News President slams human rights minister

23-06-2014 17:48 | Jan Richter

Czech President Miloš Zeman has criticized the human rights minister, Social Democrat Jiří Dienstbier over his refusal to lead his party’s ballot in the European elections. Mr Dienstbier’s decision hurt the party’s showing at the polls, according to the president’s spokesman who hinted the head of state considered the minister a coward. Jiří Dienstbier, who is one of the president’s most vocal critics in the ruling Social Democrat party, said Mr Zeman’s criticism was silly and unffair; the remarks were also rejected by Prime Minister, and Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka.

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Meteorologists issue heat warning for coming days

26-08-2016 09:44 | Daniela Lazarová

Meteorologists have issued a heat warning for the coming weekend when temperatures are expected to reach 35 degrees Celsius in places. The coming days are expected to be the longest hot stretch in the course of the entire summer with temps between 33 and 35 degrees. The heatwave should break on Monday. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the coming weekend is the last ahead of the new school year and thousands of people will be on the road, returning home from their holidays. 

Bohnice psychiatric hospital not to blame for releasing patient who committed murder shortly after

26-08-2016 09:43 | Daniela Lazarová

The Bohnice psychiatric Hospital did not commit an error in judgment when it released a patient who subsequently attacked and killed a stranger in a Prague shopping centre, Health Minister Svatopluk Nemecek told journalists in Prague, citing the outcome of an investigation by a commission of experts. The commission concluded that the staff responsible did not break the law, violate the hospital’s internal regulations, or disregard the recommendations of the Czech Association of Psychiatrists. The commission said the police was to blame for not relaying vital information relating to the case. The hospital was allegedly not informed that the said patient had attempted to strangle another woman in a coffee house a fortnight before she committed the murder. She was merely hospitalized for aggressive behavior. 

German Chancellor highlights common goals in Prague

25-08-2016 20:49 updated | Daniela Lazarová

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in Prague within her post Brexit European tour, on Thursday met with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to debate the migrant crisis, the future of the EU after Brexit, and bilateral cooperation in the field of science and research. On the divisive issue of migration, the chancellor said there were principal issues on which the two sides were in agreement, such as the need to enforce the protection of the EU’s outer borders and the need to address the primary cause of the migrant crisis. Prague remains opposed to the concept of mandatory quotas, but Prime Minister Sobotka stressed that the existing differences did not mean that the two sides were not prepared to communicate and address them.

On another hot international issue, the German chancellor and Czech Prime minister rejected calls for an end to the EU sanctions against Russia, advocated among others by Czech President Milos Zeman. Chancellor Merkel said the lifting of sanctions could only come with progress in fulfilling the Minsk agreement, which was clearly not happening. Prime Minister Sobotka said the conditions under which the sanctions could be modified or lifted had been made clear from the outset and until they had been met there was no point in debating the issue.

The German Chancellor later met with President Milos Zeman, a fierce opponent of migration, who strongly rejected the idea of mandatory quotas, arguing that since it was Germany which had issued an open invitation to millions of migrants the country should take responsibility for them and not foist them on others.

At the close of her visit the chancellor attended a dinner given in her honour at Prague’s Lichtenstein Palace. 

Security incident during German Chancellor’s visit

25-08-2016 18:50 | Daniela Lazarová

Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Prague was marked by a security incident in which an unknown driver tried to force his way into the motorcade carrying the German delegation, Czech Radio reported. A spokesman for the police presidium confirmed the incident, but said that due to fast action on the part of the police the chancellor’s safety was not threatened and the man was arrested before he could do any harm. 

Chancellor Merkel’s visit to Prague marked by protests

25-08-2016 15:25 | Daniela Lazarová

The German Chancellor’s visit to Prague is marked by street protests. Around two hundred demonstrators gathered outside the Office of the Government to watch her arrive on Thursday, blowing whistles and holding up slogans reading “Away with Merkel, Away with Islam” or “Merkel is killing Europe”. Some of the protesters exchanged verbal insults with the dozen or so Merkel supporters who also arrived on the scene. Police are out in force to maintain order. The chancellor, who was an extremely popular politician in Prague ahead of the migrant crisis, was led in through a back door so as to avoid coming into direct contact with the crowd. 

Senate in support of water retention measures in Šumava National Park

25-08-2016 15:10 | Daniela Lazarová

The Senate has come out in support of a petition by South Bohemian citizens who would like to see Parliament give legislative approval to interventions in the Šumava National Park which would improve water retention in the region. The locals claim Šumava forests are drying out as a result of increasing periods of drought and the present non-intervention policy in parts of the nature reserve is doing immense harm to the countryside. An amendment to the law on Nature protection, which deals with this issue, is currently being debated in the lower house. The Environment Ministry is pushing for close to half of the Šumava National Park to be declared a “non-intervention” zone. 

Ostrava court starts bankruptcy proceedings against Vitkovice Power Engineering

25-08-2016 13:57 | Daniela Lazarová

The regional court in Ostrava has started bankruptcy proceedings against the company Vitkovice Power Engineering. Creditors have two months in which to file claims. According to earlier reports the company owes close to two billion crowns to over 700 creditors. The company filed for “reorganization” bankruptcy last week in what many see as an attempt of the mother company Vitkovice to retain some control over the bankruptcy proceedings. 

Over 900 Czech sights to open within European Heritage Days

25-08-2016 12:41 | Daniela Lazarová

More than 900 heritage sights in 150 Czech towns and villages will open to the public free of charge within the European Heritage Days held September 3-11, the ctk news agency says.The European Heritage Days traditionally offer access to architectonic and archaeological sights, sacral buildings as well as museums, galleries, libraries in 48 European countries. In the Czech Republic, not only official cultural heritage sites, but also many private and public buildings, such as town halls, courts, church institutions, schools and residential houses, which are normally not accessible, will open their doors to the public in the course of that week. 

President Zeman says Czech Republic should call for end to EU sanctions against Russia

25-08-2016 12:38 | Daniela Lazarová

The Czech Republic should join the states that are proposing a withdrawal of EU sanctions against Russia, President Miloš Zeman said at the opening of an agricultural goods fair in České Budějovice. The president argued that the sanctions had benefitted no one and were damaging both Czech farmers and the Czech industry. The sanctions are a sign of helplessness on the part of the EU and if our politicians want to help the agricultural sector they should take a clear stand in support of the states that propose a withdrawal of the EU sanctions, Zeman said. He pointed out that the French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron and the German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had openly argued in favour of withdrawing the sanctions. The chairman of the Senate Milan Štech said he would address an appeal for the sanctions to be withdrawn to German Chancellor Merkel during her visit to Prague. 

Senate approves small alcohol tolerance limit for cyclists

25-08-2016 12:36 updated | Daniela Lazarová

The Senate has approved a proposed amendment to the law which would change the present zero alcohol tolerance for cyclists in the Czech Republic to a small amount of alcohol permitted. The proposal is based on the current norm in Austria which allows a blood alcohol level of up to 0.8 milliliters, the second most benevolent norm in Europe after Germany. This roughly corresponds to two or three beers or two glasses of wine. The proposed amendment was drafted on the grounds of a petition from close to 5,000 bikers. It will now be debated in the lower house. The Transport Ministry is vehemently opposed to the proposed change on the grounds that it would significantly decrease road safety. 

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