News Christian Democrats and TOP 09 form joint group within European People’s Party
The governing coalition Christian Democrats and the opposition TOP 09 have formed a joint Czech delegation as part of the European People’s Party group at the European Parliament. The group is headed by Luděk Niedermayer, a former vice governor of the Czech National Bank, who stood for TOP 09 in elections last month. It has seven members, four from TOP 09 and three from the Christian Democrats; this makes it the eighth biggest national delegation in the EPP, which is the largest party in the European Parliament.
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Firefighters got a fire which destroyed film sets at at Prague's Barrandov film studio under control at last at around 7 am on Saturday. The blaze, which broke out on Friday afternoon on a back lot of the studio, is estimated as having caused damage of around 100 million crowns. Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the fire.
A sushi restaurant in Prague may get a fine of up to 50 million crowns after it emerged that its employees were catching fish on the banks of the Vltava River to be used in the restaurant’s kitchen, the internet site novinky.cz reported on Friday. Sanitary norms do not allow this practice. The Veterinary Authority was alerted to the practice by locals and its inspectors found evidence to confirm the suspicion. The matter is being investigated.
The Czech premiere of the Czech-British coproduction Anthropoid which recreates the daring assassination of Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich by Czechoslovak parachutists in 1942 has been scheduled for September 28th, on Czech Statehood Day, the ctk news agency reported. The movie, directed by Sean Ellis and starring Jamie Dornan, Cillian Murphy and Toby Jones had its world premiere at the 51st Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in July of this year.
Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev is expected to pay an official visit to the Czech Republic on September 5-6, the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček announced on Friday. Following talks with President Zeman, the Bulgarian head of state is due to meet with Prime Minister Sobotka and the speakers of the lower and upper houses of Parliament. The main topics on the agenda will be European security and the migrant crisis. Ovčáček noted that in view of the fact that Bulgaria has a common border with Turkey the migrant crisis is a particularly sensitive issue in the country. Other topics on the agenda are mutual business and investment opportunities.
Civic Democratic Party Senator Veronika Vrecionová will file a complaint with the Constitutional Court over a law regulating the gaming business, which allows Finance Ministry employees to block web pages on suspicion that they are offering gaming online. The law was approved by the Senate in May of this year and signed by President Zeman in June. Senator Vrecionová, who has collected 21 signatures in the upper house in support of her complaint, says that rank-and-file ministry employees should not have the right to make such a decision and argues that the law opens the way to possible violations of freedom of speech.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a meeting of the Visegrad Four -the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia- in Warsaw on Friday. The government leaders discussed the future of Europe after Brexit, with security concerns at the forefront of attention. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban called for the establishment of a European Army suggesting that the matter could be debated at an upcoming EU summit in Bratislava in September. Chancellor Merkel, who is striving to open a broad debate on the future of the EU, said she did not expect any fundamental decisions at the Bratislava summit, saying the meeting should merely lay the ground for further negotiations.
The New Zealand authorities say they have found the body of a Czech man who was killed on a hiking track in a remote mountainous area on the country’s South Island. His partner Pavlina Pížová who was there with him managed to survive, spending two nights out in the open before finding shelter at a hut at Lake Mackenzie where she spent a month, stranded by bad weather, waiting to be rescued. The couple got lost in extreme winter weather conditions and had failed to inform anyone of their plans.
Former senior Communists such as one-time party general secretary Milouš Jakeš and prime minister Lubomír Štrougal are among 67 Czechs and Slovaks who have been charged over the deaths of five German citizens who were killed trying to cross the Iron Curtain from Czechoslovakia to the West, the ctk news agency reported. Charges were pressed by the Platform of European Memory and Conscience, a group that pushes for the punishment of perpetrators of communist-era crimes. According to the organization’s director Neela Winkelmann, it had decided to seek justice in Germany since only a few former rank-and file border guards had been convicted of killing people on the country’s borders in the Czech Republic. According to German lawyer Konrad Manz the said crimes were crimes against humanity that are not bound by a statute of limitations.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democratic Party has slammed his strongest coalition partner ANO for refusing to back the Social Democrats proposal to set a firm age ceiling on retirement in the Czech Republic. The proposal would allow both men and women to retire upon reaching the age of 65. ANO leader, Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has refused to back the proposal, describing it as a populist move ahead of the autumn regional and Senate elections. Mr. Sobotka said Babiš was betraying his election promises to voters, the coalition agreement and his own party’s election program. A debate on the issue is expected to continue with an alternative ceiling set at 67 years of age.
Chancellor Merkel could not realistically have expected to change the Czech Republic’s stand on the issue of migration, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in reaction to the coverage of Thursday’s visit by the German media. The German papers reported that Chancellor Merkel had failed to win over the Czechs on the issue of migration. The Czech prime minister, who on Thursday reiterated his government’s stand that a permanent redistribution mechanism for migrants was totally unacceptable, said the German head of government was familiar not only with the Czech Republic’s stand on the issue, but with that of the Visegrad Four states who are united in their opposition to mandatory migrant quotas. Sobotka said the goal of the visit was not to persuade the country to change its policy on migration, but to push ahead with a debate on the future of the EU after Brexit and discuss a number of bilateral projects.