The Czech Republic should step up its efforts to detect, investigate and prosecute foreign bribery, according to a new OECD report released on Thursday. The report, which evaluates the country’s implementation of the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Politician in International Business Transactions, says Prague must improve its system combating foreign bribery, especially in view of the country’s export-oriented economy. Seventeen years after ratifying the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, the Czech Republic has yet to prosecute a case involving the bribery of foreign public officials.
President Miloš Zeman has appointed Stanislav Štech as Czech minister of education, youth and sports. Mr. Štech, who is 62, is a Charles University psychology professor and a former deputy minister of education. He replaces the Social Democratic Party’s Kateřina Valachová, who announced her resignation after one of her deputies was charged with large-scale corruption involving sports subsidies.
The Czech Republic will set up a consulate in Manchester in order to improve services for the public and handle a growing number of requests for Czech citizenship in the wake of Brexit, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek told journalists on Wednesday. The proposal has been approved by the government and the consulate should begin operating at the start of next year. There are presently some 100,000 Czechs living in Great Britain and approximately 300,000 Czechs visit the country every year. At present consular services are only provided by the Czech Embassy in London.
The police have arrested three people on suspicion of manipulating public tenders for work on the premises of the president’s summer residence Lany Chateau. The three are employees of Lesní správa Lány, an organization administering close to six hectares of land and forests which belong to the Office of the President. They are said to have manipulated public tenders worth 60 million crowns. The police allegedly raided the office of the organization and employees' private homes. The Office of the President has not so far commented on the development.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says he has been disquieted by the arrests made during demonstrations in Russia on Monday. Mr. Sobotka said people had the right to express their views without being detained and called on the Moscow government to respect freedom of expression and assembly. Russian police arrested over 1,000 people at anti-corruption rallies in Moscow and St. Petersburg, while the opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained at his home before they got underway.
President Miloš Zeman has said two principles will guide his steps following parliamentary elections in October: speaking on a tour of South Bohemia, he said he would task the leader of the winning party with the formation of a new government. But he also said he would impress on the winner to deal respectfully with other parties, not least in the event of a close first and second-place finish. The last election, for example, saw the Social Democrats just pip newcomers ANO. The latter, opinion polls suggest, are the front-runners this time.
The third Prague European Summit gets underway on Tuesday bringing together politicians, analysts and other key figures to discuss the future of the EU. Topics highlighted over the three-day event will include European security and defense, ties with Russia and the US, and economic investment. Key guests this year include Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák, Deputy European Commission head Frans Timmermans, and former prime minister of Italy Massimo d'Alema. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek will also speak at the event.
The Social Democrats Kateřina Valachová, who was due to step down on Saturday, will remain Czech minister of education, youth and sports for now, Czech Radio reported. President Miloš Zeman had given her until June 10 to reconsider her decision to resign following the charging of her deputy with large-scale corruption. Though she has not changed her mind, the president is set to go on a regional tour on Sunday and will not officially accept her resignation until he returns on Wednesday. She will be replaced by Stanislav Štech, who has hitherto been a deputy education minister.
The European Union will itself have to be capable of guaranteeing security in the bloc in the future, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed at a joint-press conference in Prague Friday launching a conference on defence. Prime Minister Sobotka stressed that closer cooperation between member states on defence and security in no way was meant to supersede NATO, just the opposite, saying that the alliance stood to benefit. NATO has welcomed the idea of the European defence fund, saying it would allow greater effectivity. Mr Sobotka reminded attendees that one of the founding principles of the EU was to secure long-term peace in Europe, while Mr Juncker said it was not a question of whether the EU should improve its defence capabilities against potential threats but how quickly it could do so.
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