Daily news summary Daily news summary
Office of the President not to apologize for President Zeman’s words
The Office of the President has filed an appellate complaint to the Supreme Court against a verdict by the Prague Municipal Court which ordered the Office of the President to apologize for President Zeman’s claim that the renowned Czech journalist Ferdinand Peroutka had written an article called Hitler is as a gentleman. The said article was never found. The president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told journalists on Friday that the Office of the President would not apologize to Peroutka’s grand-daughter since such a move would mean that the Czech state accepted responsibility for the president’s words, which would set a dangerous precedent and might open the door to many other lawsuits. The deadline for the apology expired on Friday.
Jan Kysela, an expert on constitutional law, has criticized the absurdity of the situation which does not allow the president to be sued, on the grounds of his immunity, and does not allow the state, which was sued in his place, to accept responsibility for his words. He said that if an apology were to be enforced through fines, they too would have to be covered from state funds.
Health insurer Vojenská Zdravotní Pojištovna may come under forced administration
The Health Ministry has warned the insurance company Vojenská Zdravotní Pojištovna that if it fails to fulfill its commitments to clients it will come under forced administration. The company has been racked by internal conflict for some time. Its executive board on Friday voted for the dismissal of the company’s director Karel Stein, however the company’s management is refusing to acknowledge the validity of its decision. The Health Ministry has said that in the event of a change-of-guard it wants a new director elected in an open competition.
Aero Vodochody to service country's military aircraft
The Defense Ministry and plane maker Aero Vodochody have signed an agreement under which the company will service the military’s fleet of 24 L-159 fighter jets and four Albatros L-139 planes until 2022. The contract is for 2.5 billion crowns. According to ministry sources the price is realistic since up until now the fleet’s maintenance cost approximately 250 million crowns annually. The air force has nine Albatros planes but five are not in use and the ministry is looking for a buyer.
Health Ministry wants to reduce health expenditures for children and seniors
The Health Ministry wants to reduce health expenditures for seniors and children by lowering the ceiling on annual expenses for medicines for groups at risk. According to the proposal people over 70 should not have to contribute more than 500 crowns a year to their medicines, down from the present 2,500, and minors should pay a maximum 1,000 crowns, down from the present 5,000. Under the present arrangement patients are reimbursed for anything paid over that limit by their respective insurance company at the end of the year. The opposition centre-right parties are opposed to the idea, arguing that the present ceilings are generous enough.
Czech and Slovak cabinets to hold joint session
The Czech and Slovak governments are to hold a joint working session in Bratislava on Monday with security issues, cooperation in defense and transport expected to be high on the agenda. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists on Friday that ministers would discuss bilateral ties and cross-border cooperation as well as make plans for a joint celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. The two nations spent 73 years in a common state, parting ways in 1993, but have maintained exceptionally close ties.
Czech Republic ranks 31st on the Economic Freedom of the World Index
The Czech Republic has placed 31st on the Economic Freedom of the World Index published by the Canadian institute Fraser, up by eleven rungs as compared to last year. The index compares data from 159 countries, assessing a number of indicators, among them the size of the public sector, the quality of legislation, foreign trade and overall regulation. Monetary issues and inflation are also taken into consideration. Top of the ladder are Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand.
Sapa market in trouble over uncertified meat
Hygiene officers inspecting Prague’s Vietnamese Sapa market uncovered 35 tons of uncertified frozen meat in storage, the ctk news agency reported. According to the inspectors the meat was sold to Vietnamese restaurants around town, presenting a serious health risk. Sapa management faces a million crown fine. The matter is being further investigated. The number of inspections at Sapa increased after an inspection earlier this year found serious shortcomings, including rotting uncertified meat.
Six more Iraqi refugees decide to return home
A six-member Iraqi family which settled in the Czech Republic this year within a relocation project for 150 people organized by the foundation Generation 21 has decided to return home. The news was confirmed both by the foundations’s spokesman Martin Frydl and the Interior Ministry which granted the family asylum. The reason for their decision was reportedly homesickness, health reasons and the conviction that the situation in their homeland had improved enough to allow them to return. The relocation project was deemed a failure since out of the 89 Christian refugees who settled in the country, twenty-five left for Germany and eight more returned home almost immediately. The project was later scrapped by the Interior Ministry.
Babiš’s fund buys second biggest health centre in Prague
An investment fund owned by finance minister and tycoon Andrej Babiš has bought Prague’s second biggest health centre, Hospodářské noviny reported on Friday. The ANO chief’s Fond Hartenberg, which is active in the health sphere, has acquired a 70-percent stake in Poliklinika Modřany. It employs almost 100 doctors and serves a catchment area with a population of 60,000 people. A representative of Fond Hartenberg refused to say how much the acquisition had cost but said it would invest tens of millions of crowns in renovating the facility.
Czechs beat US in last game at World Cup of Hockey
The Czech Republic won their last game at the World Cup of Hockey in Canada, beating the USA 4:3 on Thursday in a match to decide third place in their group. Both sides had already failed to progress to the semi-finals at the tournament. Two of the Czechs’ goals came from forward Milan Michálek. Josef Jandač’s men had lost their previous games to Canada and Team Europe.