News PM: Russia’s treatment of Ukraine unacceptable but no risk for Czech Republic at present

18-03-2014 18:31 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has described Russia’s actions in connection with Ukraine as unacceptable. In an interview for the Czech News Agency, Mr. Sobotka said he believed sanctions could be imposed on Russia but added that he was not currently in favour of them. The PM said he and the other members of the leadership of the state’s Security Council had considered possible risks stemming from the situation in Crimea and concluded that for now no special measures needed to be taken. Mr. Sobotka said the only positive step the Russians had taken was not advancing beyond Crimea further into southeastern and eastern Ukraine.

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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. 

Poll: Only one in four Czechs thinks EU decisions in state’s interest

03-05-2016 16:44 | Ian Willoughby

Only 26 percent of Czechs believe that the decisions of the European Union are in their country’s interests, suggests an opinion poll conducted by the CVVM agency. The same survey last year indicated that almost a third of Czechs shared that view. CVVM said the change was due to critical perceptions of the EU’s handling of the migrant crisis. Some 60 percent of respondents in the latest poll agreed that the EU defends democratic values and that EU integration is beneficial to the defence of the state and the environment. 

Mining company OKD files for bankruptcy

03-05-2016 15:14 | Ian Willoughby

The mining company OKD has filed for bankruptcy, a spokesperson announced after a board meeting on Tuesday. The Czech government had rejected appeals from the firm – which employs around 10,000 people – for financial support to help it close lossmaking mines and restructure its business. OKD’s mines in North Moravia are set to keep running. CEO Dale Ekmark said the company lacked the funds to carry on and blamed the situation on historically low coal prices. 

Old Prague pub Baráčnická rychta set for closure

03-05-2016 13:02 | Ian Willoughby

The traditional pub Baráčnická rychta in Prague’s Malá Strana district is set for closure at the end of June, E15 reported. The old society of baráčníks (cottage owners) to which the pub belongs failed to reach agreement on extending the contract of the current operator and instead made a deal to lease it to an upmarket Italian-owned hotel located next door, the newspaper said. A hall joined to the pub is a well-known venue for social events and concerts. 

Miners hold underground protest over future of OKD

03-05-2016 12:39 | Ian Willoughby

Miners at the Darkov mine in North Moravia held an underground protest on Tuesday when they refused to come to the surface following their night shift. The men said they were demanding to know the plans of mine owners OKD, which is threatened with insolvency. The miners emerged after an underground meeting with an OKD executive that the company described as a “working briefing”. The firm has around 10,000 workers in a region with relatively high unemployment. 

Police seeking to question MP Stupčuk over traffic accident

03-05-2016 12:03 | Ian Willoughby

The police have requested that the Chamber of Deputies lift the immunity of MP Štěpán Stupčuk so they can question him. The Czech News Agency reported that the investigation likely centred on a traffic accident in February involving the Social Democrat politician. Mr. Stupčuk confirmed to the newspaper Právo that he was facing charges of endangerment under the influence. The TV station Nova reported that the police had found him alone at the scene of an accident but that he had denied being the driver and refused to take a test for alcohol. 

Health sector salaries to grow by 10 percent from January

03-05-2016 11:53 | Ian Willoughby

Health sector workers in the Czech Republic are to receive a pay rise of 10 percent from January next year. The news was announced on Tuesday by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka following a meeting between representatives of the government, the regions, the Czech Medical Chamber and health workers’ trade unions. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said that an extra CZK 9 billion would be raised from employees’ health insurance in 2017, while his ministry would provide another CZK 2 billion toward salaries in the sector. 

Nuclear energy a significant opportunity in Czech-Iranian relations, foreign minister says

03-05-2016 09:05 | Jan Velinger

Cooperation between the Czech Republic and Iran in nuclear energy is an important opportunity for Czech-Iranian bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and Iranian Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi agreed at their meeting on Monday. Mr Zaorálek told reporters that Czechs can offer expert know-how to Tehran. Mr Salehi, who visited the Nuclear Research Institute in Řež near Prague before his meeting with Mr Zaorálek, also praised the work of Czech nuclear researchers. He referred to the agreement between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, from last July, in which Tehran pledged to limit its nuclear activities and make them more transparent in exchange for the of lifting of U.S. and EU sanctions. As a result of the agreement, relations between the Czech Republic and Iran have become dynamic, Mr Zaorálek said. 

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