News EU sanctions against Russia cause rift in Czech governing coalition
The new wave of EU sanctions against Russia for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis, has caused a rift in the Czech ruling coalition. Attending the EU talks in Brussels, the Czech prime minister made it clear that he did not believe sanctions would prove effective and said his country reserved the right to reject tightened sanctions if they were to cause disproportionately high economic losses. He promptly came under fire from the leader of the coalition Christian Democrats who compared this stand to the Munich Agreement of 1938. The prime minister has now received backing from Andrej Babiš, the leader of the second strongest party in the ruling coalition, who said he too could see little point in enforcing new sanctions against Russia when the last ones had failed to have any effect. He said the way forward appeared to be through political negotiations and noted that the Czech Republic could show its solidarity with Ukraine by more practical means such as sending aid or dispatching a field hospital there. The cabinet is to debate the issue at its session on Wednesday.
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The Czech Senate on Thursday hosted a gathering against anti-Semitism to raise awareness of the anti-Jewish moods generated by the recent conflicts in Gaza. Head of the Jewish Museum in Prague, Leo Pavlát, warned against media manipulation in covering the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. The participants of the gathering, initiated by Senator Daniela Filipiová of the Civic Democratic Party, called on the president Miloš Zeman and the Czech government to send a clear message that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated.
The car manufacturer Škoda will resume its production in Russia on Monday, the daily Lidové noviny writes on Thursday. The car manufacturer suspended production in two of its plants, in Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod, on the 8th of September. Despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, which has had a negative impact on the automotive industry in Russia, Škoda’s share in the Russian market in July increased from 3.1 to 4.2 percent on an annual basis.
Czech Minister of Agriculture Marian Jurečka is meeting with representatives of large supermarket chains on Thursday to discuss the issue of food waste as well as ways of supporting Czech producers. The ministry plans to launch a campaign to promote domestic production in mid-October, aimed at reducing the impact of the Russian embargo on EU food exports.
The first opera by Antonín Dvořák, Alfred, was performed for the first time ever with the original German libretto on Wednesday night at the Dvořák’s Prague festival, which is currently underway in the Czech capital. The Czech composer wrote the opera in 1870 at the age of 29. The piece was already performed once before, in 1938, with the libretto translated into Czech.
The Czech movie Fair Play has been chosen as the Czech Republic’s official entry for the 2015 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Written and directed by Andrea Sedláčková, Fair Play explores doping in sport in the 1980s communist Czechoslovakia.
Representatives of the government, trade unions and employers on Wednesday agreed on the draft state budget for 2015. Under the proposal, the state budget deficit for next year should not exceed 100 billion crowns and will include hikes in salaries in the public sector. Speaking after the meeting of the tripartite, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka expressed his confidence that the budget proposal will be approved by the cabinet on Monday.
The first shipment of Czech military aid to Kurdish forces fighting against Islamic State radicals in northern Iraq was sent from the military airport in Pardubice on Thursday. The C-17 Globemaster transport plane carried around 25 tonnes of ammunition worth 41 million crowns, including millions of rounds of ammunition for Kalashnikov assault rifles and machine guns, as well as hand grenades and ammunition for anti-tank rocket launchers.
The Czech Republic is to release three million crowns to the NGO Doctors without Borders to help fight the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka discussed the situation in Africa and the possibilities of Czech help with the head of the Czech branch of Doctors without Borders Pavel Gruber on Thursday, along with several members of the government. The Czech Republic has also pledged to send material support, such as protective equipment. Final details will be specified by the interior and health ministers by the end of September.
The Czech authorities are planning a major clampdown on fraudulent taxi drivers in order to curb the wide-spread practice of resetting taximeters, the news website ihned.cz reported. The authorities believe that resetting taximeters allows taxi drivers to only tax part of their earnings. The campaign by inspectors from the Czech Trade Inspection Authority, the tax and customs administration as well as from city- and town halls, planned for October, should make sure taxi drivers are complying with new legislation that is to ban such taximeters as of January.
Czech champions Sparta Prague are preparing to face Napoli in the Italian city on Thursday, in their first group stage game of the Europa League. Sparta hope to end their nine-game winless streak in European competitions; manager Vítězslav Lavička said responsible defence was key to success but promised his side would do their best to cause the hosts problems. Sparta will also play Slovan Bratislava and Young Boys Bern in the group stage.