News Press: Sobotka may meet Obama after Havel memorial event in Washington
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, may meet US President Barack Obama later this year, Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday. Mr. Sobotka could speak to Mr. Obama at an event in Washington celebrating the legacy of Václav Havel, the newspaper said. A bust of the late president is to be unveiled at Congress in November in connection with the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which Mr. Havel led. The US vice president, Joe Biden, will receive Mr. Sobotka after the ceremony, with Mr. Obama also due to join the meeting, Lidové noviny said, quoting its own sources.
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The disappearing foam spray used in football’s World Cup in Brazil will also make its debut in Czech first and second division matches from September. The head of the Czech referee’s committee, Dagmar Damková, confirmed the news to Czech Television on Friday. She said deliveries of the foam spray to make sure players keep the required distance during free kicks were being awaited from Argentina. Damková has been lobby for the innovation for the past six years. English, Italian, and Spanish leagues will also now be using the foam spray.
The state budget was in credit to the tune of 4.5 billion crowns at the end of July compared with the 1.5 billion crowns in the black recorded at the end of June, the Ministry of Finance announce on Friday. The figures are a reflection of the recovery of the Czech economy and the higher revenues pouring into government coffers and lower spending on unemployment and social benefits. Even so, the monthly budget figures were still negative up to the end of May. Last year at the end of July the budget deficit was 27.6 billion crowns. The government has targeted a deficit ceiling of 112 billion crowns for 2014.
Czech government and opposition politicians have agreed to continue discussions about the shape of a new civil service law on Monday. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he was willing to talk about the modalities of the new law but not the principles. The government conceded Thursday and agreed to open up discussion with the main opposition parties TOP 09 and Civic Democrats about the changes they want to see in the proposed framework. Some of their main demands centre on the top official tasked with managing the new civil service. Prague is under heavy pressure from the European Commission to put in place a new law creating an independent and de-politicized civil service as the last EU country to have such a code. The lower house of parliament will convene again next Friday.
Minister of Culture Daniel Herman led a commemoration on Friday at the site of the World War Two Lety internment camp for Roma which was created in July 1942. Herman recalled that the labour and internment camp for the Roma population from Bohemia camp was run by Czech officials from the Protectorate police force and that their brutality was equal to anything carried out by the Germans. Most of those who died at the camp were children. Those who survived were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz death camp. Herman said he and minister for human rights Jiří Dienstbier were working on plans so that part of the site of the camp would no longer be a pig farm but a suitable commemorative site.
The Czech hospital at the centre of one of the worst murder cases in the country’s history does not have to pay compensation of 8.8 million crowns to the remaining family of one of the victims, a court ruled on Friday. The so-called heparin murderer Petr Zelenka worked at the hospital at Havlíčkův Brod and administered deadly doses of the anti blood clotting agent. He was convicted of murdering seven patients and trying to kill another 10 and given a life sentence. The victim’s family claimed the hospital should have reacted faster to the first suspicious cases.
Thursday’s death toll on Czech roads was the worst so far this year with seven people killed. The total death toll for July came to 68, one more than in June. Even so, last month was still an improvement on the 72 people who died on the roads in July 2013. In the first sixth months of this year 266 people died on Czech roads, 26 more than during the same period a year earlier.
Compensation of between 100,000 crowns and 150,000 is likely to be offered to women who were sterilized without their consent under a law being prepared by the minister for human rights, Jiří Dienstbier, the daily Lidový Noviny reported on Friday. The sterilizations, mostly of Roma women, took place from 1972 until 1991. Many of the woman signed forms consenting to the operations but said afterwards that they did not realize what was being proposed. The Czech Helsinki Committee estimates that around one thousand women could qualify for compensation. Some women in the past won court cases that they were wrongfully sterilized but were not awarded compensation.
New Czech laws tightening up the rules against child abuse entered into force on Friday. Two new amendments to the Criminal Code make it an offence to establish unlawful contact with minors and to participate in pornographic performances. The new offences have also been widened to cover legal entities, such as companies. Existing laws have also been bolstered, with, for example, a maximum two year prison sentence now in force for those found guilty of trying to temp children to meetings even if the encounter did not finally take place.
The Czech Republic temporarily closed its embassy in Libya on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry announced. The army’s general staff said the military had evacuated ten employees from the Czech diplomatic mission. The Czechs were joined by 11 employees from the Swiss embassy. All 21 arrived aboard a CASA C-295 M at the Prague-Kbely airport on Thursday night. The Foreign Ministry has recommended that Czechs do not travel to Libya under current circumstances. There has been increased fighting in Tripoli with the country facing the most serious upheaval since Muammar Gaddafi’s regime was toppled in 2011.
Three Czech teams faced opponents in the first leg of the Europa League’s third qualifying round on Thursday but largely fared poorly. Mladá Boleslav lost 4:1 to Lyon, while Romania’s Astra dominated over Liberec, winning 3:0. Viktorie Plzeň, who were losing to Romanian club Petrolul until extra-time managed to come back with substitute Kolář scoring late; the match finished 1:1.