News Defense minister: Ukraine crisis a threat to EU & NATO security

16-05-2014 13:48 | Jan Velinger

The current crisis in Ukraine represents a serious security risk for both the European Union and NATO, the Czech Defense Minister Martin Stopnický has said. Speaking at a meeting in Bratislava, he stressed it would be necessary to increase defense spending; he also made clear he strongly supported increased military cooperation by the Visegrad countries, backing a plan to form a joint combat unit of up to 4,000 soldiers by 2016. Earlier this week, the defense minister caused a major stir at home when he suggested NATO troops might be less than welcome on Czech soil, especially by those who still remembered the historic occupation of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops. Mr Stropnický came under fire from the opposition as well as members of the government and was forced to backtrack. He put forward a declaration in the lower house emphasising the Czech Republic’s commitment to NATO and common defense.

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Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s government survives no-confidence vote in Parliament

26-05-2015 22:34 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s government on Tuesday survived a no-confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament. Out of 184 lawmakers present only 47 supported the no-confidence motion,105 voted against and 32 abstained.

Opposition parties tabled the motion in protest against a bill approved last week which would extend state support for bio-fuel, which they claim serves the business interests of Finance Minister Andrej Babis. Mr. Babis said that he had not at any point abused his position in the government .During the debate in Parliament Prime Minister Sobotka accused the opposition of being hypocritical, saying that what offended them was not a conflict of interests as they claimed but the changes that were being affected by the centre-left administration. 

Prague ready to negotiate nuclear power issues with Vienna

26-05-2015 18:23 | Daniela Lazarová

Prague is ready to negotiate the planned extension of the Dukovany and Temelin nuclear power plants with Vienna, Czech Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mladek said on Tuesday in reaction to neighbouring Austria´s threat to sue the Czech Republic over the plan. Speaking at the European Nuclear Forum in Prague, the Czech industry minister said he would discuss the matter with his Austrian counterpart at a meeting in Český Krumlov, south Bohemia, on June 1. Austria has not ruled out filing a lawsuit against the Czech Republic at the European Court of Justice over the government’s plan to expand both of its nuclear power plants in the coming years. 

Prague Waterworks ready to compensate those who were taken ill after drinking contaminated tap water

26-05-2015 16:41 | Daniela Lazarová

The Prague Waterworks will pay compensation to all those who were taken sick after drinking water contaminated by coliform bacteria in Prague 6, an official for the waterworks announced on Tuesday following a meeting with the Prague City Council. The contamination of tap water in Prague’s Dejvice district has come under fire from its residents who say they were not warned in time about the danger. Close to 200 people were treated for diarrhoea, vomiting and fevers between Friday and Monday after drinking tap water. The Prague Waterworks says it will pay each resident who suffered health problems 5,000 crowns in compensation, on the basis of a doctor’s certificate, and those who were hospitalized an even higher sum. 

Food served in hospitals not up to nutrition standards

26-05-2015 16:06 | Daniela Lazarová

The food in Czech hospitals, maternity clinics and homes for senior citizens does not meet the required nutrition and health standards, according to the results of an inspection by the Hygiene Office. The results, presented by the health minister at a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday, show that food served to patients and the elderly is not nutritionally balanced, is deficient in fresh fruit and vegetables and contains too much salt. Inspectors also found a lack of variety in the menus. Inspections were made at 33 hospitals, 25 maternity clinics and 53 old peoples homes around the country. The minister said that the heads of these institutions would receive instructions on how to correct the problem and inspectors would remain vigilant. 

Court sends notorious fraudster to 11 years in jail

26-05-2015 14:55 | Daniela Lazarová

A Prague court has sent the notorious fraudster Vladimir Prokop to 11 years in jail for embezzling close to nine million crowns from the National Museum of Agriculture. Vladimír Prokop served as the museum’s chief economist for a number of years after applying under a false name and lying about his qualifications. Ironically, this happened at a time when he had escaped from jail where he was serving a sentence for the same crime. He had previously stolen 10 million crowns from the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, in many cases abusing large donations from sponsors. 

Czech president congratulates Polish president- elect Andrzej Duda

26-05-2015 13:30 | Daniela Lazarová

President Miloš Zeman has sent the winner of Poland’s presidential elections Andrzej Duda a congratulatory telegram. In it Mr. Zeman expresses the hope that he and the new Polish president will establish a good working relationship and contribute to further developing the strong ties between the two neighbour states. Conservative challenger Andrzej Duda won Poland's presidential election with 51.55 percent of the vote, against 48.45 percent for defeated incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski, according to final results published by the Polish state electoral committee on Monday. 

Marihuana and crystal methamphetamine top list of most commonly abused drugs

26-05-2015 12:12 | Daniela Lazarová

The police confiscated close to 600 kilograms of marihuana and over 50 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine in raids on illegal plantations and secret home labs in the course of last year, according to the annual report of the National Anti-Drug Office. The illegal drugs business is largely in the hands of foreign gangs, mainly Vietnamese, Albanian, Nigerian and Turkish nationals, the report says. Czechs are mostly involved in the home production of crystal methamphetamine. The number of secret marihuana plantations uncovered by the police rose to over 300 last year. Marihuana and crystal methamphetamine are the most commonly used illegal drugs in the Czech Republic. While marihuana grown in the Czech Republic is mainly for the home market, crystal methamphetamine is often smuggled to neighbouring Austria and Germany. 

Verdict expected in closely-watched case involving former prime minister

26-05-2015 10:50 | Daniela Lazarová

A verdict is expected on Friday in the closely watched case in which the former prime minister’s present wife Jana Nečasová is accused of abusing the country’s intelligence service. Jana Nečasová, formerly Nagyová, was romantically linked with the prime minister at the time of the scandal which brought down the centre-right government in 2013. She used the country’s intelligence service to spy on the prime minister’s then wife Radka for which she and several top-ranking intelligence officers face three to four years in jail. Tapes of wiretappings played played in court show the enormous influence Jana Nagyová, formerly chief-of-staff at the office of the government, had over the prime minister. 

Football: Legendary players from Euro ’96 reunite in exhibition match

26-05-2015 09:50 | Jan Velinger

Veteran members of the Czech national football team, who finished second in the European Championships at Wembley at Euro ’96, reunited in Prague on Monday to face fellow veterans from the German squad, who won the championship. The Czech team, featuring legends like Pavel Nedvěd, Patrik Berger, Karel Poborský, Pavel Kuka and others faced a squad led by Lothar Matthaus at Prague’s Eden Stadium. In ‘96 the Czechs lost 2:1 on a golden goal in extra time; on Monday the Czechs, under former national team coach Dušan Uhřín, dominated 6:3. Euro ’96 featured many unforgettable moments including Karel Poborský’s famous lob against Portugal goalkeeper Vítor Baía in the quarterfinal. 

Czech fighter jets may patrol airspace over Iceland in August

26-05-2015 09:20 | Jan Velinger

The Czech Republic is planning to send Gripen fighter jets to patrol airspace over Iceland for a month in August, a mission currently being conducted by Canadian pilots, Defence Minister Martin Stropnický told journalists on Monday. The mission is yet to be approved by the government, the minister added. NATO has requested the Czech Republic to deploy its Jas-39 Gripens in Iceland; Czech fighter pilots have done so before. Last October, five Gripen fighters left for Iceland. However, only four protected the Icelandic airspace and one plane was a reserve. Along with the pilots, more than 70 Czech soldiers took part in the mission. The Gripens returned to the Czech base on December 4. The Czech fighter pilots patrolled the skies over Iceland and its territorial waters within the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence. Iceland does not have its own military and the activities of Russian air forces allegedly intensified close to the Icelandic airspace. 

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