes

Some forty maternity homes around the country may have to be closed down, the National Reference Centre for Health Insurance Companies announced on Saturday. The homes have registered less than 500 births a year, which gynaecologists say is a dangerously low number. Doctors in such maternity homes gain little experience and may not be able to handle complicated cases.

Gross: Referendum on EU constitution should be held alongside parliamentary elections

Prime Minister Stanislav Gross would like to hold the referendum on the European constitution at the same time as the parliamentary elections in 2006. After his return from Rome on Friday evening, where he attended a ceremony at which the EU constitution treaty was signed by EU leaders, Mr Gross defended his position by saying it would save the state 300 to 400 million Czech crowns (10-13 million euros) and would also reveal the true position that individual parties have towards the EU. While the ruling coalition parties support Mr Gross' view, the opposition Civic Democrats and President Vaclav Klaus have opposed it.

Czech Republic and Hong Kong agree to strengthen relations in culture, education, and trade

Hong Kong and the Czech Republic have agreed to increase bilateral co-operation in culture, education and trade facilitation. Hong Kong's Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang met with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and other officials in Prague on Friday. According to Mr Tsang, Hong Kong businesses are looking forward to help Czech enterprises enter the vast Mainland market. Other topics discussed were Hong Kong's increased economic co-operation with China's nine southern provinces, and last month's Legislative Council elections. Mr Tsang also said he was pleased that CzechInvest, the country's investment promotion agency, has established its Southeast Asian regional office in Hong Kong.

Archaeologists find underground passages at Prague Castle site

Archaeologists at the site of Prague Castle have discovered an underground tunnel and a network of corridors. The Chairman of the civic association European Club, Jindrich Vacha, said on Saturday that members of his association and Prague Castle archaeologists found the passages two weeks ago and believe they date back to the 15th century. They are of an unusual shape because the passages at the height of the waste area were left narrow and were only widened at the height of the shoulders.

Czech artist may face charges for mock version of Prime Minister's billboard

Czech artist Stepan Mares, who made a mock version of Prime Minister Gross' election campaign billboard, may have to face criminal charges, the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. Instead of carrying the photo of the prime minister with the slogans "I am a Social Democrat" and "I really mean it", the artist erected his own mock version of the billboard with terrorist Osama Bin Ladin's face and the slogan "I also really mean it". The billboard has been taken down and Stepan Mares may be charged with the propagation of a movement that violates rights and freedoms, says Mlada Fronta Dnes.

Tennis: Jiri Novak secures spot in Swiss Indoors final

Unseeded Czech Jiri Novak booked a place in the final of the 989,750-euro ($1.26 million) Swiss Indoors tournament on Saturday with a 6-4 6-0 win over Austria's Stefan Koubek. Jiri Novak, who knocked British world number four Tim Henman out of the tournament on Friday, needed just 50 minutes to see off the Austrian world number 73. He will face either Argentinean fourth seed David Nalbandian or Chilean seventh seed Nicolas Massu in the final.


Sunday is expected to have cloudy skies with scattered rain and day-time temperatures ranging from 11 to 15 degrees Celsius.