Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) has said that he will propose to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš that the Czech Republic take part in an arms embargo on Turkey in retaliation for the latter’s military operations in North-East Syria, according to Deník N. France and Germany tried to make this an EU-wide measure on Monday. While the EU has committed to suspending arms exports to Turkey, it stopped short of a union wide arms embargo, Reuters reports. Czech arms exports to Turkey doubled last year reaching EUR 5.4 million. The majority of exports is made up of small arms, vehicles and aircraft technology, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The lower house of Parliament is expected to approve a government tax
package at its session starting on Tuesday. It includes a proposal to raise
taxes on alcohol and tobacco products, and an increase in parental
The basic parental allowance could rise from 80,000 crowns to 300,000 crowns. MPs are also due to start discuss the draft state budget for 2020, which counts on a 40 billion crown deficit.
In the initial round, MPs will approve the budget’s basic parameters, i.e. revenue, expenditure and deficit. MPs have tabled dozens of amendments to the tax package, only some of which the Committee on Budgets has supported thus far.
On Friday, Prime Minister Andrei Babiš (ANO) and Communist party leader Vojtěch Filip agreed to allocate an additional 4.9 billion crowns for the health sector. Originally, 334 billion crowns was earmarked for the sector.
The ANO-appointed minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, says that if the
Social Democrats put forward a special tax on the banking sector it would
be in breach of the coalition agreement.
The latter party’s minister for labour and social affairs, Jana Maláčová, said last week that she would submit a bill on a banks tax herself if no agreement was reached with ANO on the matter.
Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Minster Schillerová said if her cabinet colleague actually put forward legislation to that effect it could spell the end of the coalition government.
Ms. Maláčová argues that Czech banks are making record profits.
The Czech Banking Association says 15 EU states have a bank sector tax.
The ANO party rose slightly in the polls in September and would receive 31
percent of the vote according to a September MEDIAN agency poll released on
Monday. At 13.5 percent the Pirates retain their position as the second
strongest party the Median survey shows, despite receiving 0.5 percent less
than in August. They are closely trailed by the Civic Democrats at 12.5
percent, whose preferences have gone down by 1 percent compared to August.
The anti-migrant Freedom and Direct Democracy party would receive 7.5 percent of the vote followed by the Social Democrats who are polling at 7 percent. The bottom three parties that are polling above the minimum level needed to enter the chamber of deputies are the Communist Party at 6.5 percent, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents who would both receive 5.5 percent according to the poll, meaning that all of the parties currently in the lower house would retain their representation.
After a debate that took up most of the day, the constitutional complaint
against President Miloš Zeman did not pass through the Chamber of Deputies
on Thursday, receiving only 58 votes and therefore missing the required
mark of 120 by a wide margin. MPs from the Pirate party, the Civic
Democrats, TOP09 and the Christian Democrats voted in favour of the motion,
while the ANO party, the Social Democrats, the Communist Party and the
Freedom and Direct Democracy party either voted against the complaint or
The complaint sought to bring the matter to the Constitutional Court which, after examining the case, could rule that the president acted in “blunt breach of the Constitution”. It narrowly passed through the Senate in July, but was not expected to pass through the lower house due to the fact that the ruling coalition together with the Communist Party and the Freedom and Direct Democracy party stated that they would not support it.
The vote was preceded by long discussions, which included heated exchanges between the representatives of the opposition parties in favour of the complaint and those supporting the president. Senator Václav Láska, who authored the complaint, said that President Miloš Zeman is intent on making the government responsible to him rather than the Chamber of Deputies and that this was the central motive that connected all of the points raised against his behaviour in the complaint.
The chairman of the ANO party's deputies' club, Jaroslav Faltýnek, accused Mr. Láska of holding hateful feelings towards the president, while Social Democrat deputy, Kateřina Valachová, said that the complaint contained too many points and would have had a greater chance if it focused purely on the president's actions regarding the appointment of ministers.
President Zeman says he did not violate the constitution.
The dispute over whether the controversial statue of Soviet Marshal Ivan
Konev should remain in its place should be settled by the inhabitants of
Prague 6 where it is located, Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček said in
a TV debate on Sunday. Mr. Hamáček said the dispute could be resolved in
a local referendum.
The fate of the statue has caused a rift between Prague and Moscow after it was repeatedly vandalized with red paint and the mayor of Prague 6, Ondřej Kolar, said it would be better to remove it altogether, ideally to the grounds of the Russian embassy.
Speaking to Russian journalists, Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky compared Mr. Kolar to a leader of the regional branch of the Nazi party NSDAP.
The words provoked an angry response from Prague with Civic Democrat leader Petr Fiala saying the Czech foreign minister should summon the Russian ambassador to demand an explanation.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said he regretted the fact that the discussion surrounding the Konev statue has crossed the bounds of a rational debate. “I do not consider the statement of the Russian culture minister appropriate. I think an apology would help calm the situation, "Petříček said in a text message to the ctk news agency.
The lower house of Parliament will debate a Senate proposal to file a
constitutional complaint against President Miloš Zeman on September 26,
without any specific recommendation from the chamber’s Committee for
Legal Matters, the ctk news agency reported. The committee’s only
recommendation is that the debate should be public.
The proposal was approved by the Senate in July. If it is passed by the lower house, it will reach the Constitutional Court.
However, this is unlikely, due to the ruling ANO-Social Democrat coalition, supported by the Communist Party, holding a majority in the Chamber of Deputies.
The complaint is based on the president’s recent procrastination tactics in sacking and naming a new culture minister and his frequent unwillingness to adhere to the government’s set foreign policy line.
The municipal state attorney’s office in Prague is expected to say on
Monday whether criminal charges will be brought against the Czech prime
minister, Andrej Babiš, and members of his family. The police have
recommended that charges be filed over suspicion of abuse of EU subsidies
in connection with Stork’s Nest, a hotel and conference centre near
Prague. The prosecutor had until the end of August to come to a decision on
the matter. The case file is reported to contain 23,000 pages.
Some members of the junior party in government, the Social Democrats, have called for ANO leader Babiš to stand down. However, party chairman Jan Hamáček says the Social Democrats will remain in the coalition even if the PM is charged.
President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday appointed Lubomír Zaorálek to the post of culture minister, ending a drawn-out dispute over who should manage the arts portfolio. The seasoned Social Democrat, who has previously served as the country’s foreign minister, stressed the need to recognize the huge potential of the arts sphere and said he was not afraid to cross swords with the president in fulfilling his goals.
Individual ministries negotiated an overall increase in expenditures of
around 17.5 billion crowns in 2020 above the expenditures projected in the
June draft budget, Finance Minister Alena Schillerova told journalists
following a week of one-one-one meetings with cabinet minister.
Another 492 million is expected to be earmarked for digitization and IT projects.
Despite the increase in expenditures the budget deficit should not exceed 40 billion crowns.
According to the finance minister, higher spending will be made possible by the new macroeconomic forecast and savings in state debt payments.