News Klaus says he voted against joining EU
Former president Václav Klaus told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday that he had voted against the Czech Republic's EU accession in a referendum on joining held in 2003. The Czech Republic joined the EU on May 1, 2004. Mr Klaus is a well-known eurosceptic who hardened his view over the years, nevertheless there had been speculation about his vote. Klaus said after the first integration period during which the EU "tried to liberalise itself, it had strayed from its path and now it was heading towards unification and centralisation". Mr Klaus has suggested the upcoming 10th anniversary needed to be marked but not celebrated.
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The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has met his Chinese counterpart, Li Cheng, at the close of a week-long official visit to the world’s most populous state. Twelve memoranda and contracts on cooperation in healthcare, sport and other areas were signed in the presence of the two men at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday. Mr. Sobotka told reporters that cooperation between the two state was constantly evolving, particularly in the healthcare field.
An art group who protested against President Miloš Zeman by replacing the president’s flag at Prague Castle with a huge pair of red boxer shorts will not face punishment, Czech Television reported on Friday, quoting an official at the Prague Municipal Court. In a closed hearing earlier this week the court confirmed that members of the Ztohoven group should not stand trial. A district court had previously decided that they should not face punishment but the verdict was appealed by the state attorney.
Though the two states are incomparable in terms of size of economy and population, the Czech Republic is an important partner for China within the framework of the European Union, says the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka. Mr. Sobotka made the comment during a trip to the Hebei province on the final day of a week-long official visit to China. He said Czech agricultural equipment had been sent to Hebei in the 1950s and since then people there had followed events in the Czech Republic. Mr. Sobotka is heading a large delegation including three ministers and numerous Czech business people.
Czech crime boss Radovan Krejčíř has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by a court in Prague for asset-stripping the company Čepro and plotting the murder of a customs officer. Mr. Krejčíř is currently behind bars in South Africa after being found guilty of attempted murder and drug possession. He was previously found guilty in the Czech Republic of massive tax evasion and other crimes. The 47-year-old fled the country in 2005 after managing to escape during a police raid of his home.
Police in Prague have charged seven people in connection with overcharging tourists for taxi rides in the capital. Six of them are taxi drivers and the seventh is an official at City Hall suspected of taking bribes to leak information on planned checks, a spokesperson for the police said on Friday. The seven are facing charges of conspiracy to defraud. The police arrested the taxi drivers earlier this week. It was the first time they had taken such action in connection with overcharging.
The Prague council has voted to ban all gaming bars in the city. Some 212 such bars, which contain gambling machines, are to be closed down. Around 100 establishments designated casinos will be allowed to remain in place. The city will cease issuing or extending licenses for gaming bars from the start of January and they will all gradually go out of business. The original motion put forward by the mayor of Prague, Adriana Krnáčová, envisaged a reduction in the number of gaming bars allowed in the capital. However, councillors made sweeping changes to her proposal ahead of a vote on Thursday evening.
The Czech football club Sparta will continue in the Europa League in the spring, after defeating the Greek club Asteras Tripolis 1:0 in Prague on Thursday night. The same evening, Viktoria Pilsen lost a chance to advance after losing 2:1 to Dinamo Minsk. Liberec also lost – 2:1 – to the Portuguese team Bragga but still has a chance to advance: the team needs to win its final group stage match against Marseille.
Chinese investors are planning to build a huge spa complex in South Moravia, the region’s governor Michal Hašek, who is accompanying the Czech PM on his ongoing visit to China, said on Friday. The spa in the town of Pasohlávky is expected to cost about two billion crowns (around 80 million euros) and should create about 500 new jobs. The new complex is to be completed by the end of 2018.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka met for talks with the Chinese President Xi Jinping on his ongoing trip to China on Thursday. Mr Sobotka said that the Czech Republic, along with China and the EU, are currently facing serious threats, such as terrorism, which they have to fight together. He also said that Thursday’s meeting was a proof of the dynamic development of Czech-Chinese relations. Ahead of the meeting in the Chinese parliament, the Czech Prime Minister signed an agreement involving the Czech Republic in China’s News Silk Road Initiative, promoting trade between Europe and China.
Over 1,500 volunteers from the Czech Republic have been helping refugees abroad since early September, Zuzana Lenhartova from the group We Are Helping Fleeing People group told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. Groups of Czech volunteers have organised help at the border crossings through which the refugees are coming, providing them with food and clothing, Lenhartova said. Volunteers have been paying most of their trips from their own means. The People in Need aid organisation has recently set aside 1.25 million crowns for material help, the purchase of water, food and sanitary needs. The Foreign Ministry has earmarked another 1.2 million for the purpose.