News UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to visit Prague next week

26-03-2014 14:43 | Jan Richter

Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-Moon will visit Prague next week, the news agency ČTK reported. The UN leader will meet President Miloš Zeman and Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek during his brief trip scheduled for April 4. Ban Ki-Moon will also visit the lower house of the Czech Parliament and Prague’s Charles University.

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MPs return civil service bill to second reading

27-08-2014 12:46 | Ian Willoughby

The Chamber of Deputies has returned a government civil service bill to a second reading after the coalition agreed to adopt changes demanded by the opposition; this includes dropping a proposal for a chief civil servant whose office would control the entire system. The legislation is aimed at depoliticising the civil service and enabling the increased usage of available European Union funds. MPs are expected to debate the bill again on September 10. The prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said even if President Miloš Zeman vetoes the bill it should come into force from the start of next year. 

Sparta boss could face sack if club fail to reach Europa League

27-08-2014 12:32 | Ian Willoughby

The manager of Sparta Prague, Vítězslav Lavička, could lose his job if the Czech football league champions fail to reach the Europa League group stage, the Czech News Agency reported. Sparta drew 1:1 with Zwolle in in the first leg of a playoff tie last week and will welcome the Dutch side at their Letná stadium on Thursday for the second. Sparta have been performing poorly since being knocked out in qualification for the more prestigious Champions League and have lost their last two matches in the domestic league. 

Short-list for 2014 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize revealed

27-08-2014 12:18 | Ian Willoughby

A short-list of three nominees for the 2014 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize has been revealed in Prague. The award will go to either the B'Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in Israel, the Jesuit Refugee Service in Malta or Anar Mammadli, a human rights activist from Azerbaijan whose work focuses on election monitoring. The winner of the second edition of the award will be revealed on September 29. It is presented by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Charter 77 Foundation and the Václav Havel Library. 

Police name suspect in Prague acid attack

27-08-2014 12:11 | Ian Willoughby

Police have revealed information about a man they suspect of carrying out an acid attack on a woman in Prague on Tuesday. A search has been launched for Milan Balamut who is suspected of pouring acid from a plastic bottle on the woman, who is 50 and his former girlfriend, in the lobby of her apartment building in the city’s Michle district before making off with her bag and mobile phone. Police said the suspect also went by different names and had a history of burglary. 

Czech Foreign Ministry seeking to improve visa services in over a dozen states

27-08-2014 10:25 | Daniela Lazarová

The Czech Foreign Ministry is planning to improve visa services through outsourcing in over a dozen states where the process is hampered by limited consulate staff. The ministry is now selecting local firms who would pre-process applications and increase the number of visa-application points. The new service should see the opening of 25 visa centres in countries such as China, India, Turkey and South Africa. 

EC adopts partnership agreement with the Czech Republic

27-08-2014 09:46 | Daniela Lazarová

The European Commission has adopted a partnership agreement for European structural and investment funds submitted by the Czech government. The document, which took three years to negotiate, determines the country’ s investment strategy for the next six year period. It paves the way for the drawing of over 22 billion euros which are to be used to create new jobs, boost competitiveness, fight social exclusion and support environmental protection projects. 

President Zeman highlights need for economic diplomacy

26-08-2014 18:07 updated | Daniela Lazarová

President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday received Czech ambassadors from around the world at Prague Castle. The president highlighted the growing significance of economic diplomacy, particularly in view of the Ukrainian crisis, and said he considered it a success that Czech representatives in Brussels had helped moderate the scope of the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions in favour of Czech exporters. The president also stressed the need to diversify the country’s export strategy and seek new markets further afield. In connection with developments in Iraq, the Czech head of state said international terrorism must be fought on all fronts. 

Health authorities taking preventative measures against possible spread of Ebola

26-08-2014 17:26 | Daniela Lazarová

The Czech Health Ministry has requested a complete list of Czech nationals working in countries with Ebola outbreaks as well as Czech students studying in high-risk areas in order to take effective measures against the possible spread of the disease in the Czech Republic. Prague’s Bulovka hospital has the facilities to treat highly infectious diseases and its staff is on standby for a possible emergency, but the Health Ministry says the Czech Republic would not have the facilities required to transfer Ebola patients home from African states should that prove necessary. 

Czechs buying more fairtrade products

26-08-2014 17:14 | Daniela Lazarová

Czechs are buying an increasing amount of Fairtrade products, Fairtrade Czech Republic director Hana Chorvátová said at a press conference in Prague on Tuesday. While in 2005 Czechs only bought 3 million crowns worth of fairtrade goods, last year the amount rose to 174 million crowns. By far the most popular fairtrade commodity on the market is coffee. 

Arnika warns of toxic substances in some school supplies

26-08-2014 14:40 | Daniela Lazarová

A random laboratory test of children’s schools supplies for hazardous substances commissioned by the NGO Arnika revealed excessive amounts of toxic substances in three out of eleven tested products. Parents are warned in particular against two fake designer label pen holders Transformers-Optimus Prime and 21st Century which were found to contain several kinds of dangerous phthalates, exceeding permitted norms by up to 150 times. The NGO presented its findings at a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday urging parents to pay attention to the source and quality of the school accessories they acquire for their offspring. 

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