News Church-government commission on changes to restitution legislation dissolved

26-03-2014 08:45 updated | Ian Willoughby

An expert commission to discuss possible changes to a church restitution law made up of representatives of coalition parties the Social Democrats and ANO and faith groups has ceased to exist. Church representatives suggested the dissolution of the commission after three months, the Social Democrats’ chief negotiator on church restitution, Alena Gajdůšková, said after its final meeting on Tuesday night. She said the churches were unwilling to accept a reduction in financial settlements or alterations linked to inflation. The faith groups have called on the government to hold discussions on a new model of cooperation between both sides. The Social Democrats are pushing to roll back elements of legislation passed by a previous, right-wing government returning and paying compensation for church property seized by the Communists.

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Czech ambassador summoned by Chinese authorities over Dalai Lama visit

20-10-2016 16:53 | Ian Willoughby

The Chinese authorities summoned the Czech ambassador to Beijing, Bedřich Kopecký, due to their “disquiet” over a visit to Prague by the Dalai Lama, reported. The meeting took place on 18 October, before the Tibetan spiritual leader was received by the Czech culture minister, Daniel Herman, the news website said. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed to the website that Mr. Kopecký had been summoned. The official told Beijing that it was a private visit by the Dalai Lama and the meeting with Mr. Herman was also a private matter. 

Chovanec: CR must be ready to combat disinformation

20-10-2016 15:05 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic must prepare to combat disinformation and hybrid threats, the country’s interior minister, Milan Chovanec, said on Thursday. Speaking at a NATO conference on the subject in Prague, Mr. Chovanec said the government needed to untangle the misleading information spread by “successful” disinformation websites. Speaking at the same conference, the chairman of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel highlighted the particular dangers of Russian and Islamic State disinformation. A new Czech centre focused on the fight against terrorism, hybrid threats and foreign propaganda is to be created in January. 

Governor: Central bank could maintain weak crown policy to 2018

20-10-2016 13:02 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech National Bank could under certain circumstances maintain its policy of keeping the crown weak until 2018, its governor Jiří Rusnok told the newspaper E15. Mr. Rusnok said, however, that the second quarter of next year was still the most likely date for ending the policy. It is, however, certain that it won’t be discontinued before then, he said. Since November 2013 the CNB has spent nearly CZK 600 billion on the currency markets keeping the crown at around 27 to the euro. 

Weather forecast

20-10-2016 12:52 | Ian Willoughby

We can expect rain and temperatures of around 11 degrees Celsius on Friday. Daytime highs should be similar at the weekend but some sunny spells are due. 

Government signs contract with GE for aviation engines plant

20-10-2016 12:27 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech government has signed an investment contract with the US company General Electric for a plant to develop, test and produce turboprop aircraft engines. The centre is expected to create around 500 jobs. The Czech News Agency said the deal was worth at least CZK 1.35 billion, considerably less than the CZK 9.5 billion previously reported. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka tweeted in connection with the contract that “cheap assembly was not the future!” for the Czech Republic. 

Zeman refuses to meet minister’s proposal to promote prisons head

20-10-2016 12:17 | Ian Willoughby

President Miloš Zeman is refusing to promote the head of the Czech prisons service, the Czech News Agency reported. The minister of justice, Robert Pelikán, has proposed that Petr Dohnal be made general major and the advance in rank was approved by the cabinet earlier this week. Mr. Pelikán’s suggestion that Mr. Dohnal’s deputy be promoted is also being ignored by the president. The news comes soon after the justice minister criticised a statement from Mr. Zeman and three other senior officials reassuring China that the Czech Republic’s position on Tibet was unchanged despite a Czech minister receiving the Dalai Lama. 

Sobotka: Sanctions on Russia should remain in place in current form

20-10-2016 11:52 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says European Union sanctions against Russia must remain in place in their current form unless progress is made in resolving the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. Speaking before flying to an EU summit in Brussels, Mr. Sobotka told the lower house’s Foreign Affairs Committee that he would not support a tightening of the sanctions against Moscow as he did not possess an analysis of the possible impact of additional measures. He said supporting the sanctions had not been easy for the Czech Republic as the decision had negative implications for the country’s economy. 

Russia says it wants suspected Russian hacker sent home

20-10-2016 10:14 | Daniela Lazarová

The Russian embassy in Prague has requested that the Russian national who was arrested in Prague this week on suspicion of involvement in recent political hacks in the United States be extradited to his homeland. Andrej Kolmakov, a spokesman for the embassy, said Russia would fight any extradition attempt to the United States. The man was detained by Czech police in cooperation with the FBI. According to ABC TV he is suspected of having orchestrated a massive hack on the Linkedin network in 2012. The man is currently in custody awaiting a court decision on his extradition to the US. 

Chinese ambassador met with president’s chief foreign affairs adviser in connection with Dalai Lama’s visit

20-10-2016 10:02 | Daniela Lazarová

The Chinese ambassador to the Czech Republic, Ma Keqing, is said to have requested a meeting with the head of the president’s foreign affairs office in connection with the Dalai Lama’s visit to the Czech Republic. Head of the office, Hyněk Kmoníček, told Czech Radio that he had met with the ambassador and assured her that the Tibetan spiritual leader’s presence in the country did not signal a change in the country’s foreign policy in relations with China. The country’s most senior officials, including the president and prime minister, later issued a joint statement to that effect, emphasizing the country’s interest in maintaining good relations with Beijing. The move evoked a storm of controversy with opposition politicians describing it as “shameful servility”. 

Senate voices reservations to conflict of interest bill

19-10-2016 19:36 | Daniela Lazarová

The Senate has returned a conflict of interest bill to the lower house with a proposal that it should come into force as of September 2017 rather than the beginning of the year. The proposed change is based on the argument that the authorities will need more time to prepare a register of income and property declarations. The bill, which caused friction in the ruling coalition, would prevent people with large stakes in companies from becoming ministers, while firms more than 10-percent owned by cabinet members would not be allowed to enter public tenders. It is widely seen as targeting ANO leader, billionaire businessman and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš whose powerful conglomerate Agrofert involves 200 companies as well as several media outlets. 


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