News President appoints Vojtěch Šimíček as Constitutional Court judge
President Milos Zeman has appointed Vojtěch Šimíček as a Constitutional Court judge. Justice Šimíček, who previously served at the Supreme Administrative Court, was approved by the Senate at the end of last month. After Thursday’s ceremony Mr. Zeman praised him for brave and unorthodox decisions in the past, but the judge said he felt neither adjective applied to him.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
Greek authorities have detained two Syrian nationals with Czech passports, which they wanted to use on their way to Switzerland, the Greek radio station Athina984informed on Thursday. Two men aged 22 and 29 were apprehended by the police at Iraklia airport on the island of Crete. They have been accused of forging official documents.
If the mining company OKD, which has filed for insolvency, is not able to pay wages and severance payments to employees, the state will take over, the Minister for Industry and Trade, Jan Mládek, said on Thursday. According to Mr Mládek, the company will run out of cash already in June. OKD filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, after 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.
Betting company Fortuna said it business boomed in the first quarter of the year with the value of bets placed rising by around 26 percent to total around 250 million euros. But operating profit plummeted by around 37 percent to 4.6 million euros. Fortuna, majority owned by the Penta group, said one of the main factors was a steeper betting tax in the Czech Republic. The group operates in the Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Hungarian markets.
The Arnošt Lustig prize for 2015 will be awarded to the writer and scenarist Jiří Stránský, The prize is awarded to those contributing to the community through their courage, humanity, or spirit of justice. In past years winners have been bishop Václav Malý and presenter Kamila Moučková. The prize was created in 2011 in honour of the world famous Holocaust survivor and Czech writer who died that year.
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. The president later announced his veto, arguing that the changes would put a heavy financial burden on some local councils.
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. The Prague excahgne later said trading would be suspended Thursday. 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.
Representatives of the Visegrad Four countries meeting in Prague have condemned a European Commission proposal aimed at fine tuning its system for sharing out immigrants. The new proposal includes cash penalties on countries which fail to take their share of the overall quota. Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek said such a proposal dividing EU countries should not have been tabled. His Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto said the proposal was inadmissible and amounted to blackmail. Polish and Slovak ministers also criticized the proposal. The Visegrad ministers also attacked the Commission proposal to abolish Turkish visas, saying the country should not be given favourable treatment compared with others. Central European counties argue most immigrants don’t want to come to their states. The Commission says the latest proposed measures are about solidarity.
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 closer economic and diplomatic ties with the EU but not membership of the economic and political bloc.The Visegrad ministers repeated strong support for the partnership and a woillingness to deepen it further.
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.
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.