President Zeman came under fire from many sides for attacking the Czech
media, including Czech public television.
Deputies from TOP 09, the Civic Democratic Party, the Christian Democrats and the Mayors and Independents Party walked out of Vladislav Hall even as he spoke in protest. TOP 09 leader Jiří Pospíšil said he was sorry to see the president use a stately occasion for petty attacks on his opponents and the media world, in particular the public media.
Other politicians such as Marian Jurečka from the Christian Democrats and Miroslava Němcová from the Civic Democrats denounced the attacks on Twitter, saying they were uncalled for and in bad taste.
Miloš Zeman took his second presidential oath of office at Prague Castle
on Thursday at the start of a second five-year presidential term. The
inauguration ceremony in the historic Vladislav Hall took place in the
presence of both houses of Parliament.
Some 700 guests, including deputies, senators, diplomats and other personalities attended the event, which was transmitted on a big screen on nearby Hradčanské Square.
The president signed his oath of office at a table used by Czechoslovakia’s first president Tomáš G. Masaryk which, like so many other pieces of furniture and architectural elements at Prague Castle, was designed by the Slovenian architect Jossip Plecnik.
The inauguration ceremony ended with the national anthem and a 21-gun salute in the president’s honour.
In his inauguration speech the president criticized the media for “mentoring the public”, expressed support for direct elections of mayors and governors and said he would like to see Czechs become more engaged in public affairs. A number of right-wing deputies left the assembly hall in protest of the president’s criticism of the media.
After the ceremony, the head of state and the First Lady visited St. Vitus’ Cathedral to pay homage to the remains of St Wenceslas, the patron saint of the country.
A meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday addressed the
situation at the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces (GIBS), after
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said he had lost faith in its head Michal
Murín and doubted his moral and professional authority.
Mr Babiš said his concerns were based on documents of the Supreme State Office in Olomouc, which cannot be made public and with which he would acquaint members of the National Security Council.
Meanwhile, Michal Murín, who said last week that the prime minister had pressured him to resign and threatened his with a scandal if he did not, presented his case to members of Parliament’s Security Committee. The hearing took place behind closed doors.
The ride-sharing service Uber has reached an agreement with the government
on conditions which would bring the service on an equal footing with
regular taxi drivers.
Following a meeting with Uber representatives on Thursday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the app-based service had agreed to use licensed-only drivers who would register and tax their earnings.
Prague and Brno taxi drivers have repeatedly protested against Uber, which they see as unfair competition.
Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip has cast doubt on the credibility of
the ANO party following its U-turn on the matter of the election of Zdeněk
Ondráček head of the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces.
Shortly after his election, ANO bowed to public and political pressure and withdrew its support for Ondráček, which resulted in his resignation.
His election to the post had been one of the conditions stated by the Communist Party in return for its support of a second ANO-led government. Filip said there was no way of knowing whether ANO would keep any of its other promises to the Communist Party.
The outgoing government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis has approved Major
General Aleš Opata’s appointment as the new chief of the General Staff
of the Czech Armed Forces.
He will replace Josef Bečvář in the post as of May. The change of guard at the post was initiated by Defence Minister Karla Šlechtová shortly after she took office.
The minister said she expected the new army chief-of- staff to improve the army’s management and improve exiting shortcomings in procuring army equipment.
The chief of NATO's Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, has told
the Russian news agency TASS he is “cautiously optimistic” with regard
to the possibility of improving relations between NATO and Russia.
Asked whether he believes that NATO and Russia can overcome the present period of tense relations and leave behind them the legacy of the Cold War, General Pavel said such a chance existed, but it needed developing a more intense dialogue on specific issues. He said the present agenda during bilateral contacts was vague and a fresh impetus was needed to move the relationship forward.
Relations between NATO and Russia soured after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 when NATO broke off military cooperation with Russia.
The owner of the investment group PPF Petr Kellner remains the richest
Czech according to Forbes magazine. According to the list, he is also the
88th richest person in the world. The market value of his assets is
estimated at 320 billion crowns (around 15.5 billion US dollars). It is the
first time Kellner has made it into the top 100.
Overall, six Czechs made it onto the ranking of the rich this year and the names were the same as for last year. The acting prime minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš finished second with assets estimated at 4.6 billion US dollars, followed by energy entrepreneur Karel Komárek.
The lower house has not voted on removing Tomio Okamura as deputy speaker
over his statements about the Lety concentration camp. The Christian
Democrats, who organised the extraordinary session on Wednesday, failed to
secure enough signatures to ensure a vote on the issue. Only 78 of 177
deputies present gave their backing to the item’s inclusion on the
The Freedom and Direct Democracy leader said in an interview that inmates at the camp had been free to come and go. In reality more than 300 prisoners were killed at Lety and hundreds more were sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. He later apologised for saying Lety had no fence.
Former leader of the Social Democratic Party, Bohuslav Sobotka, said the approach of the ANO party, which voted against the item’s inclusion on the session’s agenda, was a disgrace.