News Ruling parties fail to agree on candidate for EU commissioner

15-07-2014 09:25 | Jan Velinger

Parties within the country’s centre-left coalition on Monday evening failed to find agreement on a nominee for the post of Czech EU commissioner. The three parties – the Social Democrats, TOP 09 and the Christian Democrats – have all pushed for their own nominees. The prime minister said that on Monday that former finance minister Pavel Mertlík and ANO’s Věra Jourová were the most discussed; negotiations on the matter are set to continue late Tuesday.

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Prague and National Geographic reach settlement

23-07-2014 11:37 | Jan Velinger

Prague and National Geographic have reached a written agreement putting to bed a case concerning a controversial episode of a TV series broadcast by the National Geographic Channel in 2012. The city maintained that the show Scam City, focusing on the darker side of tourism, had hurt Prague’s reputation, faking some sequences which consequently cast the city in a poor light. Criminal investigators later confirmed some scenes had been staged. Scenes that were reportedly faked included tourists being ripped off by a taxi service or by workers at a sex club (which in reality had long been closed). In the agreement, National Geographic admitted some scenes were staged and agreed to block the episode’s further dissemination. A formal apology, which the city previously sought, was not part of the deal, the Czech News Agency reported. 

Committee backs Jourová for commissioner

23-07-2014 10:46 | Jan Velinger

The Chamber of Deputies’ Committee for European Affairs on Wednesday backed Minister for Regional Affairs Věra Jourová’s nomination for EU commissioner. Out of 19 members on the board, coalition members from the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats voted in favor; members of the opposition abstained. Jourová’s candidacy is to be officially confirmed by the government on Thursday. Leaders of the coalition parties agreed on the candidate after it became apparent that the next president of the EC, Jean-Claude Juncker, favored having at least nine women on the commission. It is thought that a female candidate will have a better chance at gaining one of the more important portfolios. 

Report: 98 percent of Czech primary school teachers female

23-07-2014 10:11 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic has the highest percentage of female teachers in primary schools in Europe, according to a Eurostat report published by the Czech Statistics Office. Close to 98 percent of Czech teachers at primary level are women, the report found. However, the Czech Ministry of Education questions the figure of 2 percent male teachers, saying around 15 percent of teachers of first to ninth grade pupils are men. According to the Eurostat report, Denmark has the highest percentage of male teachers, with almost a third of educators in its primary schools being men. 

Sparta reach third qualifying round of Champions League

23-07-2014 10:03 | Ian Willoughby

Sparta Prague have qualified for the third qualifying round of the Champions League. After beating Levadia Tallinn 7:0 in Prague last week the Czech title holders fielded a side largely composed of reserves in the away leg on Tuesday evening, which ended in a 1:1 draw. Sparta will face either Sweden’s Malmo or the Latvian club Ventspils in the next round. That will be followed by a play-off round to decide spots in the group stage of the lucrative competition. 

Czech Airlines continues flights to Tel Aviv

23-07-2014 09:59 | Chris Johnstone

Czech Airlines said that its two flights linking Prague and Tel Aviv took off as normal on Tuesday night and were due to arrive in the early morning of Wednesday at each destination. The Czech airline said that it had consulted with security experts at home and in Israel before giving approving for the flights. Many airlines have cancelled flights to Tel Aviv because of the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip with the US Federal Aviation Agency imposing a 24-hour ban on flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. Many European airlines have suspended flights. Rockets fired from Gaza landed near the airport on Tuesday. 

Leopold König moves up to seventh place in Tour de France

23-07-2014 09:58 | Chris Johnstone

Czech cyclist Leopold König has moved up and is now placed seventh overall in the Tour de France after the 16th state of the race and trails sixth placed US competitor Tejay van Garderen by just six seconds. The 26-year-old Czech is trailing leader Vincenzo Nibali by just over nine and a half minutes. The cyclists face the second of the three part Pyrenees challenge on Wednesday in one of the shortest but most difficult stages. 

Czech exports to Ukraine down by almost a third

23-07-2014 09:57 | Chris Johnstone

Czech exports to Ukraine dropped by 43.1 percent in May compared to the same period a year earlier after a fall of 51.2 percent in April, according to the Czech Statistics Office. During the first five months of this year they have fallen by 3.7 billion crowns, or just short of 30 percent. According to business grouping the Confederation of Industry of the Czech Republic, Ukraine now risks being excluded from the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s list of 12 priority countries for exports, the confederation said. The list highlighted states where efforts would be made to boost Czech exports until 2020. The confederation warned that no improvement in business looked likely in the short term due to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. 

Conditional sentences delivered for wiretapping top state figures

23-07-2014 09:56 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech daily Mláda Fronta Dnes reported Wednesday how two men convicted of wiretapping top state figures received conditional sentences and the identity of those who ordered the spying was never revealed. Former policeman Marian Hudec received a conditional jail sentence of 26 months suspended for four years and Michal Kondla 20 months suspended for three years. The two were convicted tapping the phone calls of Constitutional Court chairman Pavel Rychetský and close aides to the then president Václav Klaus. The tapping took place ahead of parliamentary elections in 2010. The paper said it established links to the security firm ABL, owned by former Public Affairs party leader Vít Bárta. The company has denied any wrongdoing. 

Minister unveils bill that would make national parks more accessible to hikers

22-07-2014 17:30 | Ian Willoughby

A bill being prepared by the ministry of the environment is aimed at making Czech national parks more accessible to hikers, giving more powers to municipalities and simplifying regulations, Minister Richard Brabec said on Tuesday. He described the planned amendment to the law on the environment, the most extensive in two decades, as revolutionary. However, the proposed opening of zones of national parks that are now closed to the public could put represent a threat to wildlife, a representative of the Czech branch of Friends of the Earth said in response to Tuesday’s announcement. 

Man charged with death of homeless man “over 350 crowns”

22-07-2014 16:31 | Ian Willoughby

Police have charged a man with an attack on a homeless man in Prague that resulted in the latter’s death. The accused, who is 34, faces a charge of grievous bodily harm resulting in death in connection with the incident, which occurred near the Hradčanská tram stop in Prague 6 on Monday, and faces up to 16 years in jail if found guilty. The motive for the attack, in which the victim was beaten and kicked, was a debt of CZK 350, a police spokesperson said. 

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