The price of flats and houses in the Czech Republic grew by 12.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of this year, according to figures released by Eurostat on Wednesday. This was the fastest growth rate in the entire EU in the first three months of 2016. Analyst Lukáš Kovanda of the company Cyrrus told the Czech News Agency that the reasons for the rise were excessively slow building planning processes in the Czech Republic, as well as increased demand caused by low interest rates stemming from the central bank’s now discontinued weak crown policy.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has been called as a witness in a criminal case linked to the privatisation of the OKD mining company. Mr. Sobotka was minister of finance when OKD was sold off in 2004. The state prosecutor says the CZK 4.1 billion received by the Czech state from buyers Karbon Invest was less than half the real value of the mining firm. Two months after the sale Karbon Invest sold OKD to magnate Zdeněk Bakala’s RPG Industries for a price reported at between CZK 9 billion and CZK 12 billion. The expert who assessed the value of the state’s share in the company and two former senior people at the state agency that oversaw the sale are on trial for misconduct. The prime minister is due to appear in court on September 1.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says he and the leaders of the other three Visegrad states supported the improvement and deepening of relations between the European Union and Israel at a meeting with their Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Budapest on Wednesday. Mr. Sobotka tweeted that the EU and Israel were connected by historical ties, democratic values and economic interests. The Czech leader also said that he had backed cooperation with Israel in the fields of security, cyber-security, innovation, science and research during the meeting in the Hungarian capital.
The Czech crown on Wednesday reached its highest level against the euro since November 2013, when the Czech National Bank launched a currency intervention policy aimed at keeping the crown weak. According to Patria Finance, the crown stood at 26.02 to the euro on Wednesday morning. Under the central bank’s weak crown policy – which came to an end in April – the exchange rate hovered around the 27 to the euro mark.
One of the biggest events of its kind in the Czech Republic, the Colours of Ostrava music festival gets underway in the north Moravian city on Wednesday. The four-day event will this year be headlined by such artists as Norah Jones, Jamiriquai and Midnight Oil. The festival, which first took place in 2002, is held at a former industrial site in Ostrava’s Vítkovice district.
The planned transfer of Czech international footballer Patrik Schick from Sampdoria to Juventus for a reported EUR 30 million will not in the end take place after the clubs announced on Tuesday that they had been unable to reach agreement. It was announced over a month ago that Schick had signed for Juventus in a deal that would have made him the second most expensive Czech player ever. However, the Italian champions’ doctors were reportedly dissatisfied with the results of initial medical tests on the 21-year-old.
The Christian Democrats have dropped a plan to run as a coalition with the Mayors and Independents group in October’s general elections. Instead they would like representatives of the Mayors to run on the Christian Democrats’ candidates lists, chairman Pavel Bělobrádek said after a meeting of senior party leaders on Tuesday evening. The Mayors are due to respond to the Christian Democrats’ proposal next week but leader Petr Gazdík says he still believes in a coalition. The two groupings, who struck a deal in April, would need to achieve double the electoral threshold – meaning 10 percent in total – to make it into the Chamber of Deputies if they ran in unison.
Projects involving representatives of China and 16 Central and Eastern European states are being discussed at a two-day Chinese investment forum taking place at Prague Castle. At the start of the meeting on Tuesday the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, spoke about the huge growth in the number of Chinese tourists visiting his country, a number he said could reach half a million this year. Czech President Miloš Zeman is also taking part in the investment forum and will welcome Liu Yanshan, one of the top leaders of China’s Communist Party, to Prague Castle. The forum builds on China’s Silk Road initiative to boost its international investments and cooperation.
A lower house committee investigating the leaking of information from police investigation files has summoned ANO boss Andrej Babiš and Marek Přibil, a journalist who worked for one of Mr. Babiš’s newspapers, to attend its next session. The MPs also want to speak to other senior political figures as well as representatives of the police and the state attorney’s office over the matter. Recordings released anonymously appear to show Mr. Babiš and Mr. Přibil discussing the possible misuse of police information and targeted campaigns against the former’s political opponents. The ANO leader denies any wrongdoing.