News ANO puts forward Věra Jourová as European Commission candidate

11-07-2014 08:05 | Chris Johnstone

The ANO party has made an about turn over its candidate to be the next Czech EU Commissioner by saying that Minister for Regional Development Věra Jourová is now its nominee and not Pavel Telička. Jourová said she was willing to be put forward as long as a suitable post in line with her current responsibilities is on offer, according to Czech Television. The move seeks to break a deadlock between the two main parties with worries growing that Czech hopes of security an important portfolio are being dented by the delay putting forward a candidate. Czech Prime Minister Bohulsav Sobotka earlier expressed the hope that the Czechs could land an important economic dossier or portfolio such as energy. Telička, elected as a member of the European Parliament, has been damaged by his past lobbying activities in Brussels, notably his connections with the Czech multi-millionaire Zděnek Bakala.

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Court rules that Prague must pay IDS more than 180 billion owed for Blanka tunnel work

30-07-2015 17:26 | Jan Velinger

A court has wrapped up an arbitration case between the engineering and construction company IDS (Inženýring dopravních staveb) and the city of Prague, ruling that the city must pay 183 million crowns plus interest owed the firm for work on the Blanka tunnel complex. The news was confirmed by Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek. The interest, meanwhile, amounts to just under 14 million. The deputy mayor said an arbitration case was the only way forward in the disagreement over work conducted and monies owed; he stressed that while he regretted the high amount, it was less than the 300 million IDS had sought. A spokesman for IDS confirmed the company was satisfied by the result. Both sides will still have to sort out other invoices which still remain unpaid, the Czech News Agency noted. 

Iraqi pilots begin to receive training in Czech Republic

30-07-2015 14:07 | Jan Velinger

Thirty-one Iraqi pilots have begun training on L-159 fighter jets in the Czech Republic, Deputy Chief of the general Staff of the Armed Forces František Maleninský and Defence Minister Martin Stropnický confirmed. Training on the jets could take over a year; the pilots are to be joined by ground crews who will be given maintenance training. Earlier this year, the Czech Republic agreed to a 750 million crown deal with Iraq on the purchase of 15 L-159s the Czechs no longer need. The price was later adjusted to 780 million due to fluctuation in currency exchange. 

Defence minister says US convoy will travel through Czech Republic to take part in NATO military exercise

30-07-2015 13:47 | Jan Velinger

A US military convoy, numbering around 100 vehicles and several hundred military personnel, will likely travel through the Czech Republic and neighbouring Slovakia in September to take part in a NATO ground forces military exercise in Hungary. The news was revealed by Czech Defence Minister Martin Stropnický, who said the announcement was tentative and that full details of the transfer were still to be discussed. US troops are expected to spend less than 48 hours in all on Czech soil, after they depart a US base in Vilseck, Germany. In March of this year, a similar convoy but greater in strength, dubbed the Dragoon Ride, travelled through the Czech Republic following operations in the Baltic States. 

Pendolino lead car may be largely beyond repair

30-07-2015 11:27 | Jan Velinger

Further inspection of a Pendolino train badly damaged in a tragic head-on collision in Moravia suggests that only the undercarriage of the lead car is likely be salvaged and that the rest of the car could be beyond repair. The head of Prague's Track Vehicles Depot, Miroslav Kupec, confirmed the news. Damage to the vehicle in the tragic collision in Studénka, Moravia, has been estimated at 150 million crowns but could have been considerably higher had the train's driver not braked heavily. In the accident, a Polish truck driver drove onto the track, allegedly ignoring warning signals; the crash killed three people. Representatives of Czech Railways, insurance companies as well the manufacturer of the Pendolino, Alstom, have been meeting to work out the eventual cost of repairs. 

Government agrees to refurbishing and continued technical support for Sokol helicopter fleet

30-07-2015 11:08 | Jan Velinger

The government has agreed to a plan for the general overhaul of eight Sokol helicopters as well as the continuation of standard service repairs of all ten used by the military up until 2021. The general overhaul and repairs (but also spare parts and training of flight and repair crews) are expected to cost the Defence Ministry around one billion crowns. The Sokol copters are used primarily in air rescue, or search and rescue, missions as well as within the Medevac programme. 

Prague Zoo sees birth of first silvery gibbon in Czech Republic

30-07-2015 10:06 | Jan Velinger

A silvery gibbon female at Prague Zoo, has given birth to a healthy baby - the first born in captivity in the Czech Republic. The parents are the female Alangalang and male Flip, both ten years old, who were acquired by the zoo last year. Alangalang arrived in Prague from Howletts, England, and Flip from Munich. Both take excellent care of their young, Prague Zoo said. In the wild, silvery gibbons live on Java and rank as the most endangered of primates. 

Czech fighter pilots, maintenance crews, begin Iceland mission

30-07-2015 09:46 | Jan Velinger

Czech Gripen jets have begun protecting Icelandic airspace, a mission which will run until August 25. Four of the Swedish-leased jets will patrol the skies over the country while a fifth jet is being kept in reserve. Czech pilots are guarding airspace over Iceland for a second time; the Czech military also served in similar missions in the Baltic states as a member of NATO. On Wednesday, the Czechs took over duties from the Royal Canadian Air Force, whose pilots will now reportedly take part in airstrikes against the terrorist group Islamic State. 

Jablonec lose home leg of Europa League qualifier

30-07-2015 09:05 | Chris Johnstone

In football, Czech club Jablonec lost 0:1 in their initial home leg of the third prequalifying round of the Europa League against Copenhagen. The sole goal of the match was struck from almost 25 metres by winger Benjamin Verbič in the 51st minute. Jablonec, which had a handful of scoring opportunities in the first half, complicated their chances an equalizer after Stanislav Tecl was red carded in the 69th minute. 

Cabinet proposes tighter rules for financing political parties

30-07-2015 09:04 | Chris Johnstone

Stricter rules for the financing of political parties were agreed by the Cabinet. The proposed measures include a 3 million crown ceiling on donations to a party from an individual or company. The Ministry of Interior, which drew up the proposal, had been pressing for a lower limit of 2 million crowns. The proposal also seeks to clamp down on the increasing use of political institutions under the guise of non-profit organisations. The proposal calls for them not to be financed in future by a single party. Their operation will also be supervised by a newly created authority tasked with overseeing the financing of political parties. Financing oversight was previously carried out by a parliamentary committee and frequently criticized for its laxity. 

Jana Hybášková selected to head EU Namibia representation

29-07-2015 18:43 | Chris Johnstone

Former Czech member of the European Parliament and diplomat Jana Hybášková has been confirmed as the European Union’s new ambassador to Namibia. Hybášková previously the 28-strong EU as ambassador in Baghdad. She was previously a member of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2009 and before that worked for the Czech diplomatic service with postings in Slovenia, Kuwait, and Qatar. She speaks Arabic fluently. The announcement was made in Brussels on Wednesday amid a series of other staff changes. 

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