News Sobotka : Medium-term target for defence spending 1.4 percent of GDP
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says the government's medium-term target is to raise spending on defence to the equivalent of 1.4 percent of the country’s GDP. He said it was not aiming for the 2 percent encouraged by NATO, of which the Czech Republic is a member. Nevertheless, the country will reduce its military spending in 2015, Mr. Sobotka told reporters on Tuesday. On a recent visit to Prague the secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, called on the Czech Republic to boost defence spending.
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The 51st Karlovy Vary International Film Festival begins on Friday evening. Opening the festival is the highly-anticipated WWII drama Anthropoid about the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by Czech and Slovak parachutists in 1942. Jamie Dornan (of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ fame) is one of the stars in the production who will be attending. Other top stars attending the festival this year include Willem Dafoe and Jean Reno.
Czech president says he would not be against a referendum on EU membership but makes clear he would not vote to leave
Czech President Miloš Zeman has reiterated support for a bill on national referenda which was approved by the government last year. But he stirred emotions by suggesting on Friday that he would not be against Czechs even voting on whether to stay in the European Union - although he would vote to remain. Mr Zeman added that the Czech Republic received 200 billion crowns more from the EU than it gave back, stressing that “only a crazy person would give up so much money”. The head of state admitted it was “a cynical reason” but called it “a reason just the same”. Several months ago, the head of state spoke in the Chamber of Deputies recommending lawmakers pass the legislation; the bill needs three-fifths support in both chambers.
Government reacts to president’s words making clear it will not consider any referendum on EU membership
Government reacted to words earlier in the day by the country’s head of state, Miloš Zeman about not being against a referendum on EU membership, by saying it was not counting on any steps which would cast doubt on the Czech Republic’s membership in either the EU or NATO. The news was released by government spokesman Martin Ayrer; it stating that both the EU and NATO had been long-term foreign policy priorities and were guarantees of economic stability and security. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš also reacted to the president’s words, stressing that a departure from the EU would be disastrous for the country. The head of the Social Democrats’ deputies club Roman Sklenák confirmed that while the party was in favour of the referendum bill, holding a plebiscite on EU membership was, in his view, not a good idea. On June 23, Great Britain shocked the world by voting to leave the 28-member bloc, leaving many as yet unanswered questions over Great Britain’s future.
Former justice minister Pavel Blažek will head an investigative committee in the lower house looking into reorganization plans in the Czech police forces which were recently approved by the interior minister but led to a temporary standoff between the two senior parties in government and the resignation of Robert Šlachta, head of the special police unit for combatting organised crime. Mr Blažek received backing from 89 MPs of 163 present in a second round of voting. Former police officer Zdeněk Ondračka received 61 votes in the secret ballot.
Storms are expected across much of the country on Saturday with heavy rainfall, strong winds, and even hail in places, meteorologists have said. Temperatures in the regions of Zlín and southern Moravia could reach highs of 33 degrees Celsius.
An area of Prague’s picturesque Malostranské naměstí in the historic centre which served as a parking lot has changed status and will now be used for cultural events, Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová confirmed. The site is now to undergo renovation and repairs. The former parking lot is located around the corner from the lower house of Parliament and was reportedly used at times by MPs.
Lawmakers on Friday passed legislation in a final reading which will require owners to explain how their assets increased out of all proportion to their declared earnings, based on a difference of at least seven million crowns. The tax office will in future be able to levy strict fines in cases where owners were not able to explain the source of assets or were unwilling to cooperate. The bill passed by a wide margin; and it will now be sent to the upper chamber for debate.
State prosecutors have dropped legal proceedings against one of two Czechs suspected of having thrown eggs at Czech President Miloš Zeman during a 2014 ceremony marking 25 years since the fall of communism in Europe. The news was confirmed by the Czech News Agency on Friday. The second suspect is still under investigation. Two years ago, on the occasion of November 17th (which marks the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in 1989) Mr Zeman was jeered by hundreds of demonstrators who expressed protest over the head of state’s alleged close ties to Russia, fondness for alcohol and use of expletives in a now infamous interview for Czech Radio. There were calls for him to step down and his security detail used umbrellas to deflect eggs pelted by unknown assailants.
All members of the Czech Olympic team will undergo free tests for the Zika virus immediately after their return from Brazil, Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček announced on Thursday. The tests will be carried out by a laboratory at the Health Institute in Ostrava, north Moravia. The ministry has also issued recommendations for visitors to the Summer Olympic Games, which are to be held in Rio de Janeiro on from August 5 to August 21.
A Norwegian court on Thursday upheld its earlier decision regarding Czech mother Eva Michaláková to remove her parental rights for her two sons, Czech Television reported on Friday. However, the judge refused to let one of the sons be taken for adoption. The two children, who are now 10 and eight years old, were taken into care by Norwegian social services five years ago following suspicions of abuse. The case has become a major media and political issue in the Czech Republic with past interventions by head of state Miloš Zeman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other politicians. Mrs Michaláková, who is seeking to get her sons returned, can appeal the verdict.