News Ukraine says it wants an association agreement with the EU and stable relations with Russia

28-02-2014 18:36 | Daniela Lazarová

The foreign minister of Ukraine’s newly-formed government, Andriy Deshchytsya, has said his country wants and association agreement with the EU and stabile relations with Russia. Following a meeting with the Visegrad goup foreign ministers in Kiev on Friday, Mr. Deshchytsya said the new Ukrainian government was prepared to open talks with Russia on stabilizing bilateral relations and in particular finding a peaceful solution to the unraveling crisis in Crimea. The representatives of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland assured Kiev they would provide whatever assistance was within their means. Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said that in view of the situation in Crimea the most pressing issue now was to maintain the unity of the country. Meanwhile, the EU on Friday reiterated its offer of a free-trade pact with Ukraine, saying the country would see the economic benefits within weeks of signing the agreement.

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Forever 21 to pen its first store in Prague

28-07-2016 11:55 | Daniela Lazarová

Forever 21, the American chain of fast fashion retailers, is to open its first store in the Czech Republic this autumn. The chain is expanding to nine more European countries including Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Portugal. Its first store in the Czech Republic should open at the Černy Most shopping centre in Prague. 

Czech investments in Turkey at risk

28-07-2016 11:46 | Daniela Lazarová

The situation in Turkey in the wake of the failed coup is putting at risk Czech investments in the country, the daily Hospodářské Noviny wrote on Thursday. Among those detained are the top managers of Naksan Holding a company for which the Czech company Vítkovice Machinery Group is building an electric power plant. The Czech Export Bank provided a 12 billion crown investment loan for the project, one of its biggest investments in recent years. It is now unclear if the project will get finished. According to Hospodářské Noviny there are dozens of other projects involving Czech companies that have been put on hold for which the Czech state has loaned close to 25 billion crowns. The Czech Foreign Ministry is reported to have entered into negotiations with the Turkish side. 

Parliamentary committee to hear two former elite police officers

28-07-2016 11:32 | Daniela Lazarová

A Parliamentary committee set up to investigate a planned reorganization of the police force is to hear evidence form two elite police chiefs on Thursday, the former head of the squad for fighting organized crime Robert Šlachta and former high placed criminal investigator Jiří Komárek. Mr. Šlachta originally asked to be heard by Parliament’s Security Committee saying he had evidence of links between the police and the criminal underworld. He resigned from office over the planned reform which he believes is being undertaken to bring his team of investigators under greater control and undermine their independence. 

State loan offered to OKD to continue operations

28-07-2016 08:31 | Chris Johnstone

A loan of 700 million crowns from the state will be offered to struggling hard coal mining company OKD, The amount and terms of the loan to ensure mining operations can continue while the future of the company is resolved has been fought over during recent weeks by the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Industry and Trade. The mining company, which itself launched insolvency proceedings, has said that 1.0 billion crowns would be needed. OKD had warned that the state could be faced with massive costs if mining operations were halted. 

Teachers wages to rise from November

28-07-2016 08:30 | Chris Johnstone

Wages for teachers will be hiked from September by around eight percent compared with their current levels. The move should mean increases in monthly gross wages of around 2,000 to 2,400 crowns. The government had given priority to raising teachers’ wages, they are among the worst paid graduates in the country, but the remaining question was whether Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš would agree to the early increases at an estimated cost of around 2.24 billion crowns. The Cabinet Wednesday also agree to a 5.0 percent wage rise for state employees to take effect from the start of November. 

Hollande cancels Prague visit after killing of priest

27-07-2016 18:46 updated | Ian Willoughby

The French president, Francois Hollande, has cancelled a planned visit to Prague on Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday’s brutal killing of a priest in a church near Rouen in an attack claimed by Islamic State. Mr. Hollande had been due to visit the Czech capital last week but cancelled that trip after a terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day that left 84 dead. The French leader will speak to Czech President Miloš Zeman by telephone on Wednesday, the latter’s spokesperson said. Prime Minister Sobotka later said that in a telephone call Hollande stressed that the EU's main mission should be to secure the security of its citizens, 

Academics call for cancellation of Invalidovna auction

27-07-2016 17:04 | Chris Johnstone

Academics from universities in Prague, Olomouc, and Brno have signed an open letter to prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka calling for him to intervene and cancel the planned auction of the historic Invalidovna complex in the capital. The auction of the Baroque building is set to take place on August 8 with a state property body setting a minimum price of 637.7 million crowns. The academics warn that previous experience in Prague of protected historic buildings being sold and redeveloped has not been encouraging. The building was constructed from 1731 to 1737 to care for war veterans. 

South Moravia struck by Hepatitis A epidemic

27-07-2016 15:45 | Chris Johnstone

Brno and the surrounding South Moravian region is experiencing its biggest epidemic of Hepatitis A for the last 15 years. Since the start of the year, 107 cases have been reported according to the chief regional hygiene officer. For the whole of 2015 there were only 27 cases. Hepatitis A is an acute infection of the liver usually caused by poor hygiene. 

Czech border checks along German border to be tightened

27-07-2016 13:26 | Chris Johnstone

Checks at the border between the Czech Republic and Germany will be stepped up, minister of interior Milan Chovanec has announced. The minister said the reason for the move was the fear that unsuccessful asylum applicants in Germany might seek to move to neighbouring countries rather than be sent back to their countries of origin. The Czech minister highlighted recent comments from some German politicians that hundreds of failed applicants will be returned. He added that Czech police already had pinpointed areas where they could try and cross the border illegally. 

Court throws out cases over explosions at Vrbětice munitions depot

27-07-2016 12:53 | Chris Johnstone

A court in Zlín on Wednesday threw out charges against five people from two arms firms connected with the explosion of munitions at a depot in Vrbětice in the far south east of the country. Two explosions at the site late in 2014 resulted in two deaths. Some of the accused had been facing prison sentences of up to 12 years storing illegal arms. The two companies involved in the proceedings were arms company Excalibar Army and trading company Real Trade Praha. 

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