News Chamber of Deputies adjourns for summer, postponing civil service reform
The lower house of Czech parliament adjourned after a brief session on Friday until August 27. This means that contentious civil service reforms, being hotly debated by the coalition government and also the opposition TOP 09 and ODS parties will be postponed until MPs return from their summer vacation. Reforms to the civil service, designed to reduce political influence over bureaucratic institutions, were thrown into doubt this week by a controversial compromise measure, which would place oversight of bureaucrats in the hands of the Ministry of the Interior rather than an independent body.
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The Czech government says it has not registered any signs of German objections to the Višegrad Four summit due to be held in Prague next week. According to Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico Germany had voiced a protest against the fact that the Višegrad Four, comprising the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, as well as representatives of Macedonia and Bulgaria would be discussing plans to beef-up security at the Bulgarian and Macedonian border if Greece should fail to bring the flow of migrants under control. According to Der Spiegel these plans by the Višegrad Four undermine EU unity in the need to secure the EU’s outer borders and may lead to an open conflict with Chancellor Merkel. Czech government spokesman Martin Ayrer said the Višegrad summit would focus on the 25 th anniversary of the Višegrad Four and migration issues and rejected the idea that the alliance aimed to counter Germany’s proposals at the upcoming EU summit.
Finance Minister Andrej Babis’ ANO party has placed top in a public support poll conducted by the Median agency in January. The party received 24 percent support, followed closely by its coalition partner, the Social Democrats, with 23 percent support. The Communist Party placed third with 13 percent and the opposition TOP 09 and Civic Democrats tied at 9.5 percent. The Christian Democrats received a 7 percent support rating.
Police are investigating a chlorine leak at a swimming pool facility in a hotel in the Klinovec ski resort in the Ore Mountains on Friday. Twelve people were taken to hospital for treatment among them seven tourists from Denmark who were treated at a medical facility in Annaberg, Germany. Five Czechs received treatment in the Czech Republic.
Prominent Czech architect and designer Bořek Šípek has died at the age of 66. He succumbed to cancer. Šípek was known for his unusual, colorful and rich style and neo-baroque designs. He focused on product design for international manufacturers. At the request of the late president Václav Havel he was appointed Court architect at Prague Castle. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and can be found in permanent collections many museums worldwide.
Faouzi Jaber, the third terrorist suspect wanted by the US who remains in a Prague jail, allegedly filed for asylum in the Czech Republic. According to the daily Pravo this was the reason why Justice Minister Robert Pelikan could not decide on his fate together with the other two suspects who were freed. According to the paper, the Czech Interior Ministry has since rejected his application, and the minister is expected to make a decision on whether to extradite him to the US or free him in the coming days. According to his lawyer Jaber was afraid of extradition both to the US and Lebanon.
Eleven prisoners at a jail in Pardubice, east Bohemia who were rushed to hospital after overdosing on medication intended for heart arrhythmia reportedly used them in place of drugs. Two of the prisoners were in a grave condition and had to be resuscitated, but all are now out of danger. One remains hospitalized. The prison service has dismissed speculation that they attempted to commit suicide. The medication was prescribed for one of the inmates who suffers from heart arrhythmia.
A survey of 250 Czech companies revealed that a mere 13 percent of supervisory board members are women, the ctk news agency reports. In firms with a turnover higher than 100 million crowns the number of women on executive boards was 11.5 percent. Women were completely absent on the boards of two fifths of financial institutions. As regards gender equality at the workplace in 2014 the Czech Republic placed 96 th on a list of 142 countries.
A preliminary estimate of the fire that broke out at the National Museum in the early hours of Friday is 10 million crowns. The fire ravaged 200 square metres of the roof, but the historic halls of the building escaped significant damage. No one was hurt in the fire. An investigation is underway to ascertain its cause. The head of the National Museum Michal Lukeš says it was most likely linked to the extensive reconstruction work underway on the building.
The Czech crown jewels will go on display at Prague Castle in May as part of events marking the 700th anniversary of the birth of Czech king and Holy Roman emperor Charles IV, the head of Prague Castle administration David Šebek told the ctk news agency on Friday. The crown jewels will be put on display at Vladislav Hall from May 15 until May 29 and admission will be free of charge. The collection was last displayed in May 2013 to mark the election of Miloš Zeman president.
Czech singer David Koller has announced he will not be performing at venues at which the highly controversial Czech band Ortel makes and appearance. Ortel, whose hateful lyrics primarily target religious and ethnic minorities, is currently riding high on anti-immigrant sentiments. Last year, the largely unknown band from Plzeň jumped from 105th spot to fourth place in the Český Slavík competition. Koller, on the other hand, often takes a public stand against left and right extremism.