News

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Czech president accepts resignation of education minister

Czech president Vaclav Klaus has accepted the resignation of Education Minister Dana Kuchtova of the Green Party. The minister has stepped down after being accused of failing to draw sufficient money from European Union funds. Ms Kuchtova said at a press conference on Thursday that the ministry became more open under her management and cited the postponement of state unified school-leaving exams and the secondary school system reform as her biggest successes. The Green Party is entitled to the post of education minister under the coalition agreement but has not yet selected a candidate.

Some Greens against current foreign minister

Some members of the Green Party don't want Karel Schwarzenberg to continue as foreign minister, as "he has not taken a single green step in his post", according to the Internet server aktualne.cz. They have also criticised Mr Schwarzenberg's support of the planned U.S. missile defence radar on Czech territory.

Earlier this week, the heads of five regional branches of the Greens called for talks on whether the party should remain in the coalition government. They criticised the party's leadership for not supporting the Education Minister Dana Kuchtova. They want the conditions under which the Green Party would remain in government to be on the agenda at a forthcoming national conference. The Greens are the smallest party in the coalition, which also features the Civic Democrats and Christian Democrats.

Czech finance minister says euro may not be adopted in 2012 without reforms

The Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has warned the country would be unable to adopt single European currency in 2010 without undertaking far-reaching reforms of the health insurance and pension systems. Mr Kalousek said on Thursday that the country's public deficit is expected to drop this year to 3.6 percent of GDP and it should reach below 3 percent in 2008. The country won't be able to maintain its public deficit under this level without the reforms, which is one of the criteria for euro adoption, the finance minister added.

Vaclav Havel to guest-edit Czech daily

The Czech daily Hospodarske Noviny came out in a special edition on Thursday, with former Czech president Vaclav Havel assuming the role of its editor-in-chief. Thursday's edition was published under the motto Responsibility and Fate and its main theme chosen by Mr Havel is Russia and its relations towards Central and Eastern Europe. Madeleine Albright, Garry Kasparov or Timothy Garton Ash are among the people addressed by the guest editor Vaclav Havel.

Hospodarske Noviny borrowed the idea of using a guest editor from the British daily The Independent, which featured the Irish rock band U2 singer Bono Vox as an editor for a day. Hospodarske Noviny has also invited the current Czech president Vaclav Klaus to be a guest editor in the future.

Czech neo-Nazis not to march through Prague's Jewish quarter

The Prague Town Hall has not allowed the neo-Nazi march through Prague's Jewish quarter which was announced to take place on 17th November, because the date and the venue has been already booked by the Jewish Liberal Union. The neo-Nazis would have to choose a different route for their march.

The march was originally scheduled to take place on 10th November. That day marks the anniversary of the Kristallnacht, the Nazi-inspired pogrom on Jews that took place in Germany and Austria in 1938. It has been granted permission by Prague City Hall, whose officials claimed they couldn't ban it as it was officially announced as a protest against the Czech mission in Iraq.

Shengen area to open on 21 December

The passport and customs controls at the borders between the new and the old EU member states will be abolished on the 21st December, two weeks before the original date, the Portuguese EU presidency announced in Brussels on Thursday. The Shengen area will open to nine new EU states, including Czech Republic and Slovakia. According to the Interior Ministry, the Czech Republic is prepared for the upcoming integration into the Shengen area and doesn't have problems with the earlier date.

Pentagon delegation to discuss Czech foreign missions

The U.S. defense secretary deputy assistant for coalition affairs, Debra Cagan, has come to Prague to discuss the participation of Czech soldiers in foreign missions with the Defence Ministry representatives. One of the topics on the agenda is the possibility of the United States donating light armoured vehicles to the Czech Republic. Czech soldiers are now deployed in several foreign missions in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Kosovo. They are also to continue operating in a field hospital in Kabul. A Czech special forces unit from Prostejov, south Moravia, that has already operated in Afghanistan twice, might return to the country at the Untied States' request.

Outstanding women of Czech origin awarded at the Senate

An award ceremony has taken place on Thursday evening at the Senate to honour five women of Czech origin for their outstanding achievement in art, science, sports, charity work, business, and public life. Among those nominated this year are the Britain-based architect and designer Eva Jiricna and the oldest granddaughter of the late shoe-magnate Jan Antonin Bata, Dolores Bata Arambasic.

Police to investigate switching of newborns

Police have started investigating the switching of two newborn girls at the hospital in Trebic nine months ago. The parents of one of the babies recently began to doubt whether the child was theirs and a DNA test confirmed their suspicion. The other parents have not yet been informed. Four girls were allegedly born at the hospital on the 9th December, so there are three families that may possibly be raising somebody else's child.

Weather

Mostly overcast skies and rain are expected in the following days, with temperatures reaching daytime highs of 14 to 18 degrees Celsius.