Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected the notion that under his leadership the Czech Republic has gradually been abandoning the late president Vaclav Havel’s legacy with respect to democratic principles and human rights observance in the world. In an interview for the ctk news agency Mr. Sobotka said that since taking office in January of 2014 his cabinet had considerably improved the country’s image abroad and was more successful than its predecessors in promoting Czech interests in the European Union. The coalition government has come under fire for fueling business ties with China at the cost of downgrading its support for Tibet. Mr. Sobotka said the Czech Republic was not ignoring human rights issues, merely strengthening economic diplomacy.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will visit the United States in November where he will attend the unveiling of a bust of the late president Vaclav Havel in the U.S. Congress, the ctk news agency reports. The unveiling ceremony has been scheduled to take place on the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. In 1990, the late Czech president delivered one of his most famous speeches before the U.S. Congress.
The company eMoney Services, which owns the rights to the Prague multi-purpose Opencard has filed a law suit against the city of Prague and the Prague Transport Authority. The company claims it is owed 40 million crowns for rights to the card and another 30 million crowns for services provided for Opencard’s operation. City Hall has been locked in a drawn-out dispute with eMoneyServices and took over the running of the card after the contract for its operation expired. However it lacks the right to change or re-programme the existing software. Prague’s Municipal Court recently issued a preliminary order preventing the firm eMoneyServices from blocking Prague’s transport card, a step that would have affected close to one million city transport users.
Visiting Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer on Thursday met for talks with the Czech head of government Bohuslav Sobotka. The two officials signed an agreement on strengthening cooperation in business, science and education. Fighting cross-border crime was also a topic high on the agenda since the Bavarian authorities are having an increasing problem with home-made drugs smuggled across the border from the Czech Republic. Bavaria will open an official representation in Prague later this year which should further improve bilateral relations, long hampered by the controversial Beneš decrees.
Coalition parties appear to have patched up but not fully resolved their clash over the share out of seats on supervisory boards of state companies. Last week’s move by ANO leader and finance minister, Andrej Babiš, to replace a swathe of board members at state controlled power company ČEZ with his nominees created anger, particularly from the smallest party the Christian Democrats, which found it had no representative on the board. Wednesday’s meeting of party leaders resulted in agreement that the Christian Democrats would put forward its candidate to be reviewed by the finance ministry. Social Democrat leader and prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka admitted afterwards that full agreement had not been reached. ANO bosses continued to argue that the ministry responsible for the state company should have the right to decide how to fill the board, a policy which is in conflict with the share out policy of recent years.
Hundreds of film fans have been queuing up for tickets to the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival which is due to kick off on Friday. The festival offers viewers over 200 films, including seven international premieres, two Czech premieres and, for the first time ever, an animated film. The festival will open with the international premiere of the American sci-fi I Origins, which will be personally introduced by the film’s lead actor Michael Pitt, director Mike Cahill and actress Astrid Bergès-Frisbey. Among this year’s celebrity guests are Mel Gibson, Michael Pitt, French actress Fanny Ardante who will present her third film Obsessive Rhythms for which she wrote the screenplay and directed and award-winning Hollywood actress Laura Dern.
The Czech Jewish community has protested against the presence of American actor Mel Gibson at this year’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival and the fact that he is to be presented with the Crystal Globe Award in recognition of his contribution to world cinema. In a letter sent to the festival’s president the Jewish community says that Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ portrays Jews as evil and bloodthirsty enemies of Jesus and argues that the award presented to him may fuel anti-Semitism.
Czech entomologist Milan Řezáč has discovered an unknown spider species in the Macocha abyss in south Moravia, the ctk news agency reports. The spider is from the Harpactea family and has been given the working name “six-eyed-spider”. Řezáč, who earlier discovered a new spider species in Israel, will publish a description of his latest find in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová beat her friend and compatriot Lucie Šafářová 7:6, 6:1 in an all Czech semi-final on Thursday, opening the way for her third final at Wimbledon. On Thursday she will face either Romania’s Simona Halep or Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard hoping to win a second Grand Slam title.
In football, Czech and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech is being counted on by the London club for the upcoming season and longer term future. Čech’s agent Viktor Kolář said a transfer to Paris Saint-Germain or Monoco is out of the question at the moment and the Czech keeper is part of Chelsea’s long term plans. His comments appeared in Thursday’s edition of the daily Hospodářské Noviny. Rumours of a transfer for Čech and his replacement by on-loan Chelsea and Belgian national keeper Thibaut Courtois have been circulating for some time.