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05-05-2014 17:23 | Jan Richter

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Czech, German presidents exchange state decorations

German President Joachim Gauck has arrived in Prague for a three-day official visit, his second trip to the Czech Republic since his inauguration in 2012. The German head of state met with Czech President Miloš Zeman on Monday morning; the officials exchanged their countries’ highest state decorations. Mr Zeman told his guest the Czech Republic should no longer act as the EU's troublemaker. Mr Gauck is also scheduled to meet Czech Prime Minister Boshulav Sobotka during his visit that includes trips to the former Nazi concentration camp in Terezín and to the carmaker Škoda Auto, part of the German concern Volkswagen.

Czech TV refuses to air EU elections campaign video

Public broadcaster Czech Television has refused to air a campaign video provided by one of the parties running in the European elections. The clip, supplied by a fringe nationalist party No to Brussels – National Democracy, features Jewish, Muslim, LGBT and other symbols; the broadcaster said the clip’s context could provoke strong negative emotional reactions in parts of the Czech society. Czech TV said it asked the party to provide another clip; the head of the group, Adam Bartoš, denounced the decision and said it was meant to hurt the party at the polls.

Anti-Semitic expressions increase on Czech Internet says report

Expressions of anti-Semitism on the Czech Internet doubled in 2013 compared with the previous year according to the annual report by the Czech Jewish community released on Monday. Instances of anti-Semitism on the Internet totaled 156 last year compared with 82 in 2012. The number of instances has increased fivefold since 2008. The number of anti-Semitic attacks on individuals or property was stable with the Czech Republic still a country where anti-Jewish expressions are uncommon at a public and political level, the report added.

PM Sobotka marks Prague Uprising anniversary

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Monday marked the 69th anniversary of the Prague Uprising of May 1945. Speaking at a ceremony outside the Czech Radio building in the centre of the capital, Mr Sobotka rejected attempts to diminish the uprising’s military significance, and said it was crucial in facilitating the liberation of the country. Around 30,000 people stood up against Nazi troops in early May in Prague; some of the heaviest fighting occurred outside the Czech Radio building in Prague’s Vinohrady district.

European Commission ups forecast for Czech growth, trims deficit expectations

The European Commission has upped its forecast for growth of the Czech economy this year to 2.0 percent from its former February prediction of 1.8 percent. Growth next year should firm to 2.4 percent compared with the previous 2.2 percent. Public finances are also seen a lot healthier with the public deficit expected to come in at 1.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product this year and 2.4 percent in 2015. The previous prediction from Brussels had seen the deficit at 2.8 percent this year rising to 3.3 percent in 2015. The Czech Ministry of Finance sees growth this year at 1.7 percent and 2.0 percent next year.

Budget cuts to affect most ministries in 2015

A draft state budget for 2015 as proposed by the Czech Finance Ministry expects that most government ministries will be affected by budget cuts next year. The Ministry of Agriculture is expected to lose around 6.8 billion crowns, the Interior Ministry around 3.5 billion while the Ministry of Transport is to lose some 2.5 billion. The draft budget however also proposes to up funds for several ministries; the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs should see its budget increase by 18 billion. The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s budget is to shrink by around 53 million which should mostly affect consular services and economic diplomacy, the news agency ČTK reported citing ministry sources. Overall, the budget’s expenses should rise by 15 billion to around 1.126 trillion crowns, with a deficit of around 100 billion. The draft budget is yet to be discussed by the government.

Government approves funding of fighter jets lease

The Czech government on Monday approved funding for the lease of aircraft for the Czech Air Force, the minister for legislature, Jiří Dienstbier, said. The Defence Ministry will pay 21.4 billion crowns between 2015 and 2027 for the lease of 14 Swedish-made Jas 39 Gripen fighter jets. The Czech government approved the lease in March; the Czech army first leased the aircraft in 2004.

Mobile phone rivals to jointly develop fourth generation network

Czech mobile phone operators O2 and T-Mobile announced Monday that they will share the burden of developing a new fourth generation mobile network in the Czech Republic outside of Prague and Brno. The announcement concludes negotiations between the companies that have been continuing since the end of February. The companies say the plus from the cooperation will be that the new network will be rolled out faster and cover most of the country already this year. The country’s third main operator Vodafone had protested the move by its rivals, which now leaves it with the burden of developing its own site.

International terrorist suspect detained at Prague airport

Czech police detained an internationally sought terrorist at Prague airport who was subject to an international arrest warrant, television channel Prima reported. The 27 year old German is suspected of being an Islamic extremist and having taken part in the fighting in Syria. He was being sought for attempted murder. The Czech Republic was not the suspect’s final destination, the broadcaster said. The man has been handed over to police in Germany.

Woman gets 17 years for murdering newborn

A court in Oloumouc on Monday sentenced a 25-year-old woman to 17 years in prison for murdering her newborn child. The court said that last May, the woman suffocated the child shortly after birth and dumped the body in a stream near her house in a north Moravian village. The court rejected the woman’s argument that the baby was stillborn, and that she disposed of the body because she was afraid of her partner and parents. Both the defendant and the prosecution have appealed the verdict.

Sparta Prague win football league title

Sparta Prague became Gambrinus football league champions for the 2013-2014 season with their second chance over the weekend. Sparta missed out on their first chance on Saturday when they lost away to Teplice 1:3. But they could gain the title without kicking a ball if second placed Viktoria Plzeň dropped points again Jablonec. Plzeň, trailing Sparta by 10 points in the league, did just that with a 2:2 draw on Sunday. Sparta’s league title is the first since 2010 and the 36th in the club’s history.

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