News Czech diplomatic mission in Libya temporarily closed due to fighting
The Czech Republic temporarily closed its embassy in Libya on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry announced. The army’s general staff said the military had evacuated ten employees from the Czech diplomatic mission. The Czechs were joined by 11 employees from the Swiss embassy. All 21 arrived aboard a CASA C-295 M at the Prague-Kbely airport on Thursday night. The Foreign Ministry has recommended that Czechs do not travel to Libya under current circumstances. There has been increased fighting in Tripoli with the country facing the most serious upheaval since Muammar Gaddafi’s regime was toppled in 2011.
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Austrian investigators say a massive avalanche which caught seventeen Czech skiers in the Austrian Alps on Saturday, killing five of them, was in all likelihood not anyone’s fault but broke away on its own. The skiers were in two groups when the avalanche hit. The Tirol police spokesman described the avalanche as several hundred metres wide; the tear point where the slab had broken away was reportedly a metre deep. The mountain service has warned that avalanche warnings are still in place in areas.
A Norwegian court has ordered the country’s child welfare services to return a nine-month-old baby to its Czech-Norwegian parents. The decision was confirmed by the spokesman for the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The baby, who is awaiting a kidney transplant, was taken from the parents a number of weeks ago on the grounds the parents had not sufficiently bonded with the infant. Czech lawyer Pavel Hasenkopf charged that detailed hospital records had played a key role in overturning the original decision (and what he described as “lies and manipulation” by the authorities). He added the family would release more information about the case in the coming days. The news of the baby’s return to its parents was welcomed by Czech Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová.
London football club Arsenal got back on winning form after four winless matches, taking all three points against Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday. The Gunners got goals from Özil and Oxlade-Chamberlain while goalkeeper Petr Čech made several key saves late in the match to retain the clean-sheet, his twelfth with Arsenal this season. The final score was 2:0. The result puts the Gunners within three points of league leaders Leicester. The two clubs face each other next weekend in a match which could go a long way in deciding who wins the title this year.
Czech exports reached a record 3.9 trillion crowns in 2015, according to the country's statistics office
Czech exports reached a record 3.9 trillion crowns in 2015, the Czech Statistics Office reported on Monday; the figure represents a rise of 7.2 percent from the previous year. A little over 83 percent of domestic exports were destined for the European Union. Exports to neighbouring Germany alone increased by 8.7 percent to almost 1.3 trillion crowns; Germany is the Czech Republic’s main trading partner. Czech exports to Slovakia and Great Britain also saw a rise in 2015 but to Russia fell by almost 31 percent.
The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic climbed in January to 6.4 percent from December’s 6.2 percent, the Labour Office announced on Monday. Just over 14,000 Czechs were added to the jobless total during the month giving a total of around 467,000 seeking work. The number of vacancies stands at around 108,000, the highest January total since 2008.
Around 200 taxi drivers protested on Prague’s main highway in the centre of the city early on Monday morning. Only one lane of the normally busy highway was left free for traffic. The protest was called by the Association of Taxi Concessionaries against what they describe as unfair completion from unlicensed taxi drivers using such services as Huber. They also want to highlight the stalled talks with Prague City Hall about higher permitted fares. Talks between licensed taxi drivers and town hall officials collapsed in November last year.
In tennis, the Czech Republic won a tight tie against Romania on Sunday 3:2 and are through to the semi-finals of the Fed Cup. Karolína Plíšková and Barbora Strýcová beat Andreea Mitu and Loana Olaru in the decisive doubles 6:2, 6:3. Earlier, Karolína Plíšková drew the tie level at 2:2 with a 6:4, 4:6, 6:3 win against Monica Niculescu. Petra Kvitová had earlier lost 4:6. 6:3, 3:6 against Romanian top player Simona Halep.
The Czech Republic paid a ransom of around 6 million US dollars for the release of two Czech woman held in Pakistan, the weekly Respekt reports in its latest edition, details of which were released Sunday. The sum far exceeds the ransom sum previously suspected, of around 2 million US dollars, the weekly added. Antonie Chrástecká and Hana Humpálová were released in March last year after two years of captivity. At the time of the release, interior minister Milan Chovanec, denied that any negotiations were held or ransom paid to the kidnappers, believed to be linked to Al-Qaeda. The report comes amid the fallout from the release of five Czechs held in Lebanon in return for a Lebanese citizen held in the Czech Republic.
The Czech National Bank is facing arbitration proceedings of up to 20 billion crowns, the business weekly Euro reports in its latest edition, the ČTK news agency reported on Sunday. The pending move relates to former paper industry giant ICEC-Holding which was given loans by the former bank IPB with part of its assets given as security. When the bank collapsed and was finally transferred to the Czech bank ČSOB in 2000 some of the ICEC assets went with it. The weekly reports that ICEC Holding and ČSOB have been battling over the claims for several years but now the state, specifically the central bank, which guaranteed the takeover of IPB, is set to be the target of an arbitration proceeding launched by ČSOB.
A group of around 20 masked men attacked a centre used to help immigrants in the Prague district of Žižkov on Saturday night. They threw Molotov cocktails at the building in which around two dozen people were inside. Police and firemen rushed to the scene. They have not been able to confirm a link between the attack and anti-immigrant and anti-Islam demonstrations held in Prague earlier in the day. The centre was established in a disused building by volunteers to collect clothes and other basic necessities and offer help to immigrants.