News Telička: Czechs failed to realize potential of EU membership
The Czech Republic gained much through EU membership, but failed to make the best use of the potential it offered, according to former EU commissioner Pavel Telička. In an interview for the ctk news agency in connection with the upcoming 10th anniversary of the country’s accession to the EU on May 1st, Mr. Telička said Czechs had benefitted from the free movement of people, labour and goods, but due to their own negative attitude had thrown away the chance to help mould important concepts and norms that would later apply across the EU. We were viewed as a troublemaker and thus often left out of informal talks, Mr. Telička said. The present centre-left government has vowed to bring the country back to the EU mainstream and take an active part in moulding the future of Europe.
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Russian journalist Alexander Kuranov, a Czech correspondent of the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, who has been denied accreditation in the Czech Republic, has written a letter to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, asking him to review his case. Mr Kuranov, who has lived in the Czech Republic for nearly 30 years, says he regards the country as his home and claims he has never written anything that would harm its interests. The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has refused to extend accreditation to Mr Kuranova and another Russian journalist, allegedly because they are considered a security risk to the country by the Czech counter-intelligence, BIS.
The tabloid Blesk remains the most-read Czech daily newspaper, with over one million readers in the last quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016, according to fresh data released by the publishers’ union on Thursday. The daily Mladá fronta Dnes came in second with 631,000 readers, followed by the daily Sport with 286,000 readers, which has overtaken the left-leaning daily Právo. The survey also found that 64 percent of people aged between 12 and 79 read at least one daily newspaper over a two-week period.
This year’s Tax Freedom Day in the Czech Republic falls on June 2nd, according to the Prague-based Liberal Institute, referring to estimates by the OECD. Tax Freedom Day is the day in the year when the average Czech has earned enough to pay his annual tax bill. This means that people’s entire earnings in the first 153 days of the year will be paid to the authorities, which is the lowest figure since 2000, while anything earned after that is theirs alone. This year, the Tax Freedom Day comes three days earlier than last year, and four days later than the OECD average.
The Minister of Interior Milan Chovanec wants to cancel joint patrols by soldiers and police by the end of the month. He made the announcement on Thursday during the ministry’s conference on terrorism. Following the terrorist attacks in Brussels at the end of March, the government deployed some 550 soldiers to join police patrols at airports, railway stations, selected embassies and other high-risk sites. The minister wants to keep joint patrols in the capital during the European conference on Interpol, which is taking place from May 18 to 20.
Czech children spend on average two hours a day in the outdoors, according to a survey carried out by the Median agency for the foundation Proměny. On weekdays, schoolchildren spend on average an hour and 41 minutes outside, while at the weekends, time spent outdoors increases to two hours and 49 minutes. According to the head of the Proměny foundation, Jitka Přerovská, there are big differences between children as regards their age and their parents’ educational background. Younger children between the age of seven and nine with university-educated parents tend to spend more time outdoors than others.
The Czech-Slovak investment group Penta on Thursday unveiled a massive development project in the centre of Prague, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, a British architectural design firm launched by the recently deceased world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid. The Central Business District should be built in the vicinity of Masaryk Station, where Penta acquired around 15000 square metres of land in January. The project includes eight administrative buildings with an area of over 90,000 square metres. The first building could be completed by the end of 2019, the spokesman for Penta, Ivo Mravinac has said.
The controversial Russian motorcycle gang the Night Wolves will take part in a two-hour ride through Prague on Saturday, according to the association Red Eyed Ceue, which organizes the event. The bikers are also planning to attend a ceremony at Prague’s Olšany cemetery honouring the victims of WWII. Some 80 members of the controversial gang are travelling through the Czech Republic on their annual ride from Moscow to Berlin to mark the end of WWII. The ride has been approved by Czech authorities.
Greek authorities have detained two Syrian nationals with Czech passports, which they wanted to use on their way to Switzerland, the Greek radio station Athina984informed on Thursday. Two men aged 22 and 29 were apprehended by the police at Iraklia airport on the island of Crete. They have been accused of forging official documents.
If the mining company OKD, which has filed for insolvency, is not able to pay wages and severance payments to employees, the state will take over, the Minister for Industry and Trade, Jan Mládek, said on Thursday. According to Mr Mládek, the company will run out of cash already in June. OKD filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday, after the Czech government had rejected appeals from the firm – which employs around 10,000 people – for financial support to help it close lossmaking mines and restructure its business.
Betting company Fortuna said it business boomed in the first quarter of the year with the value of bets placed rising by around 26 percent to total around 250 million euros. But operating profit plummeted by around 37 percent to 4.6 million euros. Fortuna, majority owned by the Penta group, said one of the main factors was a steeper betting tax in the Czech Republic. The group operates in the Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Hungarian markets.