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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Controls for the disease Ebola began at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport on Tuesday morning. Arriving passengers who have been in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone in the previous 42 days have to have their temperature taken and undergo an interview at an anti-epidemic centre installed at the airport. If any indications of Ebola are detected, they will be taken to an infections clinic at the capital’s Na Bulovka hospital.
The NHL club Buffalo Sabres will retire the no. 39 jersey worn by Czech goaltender Dominik Hašek on January 13, the night the club play the Detroit Red Wings, with whom Hašek won his two Stanley Cup championships. The goalie spent nine seasons with Buffalo before being traded to Detroit in 2001. Hašek won the Vezina trophy as the league’s best goaltender six times and the Hart Trophy as most valuable player twice while at Buffalo. He is being inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame on November 17 and will be the first Czech to receive the honour.
Thirty percent of children’s playgrounds and sports grounds tested every year by the Czech Trade Inspectorate are faulty in some way, the head of the Czech Consumer Association, Libor Dupal, said at a news conference on Tuesday. Mr. Dupal said the actual percentage of dangerous playgrounds could be higher, adding that the Trade Inspectorate had limited powers when it came to such checks. The consumers group presented a guidebook outlining how operators could fulfill European norms with regard to playground and sports ground safety.
A rare northern white rhinoceros owned by the zoo in Dvůr Králové, east Bohemia, has died of old age at a sanctuary in Kenya. A representative of the zoo said on Tuesday that there were no plans to end a breeding programme involving three other rhinos that it runs at the Ol Pejeta bush camp. The zoo launched the breeding project five years ago as part of efforts to preserve the subspecies. The rhino male that died on Friday at the age of 34 was one of only seven known to exist in the world.
President Miloš Zeman has again not invited university rectors with whom he has had disputes in the past to a ceremony on October 28 at which state honours will be presented. Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday that once again neither Mikuláš Bek of Brno’s Masaryk University nor Libor Grubhoffer from the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice had received the traditional invitation. Mr. Bek refused to allow Mr. Zeman to appear before students ahead of general elections, while Mr. Grubhoffer declined to attend a conferral ceremony after the president refused to name a professor, saying he had carried an inappropriate sign during a gay pride parade. Last year a number of university heads stayed away from the October 28 ceremony at Prague Castle in solidarity with the two.
Police pyrotechnics experts on Monday were able to guide a remote-control device to the epicenter of a munitions depot in Vrbětice, which was destroyed by an explosion last Thursday. Using a thermal camera, they learned that there are still smoldering fires in the area burning at up to 140 degrees Celsius. They also learned that no dangerous substances were being emitted into the air at the site.
Great Britain’s Sir Nicholas Winton will receive the Order of the White Lion in Prague on October 28th, in a special ceremony, the president’s spokesman revealed on Monday. Prague Castle decided to honour Mr Winton, who saved hundreds Jewish children from the Nazis in the kindertransports to Great Britain ahead of WW II, in a ceremony of his own, out of respect for his age. Sir Winton is 105. The aim, the spokesman made clear, was to make the ceremony as comfortable as possible. A separate ceremony will be held for the other recipients.
The government has approved foreign military missions for 2015 and 2016. According to the proposal agreed, personnel should continue to serve, for example, in Afghanistan, Mali or the Balkans. The government did not back a plan, supported by President Miloš Zeman, for Czech soldiers to serve in the United Nations mission in the Golan Heights.
German President Joachim Gauck, Hungarian President Janos Ader, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Slovak President Andrej Kiska, along with President Miloš Zeman, will mark the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, which led to the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, together at a special event in Prague. The plan was confirmed by the president's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček on Monday. A special ceremony is to be held at Prague's Charles University. The Czech president is also planning to invite those who took part in the demonstrations on November 17, 1989 that started at the university campus in Albertov and ended in a crackdown by the communist regime, Mr Ovčáček confirmed.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, confirmed on Monday that the Foreign Ministry had accounted for the whereabouts of 346 Czech nationals in Nepal; none of the Czechs are in danger. Last week, the Annapurna mountain range in Nepal was struck by deadly blizzards and avalanches in which at least 39 people died. Another 200 people had to be rescued in emergency operations.