News German MEP says Andrej Babiš faces conflicts of interest as minister
A German Christian Democrat politician has expressed fears that Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš represents such a danger of conflicts of interests that cooperation with Prague will be difficult. CDU member of the European Parliament and member of its budget control committee, Ingeborg Grassle, expressed her concerns during a press conference, adding that Babiš’ companies have been paid 2.6 million euros from EU funds. She added that the Czech Republic’s system for pumping EU funds laid them open to massive abuse. The head of the budget committee later said she was expressing a personal opinion. Concern have frequently been expressed that billionaire Babiš’ media, agricultural and chemical interests make it difficult for him to make objective decisions as finance minister.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
Over 10 tonnes of chemicals have been removed from private home at Nedvědice near Brno. Fire officers began carting off the chemicals on Friday following the death of the owner of the house, who had collected them over the years, and had expected they would total 3 tonnes. The chemicals could have been dangerous if they came into contact with other materials or even reacted with air or water. In view of the seriousness of the situation the local governor declared a state of emergency to allow for fire officers and chemists to remove and destroy the chemicals without delay.
The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, bears responsibility for the people of the United Kingdom voting to leave the European Union and should step down, the Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, said on Czech Television on Sunday. Mr. Zaorálek said Mr. Juncker was in his view not the right man for the job. The Czech foreign policy chief also said that talks between Brussels and London over managing the UK’s exit should be launched as quickly as possible.
President Miloš Zeman says the UK’s vote to quit the European Union is bad for both sides. Speaking on TV Prima, Mr. Zeman said Britons would have not backed Brexit if the EU were headed by forceful personalities, adding that he had hoped the union would be an equal partner in dialogue with China, Russia and the US, but that would not now happen. The head of state also said he believed that Scotland was now likely to quit Great Britain, which would further undermine the UK economically.
Hundreds of people attended a memorial on Sunday observing the 74th anniversary of the razing of the village of Ležáky by the Nazis and the murder of 52 of its citizens. Speaking at the ceremony, the chairman of the lower house of the Czech Parliament, Jan Hamáček, said Ležáky was an eternal reminder of the bad that people were capable of when they were guided by a hateful ideology. The village was burnt down on 24 June 1924, two weeks after a similar attack on Lidice. Both atrocities were part of reprisals for the assassination of Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich.
Fire officers in the Czech Republic were called out three times more often than usual on Saturday to deal with the affects of heavy storms that hit large parts of the country. The worst-affected areas were south and central Bohemia and the Plzeň and Liberec regions. While average call-outs for fire brigades number just under 300 a day, on Saturday there were over 1,000, a spokesperson said. They have mainly been removing fallen trees, pumping water out of underground spaces and clearing drains.
Veteran star Jaromír Jágr has crowned a successful season with victory in the Golden Hockey Stick poll of Czech ice hockey player of the year. The third most productive player in NHL history, who is 44, picked up the prize for the 12th time in a ceremony in Karlovy Vary on Saturday night. Jágr said that he had first been in the 10 best in the Golden Hockey Stick way back in 1990 and that it remained a huge honour for him.
US singer Iggy Pop headlined the first edition of the Metronome music festival in Prague on Saturday. The punk pioneer, who is now 69, performed a 90-minute featuring many of his best-known songs as well as tracks from his most recent album Post Pop Depression. The two-day Metronome is taking place in parallel to United Islands of Prague, a long-running free festival that is held at various venues in the Czech capital.
The Social Democrats have bought a CZK 5 million debt of lawyer Zdeněk Altner, with whom they are locked in a legal dispute, and launched distraint proceedings against him. A spokesperson for the party said this would improve their position with regard to Mr. Altner, to whom they have been ordered to pay a huge sum. Mr. Altner’s legal representative said the move would not impact the case between his client and the Social Democrats, while the lawyer himself described the move as base. Earlier this year the Social Democrats were ordered to pay Mr. Altner CZK 377 million in connection with his representation in a case surrounding the party’s headquarters.
The Czech tennis player Karolína Plíšková was beaten in the final of the UK’s Eastbourne tournament on Saturday by Dominika Cibulková of Slovakia. The 5-7 3-6 defeat denied Plíšková her second WTA title of the season and despite reaching the final at Eastbourne she is set to remain at 17th in the world rankings.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says Europe may pay an excessively high price for his UK counterpart David Cameron’s pledge to hold an EU referendum in order to unify his Conservative Party prior to elections. Speaking a day after the UK’s vote to leave sent shockwaves around the bloc, Mr. Sobotka said that would had happened was not the end of European integration – just the end of the UK in the EU. The Czech leader said the main thing now was agreeing co-existence with Great Britain under conditions advantageous to the Czech Republic; the priority is ensuring the maintenance of smooth exports and good conditions for Czechs working in the UK, he said.