News District of Prague 7 takes steps towards banning gambling venues
Councilors in the district of Prague 7 agreed on steps on Monday to ban gambling venues: primarily affected would be outlets with video gambling terminals. The move must still be approved by Prague City Hall. A spokesman confirmed that Prague 7 had long pursued policies to curb gambling and had opted for zero tolerance based on the results of a recent referendum. The referendum was not conclusive due to a low voter turnout but a majority voted in favour of a complete ban as opposed to partial restrictions.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
Czech President Miloš Zeman is considering using his veto to block the new school law, his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said, according to the news agency ČTK. Ovčáček did not give reasons for the president’s possible stance. President Zeman has in the past spoken out against greater steps at schools towards the inclusion of the minority groups and children with various disabilities but this is not covered in the proposed law. It calls for obligatory leaving exams to include mathematics and for all two year olds to be offered places in schools from 2020. The president later announced his veto, arguing that the changes would put a heavy financial burden on some local councils.
Trading in New World Resources, the company owning the mining company OKD, were suspended from trading on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The ČTK news agency reported that NWR is attempting to get trading suspended on the Prague and Warsaw exchanges as well. The Prague excahgne later said trading would be suspended Thursday. Shares in NWR lost around 20% of their value on the Prague exchange at opening on Wednesday where they were trading at 8 halers each.
Representatives of the Visegrad Four countries meeting in Prague have condemned a European Commission proposal aimed at fine tuning its system for sharing out immigrants. The new proposal includes cash penalties on countries which fail to take their share of the overall quota. Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek said such a proposal dividing EU countries should not have been tabled. His Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto said the proposal was inadmissible and amounted to blackmail. Polish and Slovak ministers also criticized the proposal. The Visegrad ministers also attacked the Commission proposal to abolish Turkish visas, saying the country should not be given favourable treatment compared with others. Central European counties argue most immigrants don’t want to come to their states. The Commission says the latest proposed measures are about solidarity.
Foreign Ministers from the Visegrad Four, currently headed by the Czech Republic, met with their counterparts from the so-called Eastern Partnership in Prague on Wednesday. The ČTK agency said the aim is to discuss the future evolution of the grouping composed of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. Some bilateral talks were already held on Tuesday. The meeting is also being attended by the European Commissioner for Enlargement Johannes Hahn and diplomats from Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands. The Eastern Partnership countries are being offered closer economic and diplomatic ties with the EU but not membership of the economic and political bloc.The Visegrad ministers repeated strong support for the partnership and a woillingness to deepen it further.
A court has ruled that the city of Plzeň does not have to pay a development company more than 1.85 billion crowns. The ruling was given Wednesday that compensation does not have to be offered to the company Amadeus whose plans for a large commercial centre in the city were rejected by a local referendum three years ago. The developer lodged a demand for compensation for the thwarted Corso America project in January 2015. It has a similar demand for compensation over a similar project with the city of Ostrava.
In ice hockey, the Czech squad departed for the world championship in Moscow and St. Petersburg on Wednesday. The championships begin on Friday. Czech coach Vladimír Vůjtek admitted at Prague airport that the squad is different from what he might have hoped for because some players were unavailable but that the Czechs were still capable of challenging for medals. The Czech team lost 3:0 to Canada in the last warm up game before the championships on Tuesday night.
A large number of lower house members of parliament surprising backed a motion to debate a Czech referendum on leaving the European Union on Tuesday, the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes reported Wednesday. It said 96 out of 169 members backed putting the issue on the agenda for debate this session. The move was even backed by some lawmakers from the governing Social Democrat and ANO parties, it reported.
The Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, leaders of the other two government coalition parties, Ministers for Industry and Trade, Labour and Social Affairs, and Justice met on Wednesday to discuss the situation surrounding the hard coal mining company OKD. The mining company, which employs around 12,000, on Tuesday filed for insolvency with debts of around 17 billion crowns. Sobotka said later the government wants to stabilize the situation around OKD and ensure operations can continue. One of the main issues now being focused on is who the court will name as insolvency manager. This could have a major influence on how the company is managed in the interim before its final fate is resolved. Minister of Justice Robert Pelikán told Czech Television on Tuesday that the government wanted some say in the naming of the insolvency manager.
Organisers say 10,000 people have already registered to take part in this year’s To Work By Bike drive, for which the closing date for registration is May 8. Last year nearly 7,000 people took part in the nationwide event, which is organised by the Auto*Mat civic group. Among those participating in the sixth edition has been the minister of transport, Dan Ťok, who on Tuesday cycled to work for the first time.
Among the winners of the Czech Journalism Prize for 2015 were Hospodářské noviny columnist Petr Honzejk, Martin Veselovský of online debate show DVTV and Magdalena Sodomková from Lidové noviny. Thirteen journalists received awards at Tuesday evening’s presentation ceremony in Prague. The Journalism Prize is bestowed by the Open Society Fund Prague. Jury members said a high number of the 360 pieces of journalism they had considered concerned the migrant crisis.