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04-06-2014 18:31 | Chris Johnstone

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President Miloš Zeman says PM Bohuslav Sobotka’s US troop comments a ‘mistake’

President Zeman has weighed into the debate about Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s comments that he saw no need for more NATO troops in Europe. The head of state said he regarded Sobotka’s comments as a ‘mistake’ and any increase of US troops in Europe would be symbolic and would not bother him. The head of state pointed out that Sobotka did not have much experience of foreign affairs and would have to learn from his mistakes. The Czech prime minister’s comments followed US president Barack Obama’s pledge in Warsaw on Tuesday to commit more troops to Central and Eastern Europe in response to tensions in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. President Zeman is also in Warsaw to mark the 25 anniversary of free elections which presaged the fall of the Communist regime.

Coalition spat breaks out over Sobotka’s rejection of more NATO troops in Europe

The head of the smallest party in the governing coalition, the Christian Democrats, has hit out at Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s statement that the Czech Republic would not be calling for more NATO troops in Europe. The Christian Democrat’s Pavel Bělobrádek said Mr. Sobotka’s comments were completely unacceptable and irresponsible. In response to President Barack Obama’s pledge to put an extra USD 1 billion into defence in Eastern Europe, the Czech prime minister said on Tuesday that there was at present no need to increase the number of NATO soldiers on the ground in Europe.

Prime minister fined for failure to get lustration clearance

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has been fined 10,000 crowns for allowing finance minister Andrej Babiš into the government without proof that he did not have an incriminating past from the era of former communist Czechoslovakia. The fine was decided by officials at Prague 1 district council. The government said in a statement Wednesday that Sobotka disagreed with the verdict and would appeal against it in the near future. One of the grounds of appeal is the argument that government ministers are not subject to the so called lustration process. Babiš is currently involved in a court battle with a Slovak archive and historical institute over allegations he was recruited as a communist secret police agent.

Czech economy grows by 2.5 percent in first quarter

The Czech economy has grown by 2.5 percent in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period a year earlier according to the Czech Statistics Office. That’s a lot higher than was previously expected and the strongest quarterly figure for the last three years. The office has previously estimated that the economy grew by 2.0 percent between January and March. Even so, the advance puts the Czech economy just slightly below the level it was at in the third quarter of 2011, when the country started to slip into recession.

Tibet representative regrets Czech about turn

A representative of Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has described it as very sad that the Czech government has switched its stand with regard to the country occupied by China and support for human rights and freedom. On a visit to Prague, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, who is is second placed in the exiled parliament, said the Czech government should have continued its former support for Tibet. He added though that what counted was the support of people not governments. Tenphel, who was invited to the Czech Republic by the Václav Havel Library, said that pressure should be maintained on Chinese leaders to try and safeguard some remnants of Tibetan culture and freedom which were under continuous attack. Former Czech president Havel was a vocal supporter of Tibet. The current Czech government has dropped its former criticism of China over the occupation of Tibet and the ongoing situation there.

ANO poll lead put at around 10 percentage points

The ANO party has opened up an almost 10 percent point lead on the second-placed Social Democrats in the opinion polls according to the results of one survey released on Wednesday. The poll by the STEM agency gave ANO support from 27.5 percent of those questioned. The Social Democrats scored 18 percent with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia in third place with 13.5 percent and centre-right TOP 09 in fourth with 9.8 percent. The Christian Democrats, Dawn Party, and Civic Democrats would all pass the five percent threshold to get into the lower house of parliament according to the poll carried out between May 20 and 27. The latest poll is in line with others putting ANO out in front for voter preferences.

Czech Republic face Canada for Fed Cup 2015 first round

In tennis, the Czech Republic has been drawn against Canada in the first round of the women’s team competition, the Fed CUP. The Czech team will have to fly to Canada next year for the matches taking place on February 7 and 8. The Czech team are already in the finals of this year’s competition which takes place against Germany on November 8 and 9. The Czech Republic won the competition in 2011 and 2012.

Martina Navratilová voices tennis trainer ambitions

Staying with tennis, Czech-born legend Martina Navratilová says she wants to work as a trainer but has not received the right offer. The 57-year old winner of 18 Grand Slam events admitted in a newspaper interview on Wednesday that her other engagement might mean that she might only be available as an advisor for some of the big events. Navratilová, who took US citizenship after leaving communist era Czechoslovakia, said she was open to training men or women players.

Czechs still looking for first win under Vrba after friendly defeat to Austria

The Czech Republic were beaten 2:1 by Austria in a football friendly in Olomouc on Tuesday night. It was their first defeat under new coach Pavel Vrba, a result that followed two draws. The hosts’ only goal was a stunning long-range effort from Tomáš Hořava of Viktoria Plzeň. The squad for Tuesday’s game was almost entirely composed of players from the Czech league, with the only exception striker Matěj Vydra of West Bromwich Albion. The Czech Republic did not qualify for the World Cup in Brazil and are preparing for qualification games for the 2016 European Championships.

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