Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has dismissed criticism from the head of state relating to the manner in which the Czech government selected its nominee for the European Commission. President Zeman said in an interview for the weekly Tyden that the prime minister had humiliated the country by letting the commission’s president-elect, Jean-Claude Juncker, hand-pick one of the Czech nominees himself. Prime Minister Sobotka on Monday issued a statement saying that he considered the president’s criticism unjustified and unnecessary and said the head of state was clearly ill-informed. Mr. Sobotka said that his meeting with Mr. Junker had revolved mainly around the portfolio which the Czech Republic would like to manage and noted that all EU member states had held similar talks with the commission’s president-elect. After lengthy negotiations the Czech government named regional development minister Věra Jourová as the country’s nominee for EU commissioner.
The blood plasma company Diag Human which is suing the Czech state for allegedly failing to protect its investment in the Czech Republic says the protracted court battle is not over. The company said on Monday it would appeal the verdict of a Czech arbitration court and take the case to a foreign court of law. The verdict of the arbitration court, delivered to both parties last week, is being interpreted differently. The Czech Health Ministry says it is a definitive verdict in the Czech Republic’s favour, meaning that following an appeal it will not have to pay the company eight billion crowns in compensation, while Diag Human claims that last week’s ruling upholds an earlier verdict according to which the Czech state will have to compensate the firm for a marred deal in the 1990s.
The Finance Ministry on Monday revised the country’s economic growth forecast for 2014 upwards to 2.7 percent. The re-evaluation is based on the better-than-expected results in the first quarter. The original growth estimate for this year was 1.7 percent.
A drawn-out dispute between lawyer Pavel Hasenkopf and the Office of the President over the authorship of ex-president Václav Klaus’ controversial 2013 amnesty may be settled out-of-court, the ctk news agency reports. Pavel Hasenkopf, who filed a law suit against the president’s office for claiming that he was one of the authors of the amnesty, has accepted an offer to try to reach an out-of-court settlement. He had asked for 7,000,000 crowns in compensation, saying that the claim had damaged his reputation. The amnesty which Vaclav Klaus declared at the end of his second term in office saw the release of over 111,000 prisoners and halted the prosecution of a number of high-profile cases of large-scale corruption and financial fraud.
Prague’s Václav Havel International Airport is to undergo a 150 million crown reconstruction which will enable the airport to deal with an increased number of outgoing and incoming flights smoothly. The make-over is being made in preparation for the start of regular flights from Soul which will see the huge A380 airbuses land regularly at Prague airport, disgorging and taking on board a large number of passengers. The outsize plane made three landings in Prague last year and airport officials say it taxed the airport’s infrastructure to the limit. Under the present conditions such flights could delay others.
There will be major personnel changes in the Czech military as of August, general staff spokeswoman Jana Růžičková told the CTK news agency. Army Chief of Staff Petr Pavel has selected three new deputies, to replace officers who will be serving in NATO structures or retiring. Jaroslav Kocián will be chief inspector of the Czech military, Jiří Baloun will head the Joint Operations Centre and Josef Bečvář will serve as first deputy chief of staff. More changes may be in the pipeline if the Army Chief of Staff Petr Pavel is elected chairman of NATO’s military committee. The Czech government nominated him for the post last week. A decision is expected in September.
The Czech government will pay the German carmaker Volkswagen 301 million crowns after losing a dispute with the firm over settling debts following the privatization of Škoda Auto, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Monday. Volkswagen acquired Škoda in 1991 but claimed then Czech government siphoned off hundreds of millions of crowns. Earlier this year, the Czech government lost an international arbitration in the case as well as a court case heard by an Austrian court. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš had released the funds, and said he would determine who was responsible in the case, the daily said.
The Association of Czech pharmacies has protested against the plans of Czech Post to deliver over-the-counter medicines as a new service. It argues that this form of enterprise would be in violation of the law since the medicines would not be sold by a pharmacist who can offer medical advice on how they should be taken. The post which is losing traditional clients due to electronic communication has been diversifying its activities in order to curb a steep fall in profits. It claims that it is fully within its rights in offering such a service since over-the-counter medicines are already available on the internet.
The Supreme Court in Olomouc has upheld a 12-year sentence for a man who gave a young woman a lethal amount of crystal methamphetamine. The nineteen-year-old died within hours of taking the drug which she and her friend were given as a reward for cleaning the man’s house. Another man who was involved in the incident got a two year suspended sentence. An autopsy confirmed that the young woman died of a massive overdose of the home-made drug.
Repair work on the railway line between Prague and Kolín continues in the wake of Sunday’s accident in which a train took a wrong track and damaged a switch. According to a Czech Railways spokesperson the respective line may be out of operation until Tuesday midday. Express trains have been rerouted, while the undamaged line on this route is heavily taxed with delays of up to 30 minutes. Replacement buses remain in operation for many destinations.