News Culture minister receives Dalai Lama in Prague

18-10-2016 10:32 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech minister of culture, Daniel Herman, received the Dalai Lama in Prague on Tuesday morning. The meeting took place at the Ministry of Culture and was also attended by other members of Mr. Herman’s party, the Christian Democrats. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka described the gathering as the private initiative of a cabinet member. No representatives of Mr. Sobotka’s Social Democrats or the other coalition party ANO met the Tibetan spiritual leader. Earlier this year Chinese diplomats protested against the visit of the Dalai Lama, who is in Prague to speak at the Forum 2000 conference; the annual event was started by his late friend Václav Havel.

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Former Czech PM bestowed with the French Legion of Honour

07-12-2016 11:24 | Jan Velinger

On Tuesday, France, represented by French Ambassador to the Czech Republic Charles Malinas, bestowed former prime minister Vladimír Špidla with the Legion of Honour, the country’s highest distinction. Mr Špidla received the honour for his role in furthering Czech-French relations and for his long support of European integration. Vladimír Špidla headed the Czech government at the time of the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union, in May 2004. He later served as European Commissioner for Employment, Social affairs and Equal Opportunities. He is currently a chief aide to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. 

President backs outgoing protocol head for Vatican post

07-12-2016 11:11 | Jan Velinger

The outgoing head of protocol at Prague Castle, Jindrich Forejt, who asked to leave his post citing personal and health reasons on Tuesday after images were released by a news website allegedly showing him snorting an unidentified white substance, would be the Czech Republic’s ambassador to the Vatican, if it were up to the head of the state. President Miloš Zeman told reporters it was his “personal wish” that Mr Forejt, who he praised for his work, to hold the post, but made clear that would depend on the Czech Foreign Ministry and whether Forejt received an agrément. The president said he had not spoken with Mr Forejt who is off ill. The head of protocol is to step down on December 31 of this year. 

Zeman: Periods of economic growth should see surplus

07-12-2016 11:03 | Jan Velinger

Addressing lawmakers in the lower house on Wednesday, President Miloš Zeman said that in the time of economic growth the state budget should see a surplus and in times of crisis should be balanced. He made the statement ahead of the debate on the government’s draft budget for 2017, which is counting on a deficit of 60 billion crowns (the equivalent of around 2.22 billion euros). The head of state has backed the proposal and had praise for the handling of the budget this year; he said he would look for additional cost-saving measures in the areas of subsidies for renewables and some social benefits. 

Tickets for Rammstein Prague concerts go quickly

07-12-2016 10:29 | Jan Velinger

Organisers this week added a second Prague date – May 29, 2017 – for the legendary German industrial band Rammstein, after a first concert to be held a day earlier at the city’s Eden Stadium quickly sold out. The last time the band performed in the capital was in 2011. Czech Radio reported that prices by resellers online had risen as high as 26,700 crowns (the equivalent of almost 1,000 euros). Official distributors Ticketpro and Ticketportal have warned buyers not to purchase from third parties, at the risk of buying forged, and therefore useless, tickets. 

Barrister wins appeal over fine for alleging bias of expert

07-12-2016 07:45 | Ian Willoughby

Barrister Petr Kočí has won an appeal against a fine he received for suggesting a court expert was biased because of his alleged Jewish background in a case in which Mr. Kočí was defending a far-right extremist, Lidovky.cz reported. The appeal court has not yet published the reasons for its decision. The barrister received a fine of CZK 100,000 from the Czech Bar Chamber. Mr. Kočí was representing a member of the Workers’ Party of Social Justice on trial for promoting Nazism and anti-Semitism at a public meeting. 

Pražský výběr set for biggest concert of 40-year career

07-12-2016 07:31 | Ian Willoughby

The rock group Pražský výběr are set to play the biggest concert of their 40-year career at Prague’s O2 Arena on Wednesday night. Pražský výběr will be accompanied by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra while a number of guests, including former members of the band, David Koller, Vojtěch Dyk and Monkey Business, will join them on stage. The group were founded by Michael Kocáb, who entered politics following the Velvet Revolution, overseeing the departure of Soviet troops from Czechoslovakia. 

Trump invites Zeman to White House in telephone conversation

06-12-2016 19:02 updated | Ian Willoughby

US president-elect Donald Trump has invited the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, to the White House, according to Mr. Zeman’s spokesman, Jiří Ovčáček, who said the two men had spoken by telephone on Tuesday. He said Mr. Trump had praised the fact that the Czech head of state had been the only European president who had publicly supported him prior to November’s election in the United States. The end of April is being spoken about as a possible date for the visit. For his part, America’s president-elect has accepted an invitation from Miloš Zeman to come to the Czech Republic, Mr. Ovčáček said. The pair’s conversation also took in Islamic terrorism and political and economic cooperation between their countries, he added. 

Zeman congratulates Van der Bellen on winning Austria presidential vote

06-12-2016 14:51 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has congratulated Alexander Van der Bellen on his election as president of Austria. Mr. Van der Bellen defeated the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer in Sunday’s election re-run. Mr. Zeman said the votes the former Greens leader had received were a testament to the hope that the Austrian electorate had in him. Other senior Czech politicians congratulated Mr. Van on Sunday evening der Bellen, soon after his victory became clear. 

More effort needed to get long-term unemployed into workforce, says PM

06-12-2016 13:36 | Ian Willoughby

The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic is the lowest in Europe but efforts must still be made to get the long-term unemployed into work, says Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Speaking after a visit to the headquarters of the country’s labour offices on Tuesday, Mr.Sobotka said that while just 366,000 people were out of work last month, there were almost 140,000 unfilled positions on the labour market. As well as offering such jobs to those out of work for a long time, steps must be taken to prevent social welfare abuse, the prime minister said. 

Police recommend charges against expert witness in Janoušek hit and run case

06-12-2016 13:09 | Ian Willoughby

The police have recommended that charges be filed against an expert witness who gave evidence in the case of Roman Janoušek, an influential businessman who was later found guilty of hit and run while under the influence, iDnes.cz reported. The police investigated the court expert on the urging of judge Tomáš Kubovec, who heard Mr. Janoušek’s trial. If found guilty of perjury and presenting false information the expert could face between six months and three years in prison and be banned from the profession. 

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