News Jiří Dienstbier seeks to ease European concerns over civil service law
Minister for human rights, equal rights and legislation Jiří Dienstbier is due in Brussels Monday to try and win European Commission support for Czech proposals on a new civil service law. The Commission has said that billions of crowns in EU funding depends on whether the Czech Republic implements an acceptable framework for an independent and professional civil service. It is the last country in the EU to have put such a framework in place. The government has put its proposal to parliament with most of the provisions set to take effect from 2016. However, the Commission is said to be concerned that some of the measures will not be in force until a year later in 2017. Amongst others, Dienstbier is due to meet Social Affairs Laslo Andor with an overall agreement on how to use social and investment funds up till 2020 one of the issues.
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ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš has accused the other two parties in the Czech government, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, of breaching the coalition agreement, Czech Television reported. Mr. Babiš says ANO’s coalition partners have repeatedly voted together to defeat his party on the division of next year’s budget. He said the minister of finance had never previously been outvoted on such matters. Social Democrat Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka called on Mr. Babiš to discuss the budget patiently with his ministerial colleagues.
The Czech crowns jewels have been put back in their vault at Prague Castle’s St. Vitus Cathedral. The valuable collection, including the Crown of St. Wenceslas, had been on display for two weeks at an exhibition marking the 700th anniversary of Bohemian king and Holy Roman emperor Charles IV. Once the crown jewels had been returned on Tuesday evening their vault was ceremonially locked by seven key holders, including President Miloš Zeman, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka. They will not be put on public display until after the inauguration of the next president in 2018.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka will head a high-level Czech delegation to China in two weeks’ time, the Office of the Government announced on Tuesday. The aim of the visit is to boost cooperation in air transport, health care and the financial sector, officials said. The minister of labour and social affairs, Michaela Marksová, the minister of transport, Dan Ťok, and the minister of health, Svatopluk Němeček, and the minister of industry and trade, Jan Mládek, will join the Mr. Sobotka on the trip between June 16 and June 20. The Czech PM will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang, during the visit.
The Czech Republic’s footballers are preparing to take on Russia in their second-last warm-up game for the European Championship on Wednesday. Coach Pavel Vrba is expected to again field captain Tomáš Rosický, who on Friday made his first appearance for the national team after a prolonged absence through injury. Other players, such as full-back Michal Kadlec, are also available for selection after arriving at the Austrian training camp late due to club commitments. The Czechs will then face South Korea before playing Spain in their first game at Euro 2016 on June 13.
A court of appeal has reduced Marek Dalík’s sentence for demanding a large bribe for a defence contract. The former lobbyist, who was a close associate of Mirek Topolánek’s when the latter was prime minister in the second half of the last decade, will now serve four rather than five years. He has also been ordered a CZK 4 million fine. Mr. Dalík sought a bribe of half a billion crowns in connection with a contract for armoured vehicles for the Czech Army.
Evidence has emerged that the commercial television station Prima ordered journalists to report negatively on the migrant crisis, iDnes.cz reported. The news website HlídacíPes.org on Tuesday posted an audio recording of a meeting at Prima where reporters were told that the station’s management regarded refugees as a threat; if they refused to accept this line, they ought to find new jobs. Prior to the posting of the recording, Prima representatives had referred to the allegations as “speculation”.
A team led by Dr. Eva Syková, who is a senator for the Social Democrats, took payments from patients undergoing treatment for ALS at a Prague hospital even though it should have been free, according to a Czech Television report. The head of the Academy of Sciences has called for Dr. Syková to be removed as head of the Academy’s Institute of Experimental Medicine. Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek says she should also be dismissed from the government’s Section for Science, Research and Innovation in connection with the payments.
A court in Brno has begun hearing testimony in the case of Kevin Dahlgren, who was extradited from his native US to face charges of murdering four relatives of his in the Moravian capital. Witnesses told the court on Tuesday that they were unaware of any conflict between Dahlgren and the family, whom he was visiting at the time. The state prosecutor said the American had stabbed his aunt, her husband and their two sons to death due to emotional instability, narcissism and heightened aggression. Immediately after the alleged killings in 2013 Dahlgren fled to the US.
The Czech Republic has the highest percentage of young cannabis users in Europe, according to the latest annual report from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Dependency. Its survey found that over a fifth of Czechs aged 15 to 34 had used marijuana or hashish at least once in the previous year. Forty-two percent of Czechs aged 15 and 16 had some experience of those drugs, the survey found.
US singer-songwriter Paul Simon is set to perform at Prague’s O2 Arena on November 17, the concert’s organisers announced on Tuesday. The 1960s star will present his new LP Stranger to Stranger at the show, which will open a European tour and will be represent his first appearance in the Czech capital since 1991.