Czech MPs have elected Stanislav Křeček as the country’s next
ombudsman. A former Social Democratic Party MP and deputy ombudsman, Mr.
Křeček, who is 81, will replace Anna Šabatová when her six-year term
ends next week. The new public advocate was elected by 91 of 175 deputies
in a secret ballot in the 200-seat lower house.
Mr. Křeček says he will defend the rights of the majority population and has said for instance that Romanies should take care of their own rights. Opposition parties have criticised his election, with the leader of TOP 09, Markéta Pekarová-Adamová saying he would debase the office of ombudsman.
Supporters of Mr. Křeček, who was nominated by President Miloš Zeman, say he is familiar with the institution, having previously worked there, and will help return it to its original mission.
The leading Czech philosopher Erazim Kohák passed away at the weekend at the age of 86. Professor Kohák’s family had to flee the Communists in 1948 and he could only return to his native country after 1989. Among those paying tribute to him have been Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, who says his death will leave a gap in Czech public life.
The Bohemian town of Kladruby is famous worldwide for its horse stud farm, founded by the Habsburg emperor Rudolf II. It is also home to a spectacular 12th century Benedictine monastery where the martyred saint of Bohemia, John of Nepomuk, was tried and tortured. An effort is now afoot to have the cloister and Czech Baroque Gothic style church named a European Heritage site.
Pensioners in the Czech Republic will see an increase in their monthly
old-age pensions by 6.7 percent on average, which amounts to around 900
crowns, as of January 2020.
The hike is higher by about 200 crowns than the increase that the pension law would normally allow, based on salary growth and inflation. It is the second hike in succession as the government strives to bring pensions faster to a higher level.
The Social Democrats of the ruling coalition, who hold the Labour and Social Affairs portfolio, say they want pensions to reach 50% of the average wage by the end of the government’s term in 2021.
Jan Hamáček, leader of the Social Democrats, a junior party in the ruling
coalition, has said his party will not be taking part in a meeting called
by the opposition Pirate Party in response to the EC audit alleged to have
confirmed that the Czech prime minister has a conflict of interest.
The opposition centre-right parties are seeking coordinated action in response to the news and are calling for the audit to be made public.
The Social Democrats are refusing to be drawn into the dispute, with Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček telling journalists that the audit is primarily the problem of the prime minister’s ANO party.
Neither the Social Democrats nor Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct
Democracy would have made the five-percent threshold to reach the Czech
lower house if elections had been held last month, suggests a newly
published poll conducted for Czech Television by the Kantar CZ agency. Both
parties would have got 4.5 percent and exited the Chamber of Deputies, the
Government leaders ANO would have received the backing of 31.5 percent of respondents, ahead of the Pirates on 17 percent and the Civic Democrats on 12.5 percent.
Prague’s historic city centre has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1992. However, membership in the prestigious club could come under threat, at least according to a report by UNESCO experts who visited the Czech capital this summer. The Czech Minister of Culture has pledged to look into the matter, but City Hall officials say that the matter has been exaggerated.
Scrutiny regarding the handling of funds by the country’s two public
broadcasters – Czech Television and Czech Radio – should be handled by
the politically independent Supreme Audit Office instead of Parliament,
according to a proposal submitted in the lower house by four Social
Democrat members of the Chamber of Deputies.
The proposal was made amid an ongoing dispute in the lower-house, where the Communists and the Freedom and Direct Democracy party are blocking approval of Czech Television’s annual budgets.
Czech Television stated via its social media that its management is already subject to a multi-level audit and that it would not be opposed to scrutiny from the Supreme Audit Office.
The Czech Republic has halted arms exports to Turkey in response to
Ankara's incursion into northern Syria, Interior Minister Jan
Hamáček (Social Democrats) announced via Twitter on Monday evening,
following a government meeting. Trade Minister Karel Havlíček, whose
ministry had published the country's arms export figures earlier that
day, said that armaments exports to Turkey only make up around CZK 140
The news comes after meeting of the European Union's foreign ministers in Luxembourg, where member states pledged to suspend weapons exports to Turkey, but did not go as far as to implement a formal EU-wide arms embargo. During which Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) told journalists that he will propose to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš that the Czech Republic take part in an arms embargo on Turkey.
The lower house‘s Investigatory Commission on OKD announced on Tuesday that it has decided to file a criminal complaint against four former government ministers for their role in the privatisation of the Silesian coal mining joint-stock company Ostravsko-karvinské doly (OKD). Among them is the former prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka. According to the commission, the privatisation and subsequent events were in contradiction to the interests of the state.