News CEZ cancels Temelin tender after government refuses guarantees
Czech utility ČEZ has cancelled the tender to build two new nuclear reactors at its Temelin site, adding that it had informed the remaining bidders, US based Westinghouse and the Russian-Czech MIR 1200 consortium. The move comes a day after the Czech government explicitly stated that it would not give any state guarantees for construction of the nuclear new power plants. At the same time, the Cabinet reiterated its general support for nuclear power and called for the ministries of industry and trade and ministry of finance to plan the country’s next steps for its development by the end of this year in the context of redrawing its long term energy policy. ČEZ Chief Executive Daniel Beneš said in a statement that future development with the state would be necessary to develop nuclear energy given the fact the country could face an electricity shortage in 20 years time.
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Fourteen employees from the management of the Czech government Agency for Social Inclusion, which is aimed at helping integrate Roma and other deprived groups, into mainstream society, handed in their notices on Thursday. They wanted to express their disagreement with the Minister for Human Rights, Jiří Dientsbier, over the way the agency should be run. According to the agency’s Lucie Macků, they are in particular angered by the recent dismissal of the agency’s long time head Martin Šimáček. She said the employees don’t want the agency to remain within the ministry’s authority and have called for it to be established as an independent entity.
A group of European public figures have protested against the Days of Jerusalem Festival, which is to be held as part of the Pilsen s 2015 cultural events. In an open letter addressed to the European Commission, parliament, and council, they claim that the label European Capital of Culture is being used to help legitimise Israel’s political strategy. They are asking the Commission to “take steps to ensure that no event held as part of the European Capital of Culture official programme is breaching EU foreign policy and misinforming or manipulating the public for the political gains of a third party state.” Among the signatories are the linguist Noam Chomsky, former Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and British film director Ken Loach. The festival will be held in Pilsen in June, presenting dance, music, visual arts, films and cuisine.
Dozens of people have called the Sazka lottery firm in recent days, claiming to be the winners of a record 2.5 billion crown lottery jackpot. The spokesman for Sazka said people are making up various stories about losing their ticket – one claimed the dog had eaten it. He also said they had received calls from women who would like to marry the prospective billionaire. The winning ticket was bought in the Pardubice region only one day ahead of the Eurojackpot draw. Its owner still hasn’t come forward five days after the winning number was announced.
NATO has requested the Czech Republic to renew its surveillance mission of Icelandic airspace, the defence ministry’s spokesman Petr Medek told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. He said the army is set to reveal the details at a press conference on Friday. The Czech air force took its turn protecting Icleand’s airspace last autumn over the course of nine weeks. Iceland is the only NATO member state with no air force of its own. The head of an airbase in Čáslav, Petr Hromek, told the daily Lidové Noviny on Thursday that the mission should take place in July and August this year.
President Zeman has signed an amendment to the energy law, the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said on Thursday. The new energy law, among other things, cushions the burden on industrial users of supporting renewable power. It has drawn criticism mainly from the national energy regulator, ERÚ, which has warned that that it could spark a massive new drain on public and state resources adding up to 150 billion crowns. The new energy law also enables households to install rooftop photovoltaic power stations with up to 10 kilowatt output without obtaining a license.
The Army is set Thursday, to start clearing the wreckage of a Hungarian Gripen fighter jet which crashed at an air base in Čáslav in Central Bohemia on Tuesday. The accident happened during an international Gripen training exercise named Lion Effort. The plane’s two pilots managed to eject and were unhurt when the aircraft came to a stop in a field near a runway at the base. The cause of the crash is being investigated by Czech and Hungarian experts. The wreckage will be stored in guarded premises at the air base.
The duo Marta Jandová and Václav Noid Bárta, representing the Czech Republic at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, have little chance of winning. Bookmakers see the Czechs, along with representatives of San Marino and Portugal, as the least probable winners, putting their odds at 1 to 970. The Czech duo is representing the country with a song called Hope Never Dies. According to bookmakers, Sweden’s Mans Zelmerlow is the most likely winner. Russia’s Polina Gagarina is listed as second favourite.
A Czechoslovak refugee from World War II has willed all his assets to the US Department of Treasury, the Seattle Times daily wrote this week. A Seattle-based couple, Joan and Peter Petrasek, willed their entire estate of over 850,000 USD to “the United States of America”. Peter Petrasek was born in Prague in 1927, and fled Czechoslovakia in 1949 for political reasons. He died in 2012 at the age of 85. Although the will had no more specifics, the daily suggests Mr Petrasek made the move out of gratefulness to his adopted country.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Thursday voiced support for the establishment of strategic industrial zone in the former helicopter base in Bochoř, near Přerov. With an area exceeding 300 hectares, it would be one of the largest industrial zones in central Europe. According to the governor of the Olomouc region, Jiří Rozbořil, it could bring between five to seven thousand new jobs. The main condition for establishing the zone is the completion of the missing stretches of the D1 motorway.
The opposition TOP 09, Civic Democrats and Dawn Party want to propose a no-confidence vote in Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s government. They made the announcement on Thursday at a press conference in the lower house. The move comes in reaction to Wednesday’s vote over the support of biofuels. Despite its previous declarations, the ANO Party did not vote to end a tax advantage for biofuels. The deputy head of TOP 09, Miroslav Kalousek, has accused the government of corruption, saying that Mr. Babiš’s company Agrofert would use the scheme to tunnel the state budget.