News MEP Zahradil calls for EU to take firmer approach to Russia over Crimea
Czech MEP Jan Zahradil has called for the European Union to take a firmer approach to Russia over its military incursion into the Ukrainian province of Crimea. Russia must face international sanctions over its actions, Mr. Zahradil, who heads the European Conservatives and Reformers group at the European Parliament, told the Czech News Agency on Friday. He said he disagreed with his former Civic Democrat party colleague Václav Klaus, who said that the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had acted rationally in the current crisis in Ukraine. However, Mr. Zahradil said he shared Mr. Klaus's fears that the EU could "abuse" the situation.
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The Czech Republic should consider following Slovakia in filing a lawsuit against the European Union over compulsory refugee quotas, the country’s minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, said on Friday. The ANO chief described the quota system as nonsensical and unworkable and said he would discuss the matter with cabinet colleagues. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who opposed the quotas but accepted an EU vote on the matter, said he could not understand Mr. Babiš’s change of view on the subject.
The number of reported crimes in the Czech Republic involving the theft of metals decreased by over half between March and November compared to the same period last year. Police recorded just over 8,000 such crimes in those months in 2014; this year the figure was slightly more than 3,400, according to the Ministry for the Environment. Officials said the fall was connected to an edict issued on March 1 barring the payment of cash for metals.
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 states 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 attempting to asset-strip 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.