News Czechs want active role in debate on EU future, says Sobotka in Berlin
Speaking after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Thursday, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said his government wished to play an active role in the discussion on the future of Europe. Mr. Sobotka said European integration was in the interests of the Czech Republic as the country lay in the centre of the continent and worked closely with Eurozone states. For her part, Mrs. Merkel said she welcomed the pro-EU orientation of the new Czech government. Mr. Sobotka also held a meeting with the German president Joachim Gauck. On Friday the Czech leader is due to visit the HQ of Volkswagen, which owns the Czech-based Škoda Auto.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
Five men and five women are in the running for the Czech Sportsperson of the Year award. The finalists include the holder, tennis player Petra Kvitová, and three-time winner Martina Sáblíková, a speed skater. The other contenders are Zuzana Hejnová (hurdles), Jaromír Jágr (ice hockey), Ondřej Moravec (biathlon), Jiří Prskavec (water slalom), Gabriela Soukalová (biathlon), Ondřej Synek (rowing), Lucie Šafářová (tennis) and Zdeněk Štybar (cycling).
The Czech state is set to hand the chateau in Kroměříž in Moravia back to the Roman Catholic Church under restitution legislation. Under a deal signed on Tuesday, part of the property will be returned later this week while a broader agreement on handing the chateau back will be signed by the National Heritage Institute and the archbishop of Olomouc next year. The state is gradually returning assets valued at CZK 75 billion to church groups. More than CZK 60 billion in financial compensation will go to the churches over a 30-year period in lieu of properties not being handed back.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, supports a decision by Germany’s cabinet to provide military support in the fight against Islamic State militants in Syria. The Berlin government wants to send a force of 1,200 soldiers to the region. Speaking via his spokesman, Mr. Zeman said it was only a good thing if countries decided to fight Islamic State. Mr. Zeman called for joint international action against Islamic State in a speech to the UN General Assembly in September.
The singer Karel Gott returned to hospital on Sunday to continue treatment for cancer, a spokesperson said. On Saturday the 76-year-old appeared at the Czech Nightingale music awards, where he took the top prize for the 40th time. The tabloid Blesk reported that the veteran star was set to undergo a second course of chemotherapy for cancer of the lymph nodes. Mr. Gott has sold more than 50 million records, with his biggest success coming in German-speaking countries.
State officials would be required to make their CVs public under a new government anti-corruption strategy presented by the minister for human rights and legislation, Jiří Dienstbier, on Tuesday. The plan is aimed at increasing transparency in the state administration, the minister told reporters. Officials from the level of head of department up would be required to make their work and educational backgrounds public. Mr. Dienstbier said the cabinet would also work on other anti-corruption measures that had got stuck in the legislative process, including a registry of contracts and laws on political parties and public tenders.
Prague has begun plans for a provisional budget for 2016. Councillors rejected a planned budget due to instability caused by the recent collapse of the city government. The provisional budget will be agreed monthly and correspond to a 12th of the budget for this year. The city also began 2015 with a provisional budget. Talks are continuing between parties with seats on the council after a coalition of ANO, the Social Democrats and the Three Coalition split last month.
Viktoria Plzeň have entered the winter break in Czech soccer’s top flight as league leaders after beating Jablonec 1:0 on Monday night. That result meant they could not be overtaken by reigning champions Sparta Prague, who came from behind to overcome Brno 2:1. The top two still have one Europa League game each before Christmas; Sparta have already reached the next stage but Plzeň cannot advance in the competition.
The president of South Korea, Park Geun-Hye, is beginning a four-day visit to the Czech Republic on Tuesday. During her stay she will attend a joint summit with the Visegrad Four states as well as meeting the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, and president, Miloš Zeman. South Korean companies are expected to announce fresh investments in the Czech Republic totalling around CZK 1 billion in the course of Park Geun-Hye’s visit.
Police revealed on Monday that 51 people died in traffic accidents in the Czech Republic in the month of November, bringing the total number of road deaths over 11 months to 604. The number of people who lost their lives on Czech roads this year is higher by 28 compared to the first 11 months of 2014.
Heavy rainfall throughout Monday night led to a rise in water levels on parts of the Otava and Labe rivers. Flood warnings are in effect in Šumava. Levels are still rising in areas, nevertheless the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute expects the situation to improve over the course of Tuesday and for the risk of flooding to diminish.