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02-04-2014 19:28 | Ian Willoughby

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Amazon drops plans to build distribution centre in Brno in face of local resistance

The internet retail giant Amazon has for now dropped plans to build a new distribution centre in the Czech Republic’s second city Brno. Amazon’s director of European operations Tim Collins told Czech journalists on Wednesday that the company was now considering other locations in central Europe. Councillors in Brno voted three times to reject an Amazon plan for a CZK 2.7 billion distribution centre in a local industrial zone; one argument against was that the Moravian capital’s current territorial plan did not allow for such a construction. The centre would have created 1,500 jobs.

Brno politicians surprised by Amazon move

Politicians in Brno have reacted with surprise to Amazon’s decision to drop plans to build a new distribution centre in the city. Deputy mayor Oliver Pospíšil, who on Tuesday had been insisting Amazon were still interested in investing in the project, said he had received no indications that the internet retailer was going to give up on the city. Mayor Roman Onderka said he would await an official letter from the company regarding its plans. Green Party representatives welcomed the news; they said the distribution centre would have caused congestion nearby, making life unpleasant for locals.

Zeman: Creation of Kosovo military would mean arming of former members of terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army

Speaking on a visit to Serbia, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, said the creation of an independent military in Kosovo would mean arming members of the former Kosovo Liberation Army which had been responsible for acts of terrorism. The dissolution of the Kosovo Liberation Army had been one strand of a peace deal between the Serbs and the Kosovo Albanians, Mr. Zeman said on Wednesday. The government of Kosovo has decided to create the state’s own army, a move which is opposed by Belgrade. Mr. Zeman said Kosovo, which many countries had not recognised, was to put it mildly a very strange state with a strong drug mafia influence.

NATO chief Rasmussen to visit Prague next week

The general secretary of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is to pay a visit to Prague next Thursday. He is expected to hold talks with Czech government representatives on the further participation of Czech troops in a NATO mission in Afghanistan and summit of the military alliance that is due to take place in the Welsh city of Cardiff in September. NATO’s current mission in Afghanistan concludes at the end of this year, and talks are underway to extend it until 2016.

Sobotka aims to persuade ANO ministers to back Paskov mine wind-down plan

Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says he aims to persuade ministers from coalition partners ANO to back a plan under which the state would help mining firm OKD wind down the Paskov mine in north Moravia. Mr. Sobotka said on Wednesday that the state could not abandon people in the region. Industry Minister Jan Mládek, also of the Social Democrats, has put forward a proposal under which the state would spend CZK 1.1 billion on redundancy payments, re-qualification and site clearance, if OKD delayed closure of Paskov from later this year until the end of 2016. ANO ministers, including party chief and finance minister Andrej Babiš, have rejected the plan.

TOP 09 want some teaching in Romany to help children overcome language barrier

The opposition TOP 09 party has produced a plan under which children from the Roma minority would be partly taught in the Romany language at elementary schools. Czech Radio reported that other parties broadly backed the idea, though some have expressed reservations over the creation of separate Romany classes. TOP 09 say the removal of the language barrier that some Roma children encounter when they start school would later result in lower numbers ending up at schools for those with learning difficulties. The party want to discuss the idea with stakeholders, while it will be debated by the lower house’s Education Committee next month.

Survey: Three-quarters of Czechs believe public officials are corrupt

Three-quarters of Czechs believe that most or almost all public officials are corrupt, suggests an opinion poll conducted by the CVVM agency. Only 2 percent of over 1,000 people surveyed last month said that corruption in the public administration was an exceptional occurrence. Political parties and government ministries were rated the most corrupt institutions in the survey. The findings were little changed from those recorded in similar polls in recent years.

Jan Becher – Karlovarská Becherovka said to be up for sale

French spirits producer Pernod Ricard is looking to offload Karlovy Vary based producer Jan Becher – Karlovarská Becherovka according to a report by the Reuters news agency citing well informed, but unnamed, sources. The French spirits producer, the second biggest in the world, has owned the Czech company since 2001. It has refused to comment. Jan Becher’s profits in the 2012-2013 were hit by the ongoing hangover from the 2012 methanol spirits scandal in the Czech Republic with a pre-tax profit of around 170 million. The sale price of the Czech spirits group is put at just under 4 billion crowns.

Prague unwilling to invest in repeatedly flooded parts of zoo

Prague is not willing to invest in parts of the city’s zoo which have been flooded repeatedly in recent years, the city’s mayor Tomáš Hudeček said on Wednesday. Mr. Hudeček is pushing for the zoo’s management to build planned new pavilions costing tens of millions of crowns in higher parts of the complex, which lies by the River Vltava in the Troja district. The mayor said even if the zoo was fitted with flood defences they could be breached in the event of an exceptional inundation.

Czech Davis Cup squad given boost before Tokyo tie

In tennis, the Czech Republic’s weakened Davis Cup team has been given a boost with news that Japan’s number one player, Kei Nishikori, has been forced to withdraw from the upcoming quarterfinal tie due to a groin injury. He is expected to be replaced by Taro Daniel, ranked 190 in the world singles rankings. The Czech team for the tie in Tokyo starting Friday is without Tomáš Berdych and is composed of Lukáš Rosol, Radek Štěpánek, and Jiří Veselý.

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