Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said that his Social Democrat party will nominate former finance minister Pavel Mertlík as the country’s next European Commissioner. He added that the next Commissioner had a good chance of getting one of the more significant portfolios. The term of the current Commission expires at the end of October. Mertlík is currently rector of the Banking Institute. A battle within the government coalition is expected with the ANO party likely to push its candidate for Commissioner as well.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has warned that preparations for finalising a proposed new law on the Czech civil service have to be hurried up if the target of getting it into place by the start of 2015 is to be met. Some of the details over how to create a de-politicized and professional civil service have yet to be agreed between government parties. Deputy prime minister Pavel Bělobrádek this week cast doubt on the targets to get the bill through the lower house in June and the upper house, the Senate, by July. The European Commission has threatened to block funding to the Czech Republic unless the key legislation is up and working in 2015.
The TOP 09 party has called for the country’s highest honour to be awarded to a former Soviet dissident. The party wants the Order of the White Lion to be awarded in memorium to Natalia Gorbanevska. Along with seven others the Russian staged a short lived protest in Moscow’s Red Square against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. She was imprisoned afterwards and later detained in a psychiatric institution. She left for France in 1975 and died there last November.
The board of the Czech National Bank suggested on Wednesday that it could quit its weak crown policy later than initially expected. The bank originally expected its currency interventions to keep the national currency lower than 27 crowns/euro would finish at the beginning of 2015. But it now appears, according to the latest comments by bank governor Miroslav Singer, that inflationary pressure will still be so low by then that the weak crown can probably be pursued longer
Czech industrial production moved up a gear in March according to the latest figures from the Czech Statistics Office. Production was 8.7 percent higher than a year earlier compared with the 6.7 percent advance in February. The value of new orders was 16.6 higher in March than a year earlier with most of that demand coming from foreign firms but domestic demand also sharing a substantial slice of the new contracts.
Hungarian oil refining giant MOL has sealed a deal to become the second biggest petrol retailer in the Czech Republic with the purchase of 125 AGIP filling stations. The value of the purchase from Italian refining company ENI was not revealed. MOL also revealed that it has made an offer to buy out ENI’s almost 33 percent stake in Czech petro-chemical firm Česká Rafinérská. Polish controlled Unipetrol though still has first option to buy that stake.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs is opening up the gardens of its baroque Prague headquarters, Černínský Palace, to stage a celebration of the country’s 10 year membership of the EU. The palace will be open from 10.00 am to 16.00 pm for guided tours with the garden events, including a concert by the band, Buty, starting at 17.30 pm. Exhibitions on Southeast Europe and 10 years of Czech EU membership will also take place in the gardens.
Hundreds of people including war veterans and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and other politicians attended an event in Plzeň on Tuesday evening marking the 69th anniversary of the liberation of the West Bohemian city at the end of WWII. The gathering, held at a monument entitled Thanks, America!, was the culmination of the five-day Celebration of Freedom. Plzeň was liberated by the US army on May 6 1945.
The widower of 1980s pop star Iveta Bartošová is suspected of complicity in her suicide, the TV station Prima reported on Tuesday evening, quoting a state attorney. Josef Rychtář could face up to three years in jail if found guilty of the charge. Bartošová, who was 48, threw herself under a train on the outskirts of Prague on Tuesday last week. In recent years her career had been in decline and she was a staple of the Czech tabloid media.
Montreal forward Tomáš Plekanec opened the scoring in Game 3 of the Canadiens’ second-round match-up against Boston on Tuesday – his third goal of the playoffs so far. The Canadiens dominated, spurred by a breakaway goal by P.K. Subban, at one point leading 3-0 at the Bell Centre before Boston clawed back to make it 3-2. Montreal scored an empty-netter in the dying minutes to settle matters at 4-2. The Candiens lead the series 2-1.
My Prague – Rob Cameron
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Hockey legend Jaromír Jágr turns 45
Marie Iljašenko: a European poet
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Jan Antonín Baťa always said he put his people first, says granddaughter Dolores Bata Arambasic
Academic Michael Smith: Czech govt. is supporting education of well-off through “free” universities