News President Zeman attends first day of new school year at Lany primary school
President Miloš Zeman attended the first day of the new school year at the Charlotte Garrigue Masaryk Primary School in Lány on Monday. He wished first graders well and briefly recalled his own school years when he was forced to sit with his hands behind his back and was forced to write with his right hand, although he was left-handed. He emphasized the Jan Amos Comenius legacy that the learning process should be based on play and entertainment and told the class of first graders they were fortunate to be living and going to school in a free country. This year schools admitted 115,000 first-graders, 4,000 more than last year.
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The Czech Republic will aim to cut the number of those threatened by poverty and social exclusion by 100,000 by 2020, prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced on Friday. The Czech prime minister was speaking at a conference on European conference on social exclusion in Prague. The Czech Republic initially had a target to take 30,000 from the ranks of those faced by poverty and exclusion. Falling unemployment and strong growth have allowed that goal to be widened. Sobotka warned though that the EU 28 as a whole appeared to be on track to missing its target of cutting by 20 million the number of poor and socially excluded amid continuing high unemployment following the recent economic crisis.
Chinese investment group CEFC will buy a 60 percent majority stake in the Slavia Prague football club, the daily Neovlivni reported Friday. It cited former Czech minister and current head of the Czech-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Jaroslav Tvrdík, who mediated the deal. When the deal goes through, the head of the Czech transport company Travel Service, Jiří Šimán, will be left with the remaining 40 percent stake in the famous Czech club which has recently gone many ownershiop upheavals.
Czech president Miloš Zeman is meeting Friday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on his onging trip to China. The Czech head of state let slip to Chinese journalists that he had invited Xi Jinping to visit Prague next year and that the invitation had been accepted. He would be the first Chinese present to visit to the Czech Republic. Zeman recalled that his first visit to China last year had resulted in a series of breakthrough commercial deals. These have included a deal under which Bank of China will open its first branch in the Czech Republic and the launch of direct flights between Beijing and Prague which are due to start on September 23. The Czech president was accompanied on his Chines trip by former Czech and Juventus footballer, Pavel Nedvěd. The former European Footballer of the Year has ambitions to open a football school in China.
Prime ministers of the Visegrad four countries are attending an extraordinary meeting in Prague on Friday. The government heads of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary will try to coordinate their position on the escalating migrant crisis. On top of the agenda will be the current situation in Hungary, where thousands of refugees are stranded at Budapest train station. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said prior to the meeting that he will call on his counterparts to support the establishment of more detention centres along the outer border of the Schengen area and he will push for a stricter intervention against people smugglers.
In football, substitute Milan Škoda was the hero for the Czech national team with two goals in the last 16 minutes to turn around their European Championship qualifier against Kazakhstan on Thursday night. The Czechs went down at home in the 21st minute with a headed goal from Yuri Logvinenko. A weakened Czech team, missing many key players from injury, looked slow and without many idea up front although David Limberský hit the crossbar in the first half. Slavia attacker Škoda was brought on for the second half. The Czechs can now qualify for the finals in France with a win against Latvia on Sunday.
This year’s summer holidays were one of the hottest and sunniest on record, according to the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute. The average temperature recorded for July was 20 degrees Celsius, which is 3.2 degrees more than the long-term average. The average temperature in August reached 21.2 degrees Celsius, 4.5 more than the long-term values. According to the institute’s spokesman, this year’s August was very probably the warmest in the history of measurements. The summer months were also exceptionally dry, with precipitation in July reaching 40 percent of the long-term average.
The capacity of asylum facilities in the Czech Republic is currently 90 percent full, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said at a press conference on Thursday. He also said that the Czech Republic is at the moment able to master the migrant crisis. The minister said he planned to visit some of the reception centres to find out more about the situation there. At the moment, the Czech Republic has three asylum facilities, in Zastávka near Brno, in Bělá pod Bezdězem, central Bohemia, and Vyšní Lhoty in north Moravia, with a total capacity of 1100 places. The Interior Ministry previously announced that it would like to increase the total capacity to 1400 places.
One third of Czechs would vote for Miloš Zeman if he stands in the 2018 presidential elections, according to a poll carried out by ppm factum agency in August. The Czech head of state was elected two years ago in the second round of elections with 32 percent of the vote; the poll suggests he would currently get 33 percent of the vote. When asked about the likely candidates for the next presidential elections, president Zeman was mentioned by 10 percent of respondents, followed by the current Finance Minister Andrej Babiš with seven percent and former Prime Minister Jan Fisher with six percent. Among the other names mentioned were Zeman’s previous election rivals Karel Schwarzenberg and Dawn Party leader Tomio Okamura.
Police have charged two people who threw eggs at President Miloš Zeman at a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution last November, police spokesman Tomáš Hulan said on Thursday. The incident at Prague’s Albertov was previously treated as a misdemeanour, which could have been punished with a fine, but the state prosecutor ordered the police to investigate it as disorderly conduct. If found guilty, the offenders could face up to two years in prison. The head of state had angered critics by some of his comments in support of Russia and his use of offensive language on state radio.
The Czech Police Presidium will set rules on how to identify migrants arriving in the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Interior announced on Thursday. The announcement came in reaction to foreign media and Jewish organisations criticising Czech police officers for writing numbers on the hands of 214 migrants at Břeclav railway station on Monday night. In its report on Wednesday, the BBC noted that the ink marks carried an unfortunate visual resemblance to the Holocaust. The Interior Ministry said that it was not a standard procedure, adding that the officers were under pressure of time and tried to keep family members together.