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13-05-2014 18:53 | Ian Willoughby

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Defence minister: Czechs not opposed to stationing of NATO troops on territory

The minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, has denied suggesting that the Czech Republic would not support the stationing of NATO troops on its territory. Mr. Stropnický made the statement in the lower house on Tuesday, a day after an interview carried by the Reuters news agency in which he said the permanent presence of NATO units on Czech soil would be a problem for a significant part of the population in view of the occupation by Soviet troops in the past. The interview was conducted in connection with the increased presence of NATO troops in member states because of the Ukraine crisis. The coalition partners blocked opposition efforts to force a debate on Mr. Stropnický’s comments

Press: Sobotka may meet Obama after Havel memorial event in Washington

The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, may meet US President Barack Obama later this year, Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday. Mr. Sobotka could speak to Mr. Obama at an event in Washington celebrating the legacy of Václav Havel, the newspaper said. A bust of the late president is to be unveiled at Congress in November in connection with the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which Mr. Havel led. The US vice president, Joe Biden, will receive Mr. Sobotka after the ceremony, with Mr. Obama also due to join the meeting, Lidové noviny said, quoting its own sources.

Education Ministry to ban unhealthy foods from schools

The Ministry of Education has announced plans to ban the sale of unhealthy foods at Czech schools. Minister Marcel Chládek said on Tuesday that the ban – which also concerns drinks – would come into effect either at the start of the next school year or in January 2015. Mr. Chládek said he had been disturbed by a recent survey that found that 86 percent of vending machines in schools offered chocolate bars and sweets, while over half contained sandwiches and 19 percent sold crisps. The ban is part of an Education Ministry strategy to foster healthy life styles among the young.

Teachers’ unions criticise government plans to freeze salaries while increasing pay of other public servants

Teachers’ unions have criticised a government plan to freeze their salaries next year while increasing the pay of other public sector workers. Union representatives called for an increase in the overall amount allocated for teachers’ wages and said they wished to discuss their demands with the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, and the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka. The programme for government had promised an increase in teachers’ salaries, which last year reached an average of just under CZK 26,000 a month. The unions also want other employees working in the education sector to get a pay rise.

ČEZ announces drop in production, profits for first quarter

State-controlled power company ČEZ announced a 44 percent drop in first quarter 2014 profits on Tuesday. Continued low electricity prices and weak demand for electricity due to the mild winter resulted in a net profit of just 9.9 billion crowns. ČEZ sees the tough conditions continuing throughout the rest of the year with full year profit expected to come in at 27.5 billion crowns compared with 35.2 billion in 2014. The power giant announced earlier this year that it will not proceed with a tender to expand its Temelín nuclear plant and is under pressure from Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš to pay out all its profits from last year as dividends, a move the company has so far resisted.

Woman gets 12 years for attempting to poison child with anti-freeze

A court in České Budějovice has sentenced a woman to 12 years in jail for the attempted murder of her three-year-old daughter. The woman, who is 23, tried to poison the child in January this year by putting anti-freeze into her food and drink. Doctors saved the girl’s life after being called by the woman’s husband. The case is not without precedent in the Czech Republic; a woman in Karlovy Vary received a 17-year sentence for the attempted poisoning of her daughter in 2010.

First edition of Mácha’s Máj to go on sale at book trade fair

A first edition of the poem Máj by Karel Hynek Mácha is to go on sale at the Book World Prague trade fair, priced at CZK 120,000. The edition was published in 1836, the same year Mácha wrote the poem, which is considered one of the most important in the Czech language. It is the property of the owner of an antiquarian bookshop. The annual book fair gets underway at the Czech capital’s Výstaviště on Thursday.

Czech fight back falls short against Canada

In ice hockey, the Czech team lost 3:4 against Canada in their third match of the world championships on Monday night. The Czechs went ahead in the sixth minute with an opening goal by Roman Červenka before the Canadians levelled in the first period. Canada scored three times without reply in the second period, profiting from fouls and sin binned Czechs. A Czech fight back in the final period culminated with goals by Jiří Novotný and Tomáš Hertl in the 53rd minute but the equalizing goal eluded.

Vrba calls up three uncapped players for Finland friendly

Czech soccer team manager Pavel Vrba has called up three uncapped players for a friendly against Finland in Helsinki on May 21. Goalkeeper Marek Štěch and Sparta Prague’s Lukáš Vácha and Pavel Kadeřábek are in the squad for the first time. Captain Tomáš Rosický is also among the 18 names, though goalkeeper Petr Čech will be missing after recently undergoing surgery. Half of the squad are from the Czech league.

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