News Zeman calls Juncker a “good choice” for post of president of European Commission
Czech President Miloš Zeman made clear on Sunday he considers the possible nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker to head the European Commission a “good choice”, saying he believed that the new EC would bring about changes to the European Union. The president made the statement in his regular Sunday broadcast on Czech Radio. Juncker, a former long-standing Luxembourg prime minister, is the election-winning European People´s Party´s (EPP) candidate for EC president. On Saturday, his candidacy was backed by social democrat leaders including the Czech and Slovak PMs, Bohuslav Sobotka and Robert Fico. Juncker´s candidacy is to be discussed at the EU summit in Brussels.
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Nine months after its appointment, the Czech government is stable and can rely on sufficient support in Parliament, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement marking a year since a snap general election. The government’s stability allows it to undertake unpopular measures including labour market and education reforms, the prime minister said. The government has successfully launched a public administration reform but should improve tax collecting and curb crime, according to Mr Sobotka.
The television film Osmy (Wisdom Teeth or Eights), produced by Czech Television, has won the Prix Europa 2014 award for best TV drama. The film, set in communist Czechoslovakia in 1980, follows the main character’s personal as well as political misfortunes. The jury said it was hilarious, and created black but warm-hearted absurd humour. The film is to premiere on Czech TV in December.
Daylight saving time in the Czech Republic and other European countries ends at 3 AM on Sunday when clocks go back 60 minutes. The change will affect 13 night trains which will stop and wait for an hour at the stations to depart according to their regular schedules. Night public transport connections in Prague will not be affected by the change as they will complete their routes according to daylight saving time.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is among those set to receive Czech state decoration on October 28, the country’s Independence Day, the daily Mladá fronta dnes reported. Mr Fico will be decorated for his contribution to friendship between the Czech and Slovak nations, the paper said, adding that Mr Zeman and Mr Fico are personal friends. The president’s office has not released the list of people set to receive the state honours on Tuesday but according to media reports, the president will among others decorate Sir Nicholas Winton who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Holocaust, and filmmaker Robert Sedláček who made a documentary about Mr Zeman before he became president.
Sparta Prague and Slovan Bratislava face sanctions from UEFA, the governing body of European football, following crowd violence during their Europa League tie in Bratislava on Thursday night. The game was suspended for 40 minutes shortly before half time after violent exchanges occurred between fans of the teams. Sparta eventually won the game 3-0. The hosts now face stadium closure for failing to prevent the disturbances while Sparta’s fans could be banned from travelling to their team’s away games. Both clubs have condemned the incident. A verdict by UEFA’s disciplinary committee is expected next week, the Czech FA said.
President Miloš Zeman is in China on the first official visit by a Czech head of state to the country in 10 years. Mr Zeman on Friday visited a trade show in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, and met with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai to discuss plans to launch a direct flight connection between their countries, a spokesman for the Czech president said. Mr Zeman is accompanied by a large business delegation which includes representatives of Czech industrial companies, universities, wine producers, legal firms, railway operators, and others. The Czech head of state is scheduled to meet with the Chinese president and prime minister on Monday, the last day of his Chinese visit.
A man convicted of last year’s murder of an influential Social Democrat politician has been sentenced to 17.5 years in prison. The court said that the man, a former army officer, gunned down Roman Houska in front of his home in the northern city of Ústí nad Labem in what looked like an execution, and rejected the shooter’s claims that he acted in self-defence. Media reports described the killing as a contract murder but the court said no motive had been established. However, if new evidence emerges, the authorities will act accordingly, the court said.
Top Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová lost to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 2-6 3-6 in the group stage of the WTA Finals in Singapore on Friday, and has been eliminated from the event. Kvitová went ahead at the start of both sets but lost her lead after a series of errors and poor serving. The 24-year-old Czech said she was exhausted but would be in shape for the Czech Fed Cup team’s tie against Germany in Prague next month.
Renowned Romany musician Eugen Horváth died on Friday at the age of 74, the Museum of Romany Culture in Brno said. The Slovak-born Horváth, known as Janko, came from a musical family, and learned the play the violin at an early age. In 1969, he formed his own cimbalom band which recorded several albums including the 1992 record Gypsy Weeping.
The Czech Finance Ministry has lowered its forecast for this year’s GDP growth to 2.4 percent, down from its previous estimate of 2.7 percent. The ministry said is cut the forecast due to revisions of the country’s economic growth in the previous quarters as calculated according to a new European methodology, known as ESA 2010. In the next two years, the ministry expects the economy to grow by 2.5 percent, mainly because of growing domestic consumption.