News Karol Sidon to step down as chief Prague rabbi

23-06-2014 17:19 | Jan Richter

The chief rabbi of Prague, Karol Sidon, has announced he will resign as of July 1st, after 22 years in the post. The 71-year-old Sidon will retain his position as the chief rabbi of the Czech Republic. The head of the Prague Jewish Community, Jan Munk, said the rabbi’s age as well as the fact that another rabbi had well adapted to serving the community, were the main reasons behind Karol Sidon’s decision. Karol Sidon, who converted to Judaism in 1978, was an anti-communist dissident, and in the 1980s left Czechoslovakia for Germany under pressure from the communist secret police. He has written several novels and theatre plays; most recently, he authored a best-selling novel under the pseudonym of Chaim Cigan.

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Threat of almost 2 billion crown compensation by Plzeň rejected by court

04-05-2016 14:01 | Chris Johnstone

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. 

V4 countries meet with Eastern Partnership counterparts

04-05-2016 14:00 | Chris Johnstone

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 closed economic and diplomatic ties with the EU but not membership of the economic and political bloc. 

President mulls veto over schools law: report

04-05-2016 13:59 | Chris Johnstone

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. 

Czech ice hockey squad flies to Moscow for worlds

04-05-2016 12:06 | Chris Johnstone

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. 

Lower house backs putting CZExit referenda on agenda of lower house session

04-05-2016 12:05 | Chris Johnstone

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. 

Trading in NWR suspended on LSE

04-05-2016 12:04 | Chris Johnstone

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. 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. 

PM says aim is to stabilize situation around OKD mining company

04-05-2016 12:03 | Chris Johnstone

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. 

Ten thousand sign up for sixth To Work By Bike

04-05-2016 08:09 | Ian Willoughby

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. 

Honzejk, Veselovský and Sodomková among winners of Journalism Prize

04-05-2016 07:51 | Ian Willoughby

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. 

Sobotka: EU can only offer Turkey visa-free travel if it meets conditions

03-05-2016 17:35 updated | Ian Willoughby

The European Union can only offer Turkey visa liberalisation if it fulfils a number of conditions, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka said on Tuesday. The BBC reported that the European Commission was planning to offer visa-free travel for Turkish citizens inside the Schengen zone in exchange for Turkey taking back migrants who crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece. In a tweet Mr. Sobotka also said the Czech Republic opposed quotas and sanctions for failing to fulfil them. The Financial Times said on Tuesday that EU members would have to pay a EUR 250,000 charge for every asylum seeker that they rejected. The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek earlier said that he had told Johannes Hahn, the European commissioner for European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations, that Prague was concerned about the Commission’s plans for a new relocation mechanism for the distribution of migrants. 


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