News Threat of EU freeze on Czech funding lifted says Věra Jourová
The Czech Republic has lifted a threat from the European Commission to freeze funding worth tens of billions of crowns because of the country’s failure to put in place sufficiently strong laws for evaluating the environmental impact of major infrastructure projects, Minister for Regional Development Věra Jourová announced on Monday. Jourová said that she and Minister of the Environment Richard Brabec last week won more time to amend the so-called EIA rules. The Commission started proceedings against the Czech Republic for its flawed environmental legislation in April last year. Separately, Jourová said that the final proposal on a new law aimed at shaping a professional and non-politicized Czech civil service should be ready for consultation by the end of this month.
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Czech top woman singles player Petra Kvitová has been eliminated from the French Open in the third round. Kvitová lost 0:6, 7:6, 0:6 to US player Shelby Rogers, Rogers already knocked out Czech Karolína Plíšková in the first round. Last year’s Czech finalist Lucie Šafářová also lost to Australian Samantha Stosur 3:6, 7:6, 5:7. Later Barbora Strýcová lost to world number two Agnieska Radwanska 2:6, 7:6, 6: 2. Kvitová’s form has been indifferent since the start of the year with the player only recently recruiting a new trainer.
The Prague Bar Association and state prosecutors have said they are looking into controversial comments by lawyer Klára Samková. Samková compared Islam during a seminar in the lower house of parliament on May 18 to Nazism and Communism. The comments prompted a walk out by the Turkish ambassador and representatives of other Islamic countries attending. The bar council says it is examining whether the comments were in conflict with its ethical code and the prosecutor for Prague 1 into whether they represented a criminal offense. Samková later suggested the Turkish ambassador should be expelled from the Czech Republic.
Train chaos has been caused after part of an empty passenger train derailed between Prague’s main train station and the suburb of Vršovice. Many local and long distance train services out of the capital have now been switched to other stations because of the closure of the key lines. Delays are expected to continue throughout the day before the problem can be dealt with.
Dozens paid their last respects to designer and illustrator Adolf Born at Prague’s Strašnice crematorium on Friday. He died at the age of 85 on Sunday. Some of the mourners dressed up in traditional costumes from the end of the Hapsburg era. Born, was a great admirer of the Austro-Hungarian empire which preceded the creation of the independent Czechoslovakia in 1918. The ceremony ended with a rendition of Born’s favourite Radetsky March by Johann Strauss senior. Born was the illustrator of hundreds of childrens’ books enjoyed by four generation of Czechs.
Members of the lower house of parliament on Friday approved a new atomic law. The new law replaces legislation dating back to 1997 and updates Czech rules with the latest EU directives. The Czech government says the new rules should simplify some of the procures for building new nuclear reactors. The new law still has to be approved by the Upper House, the Senate, and the head of state.
Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec has said he will challenge a decision by Prague City Authorities and Prague 1 local council that demonstrators who carried a mock gallows should not even be fined. Chovanec said he was offended that the action during a demonstration against immigration in July last year in Prague was not even considered as a civil offence. During the demonstration, attended by several hundred, placards were also carried accusing some politicians of treason against the country.
A US military convoy crossed into the Czech Republic on Friday morning. The convoy, around half as big again as the one which was welcomed last year, is on its way to exercises in the Baltic states. Czech army vehicles are due to join the convoy on Saturday, when Czech and US soldiers will get a chance to familiarize themselves with the different equipment being used. The US convoy should quit Czech territory on Monday morning.
Minister of Health Svatopluk Němeček will reintroduce a bill to the government on Monday for the banning of smoking in restaurants and other places. That move was decided by a meeting of coalition government party leaders on Friday. The meeting was called by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka in the wake of the defeat of the previous proposal in the lower house of parliament on Wednesday. Friday’s meeting was not attended by ANO leader Andrej Babiš or the leader of the Christian Democrats Pavel Bělobrádek, both of whom said they had prior engagements. The defeat of the bill on Wednesday sparked rancour in the ruling government coalition, mostly focused on the ANO lawmakers who voted three different ways on the final proposal.
The 2015 František Kriegel Award for civic courage, handed out annually by the Charter 77 Foundation, was given to the representatives of the Klinika social centre, which became a target of an arson attack by ultra-right radicals this year. An independent jury praised the centre's voluntary activities for its humanity and for not falling under the influence of ideology or market forces. František Kriegel, the Charter 77 signatory, was the only Czechoslovak political leader who refused to sign Moscow's humiliating dictate after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August of 1968.
Czech spirits producer Rudolf Jelínek posted a record turnover last year amounting to nearly 470 million crowns. The company’s profit was 70 percent higher than in the previous year, the general director Pavel Dvořáček told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. The traditional plum liquor producer has finally recovered from the methanol scandal of 2012, during which 47 Czechs died of alcohol poisoning and which resulted in a decrease in demand for hard alcohol. In 2012, the company suffered losses to the tune of 19 million crowns.