The Social Democrats voted down a proposal to repeal a resolution that prohibits the party from creating a governing coalition with the Communist Party. Although the proposal received the support of only nine delegates at the party congress, the party’s chairman Bohuslav Sobotka has indicated in the past that he would consider forming a minority government with the support of the communists. The largest opposition party is currently expected to win the next parliamentary elections.
A plaque commemorating former Czechoslovak president and general Ludvík Svoboda was unveiled in his hometown of Hroznatín in the Vysočina region on Saturday. A few hundred people attended the ceremony to commemorate soldiers of the First Czechoslovak Army Corp, which Svoboda commanded and which fought alongside the Soviet Red Army on the Eastern Front during World War Two. This week marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the battle of Sokolovo, during which Soviet and Czechoslovak troops were able to stop the German army’s advance into eastern Ukraine.
Speaking in front of the delegates at the Social Democratic congress on Saturday morning, the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said that in the case of victory in the 2014 parliamentary elections, the Czech Social Democrats should consider forming a government without other parties, as his own party Smer decided to do after the 2012 elections. The Smer chairman emphasized that in order to overcome the current crisis, Europe needs to ascribe more to true social democratic values.
Viktoria Plzeň have been knocked out of the Europa League, the continent’s second-tier club competition, in the last 16 stage. The Czech club went into Thursday night’s game against Fenerbahce trailing 1:0 from the home leg in West Bohemia last week. After the Turkish side took the lead in the first half in Istanbul, Plzeň managed to get one back through a Vladimír Darida strike on 61 minutes to give themselves some hope of advancing. However, they were unable to find the net again and the second leg ended 1:1, giving Fenerbahce a 2:1 win on aggregate.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has no news of two Czech tourists who had been kidnapped in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan, a spokeswoman for the ministry said. The ministry has set up a crisis team to deal with the situation but has received no concrete information from Pakistani authorities of the whereabouts of the two women, or who could have kidnapped them. Friends and family of the abducted Czech travellers have meanwhile set up an internet website in their support.
MP David Rath, who has been in police custody since last May on corruption charges, remains in detention after the prosecutors filed an appeal against a Prague court ruling to release him on a two-million-crown bail. The appeal will be heard by an appellate court in the coming weeks. David Rath, a former influential Social Democrat and governor of Central Bohemia, was arrested in May 2012 with seven million crowns of what the police believe was a bribe. He is facing 11 years in jail for bribery and abuse of power.
Army general Vlastimil Picek is set to become the country’s new defense minister, according to government sources cited by the CTK news agency. The former army chief of staff, who currently serves as deputy defence minister, is a widely respected expert in the field though his appointment to the post is vehemently opposed by the smallest party in government LIDEM which wanted a civilian to lead the Czech Defence Ministry. Prime Minister Petr Nečas has strongly advocated the general’s appointment and has reportedly won over the TOP 09 party for the idea. The coalition had come under fire both from the military and from opposition benches for procrastinating in filling the crucial government post which has been vacant for some three months.
The Czech police on Friday closed down border crossings between the Czech Republic and Slovakia for heavy trucks heading to Hungary and Slovenia due to poor weather conditions in those countries. Heavy snow and strong winds are complicating traffic on Slovenian and Hungarian roads. A police spokeswoman said it was not clear when the border crossings would re-open.
President Miloš Zeman addressed the Social Democrat party conference in Ostrava on Friday. In his 20-minute speech, the president said that if the Social Democrats win the next general election, they should form a one-party government. Mr Zeman also said that as president, he was non-partisan but as a citizen, he wished the party victory at the polls. In his much anticipated address, President Zeman, himself a former Social Democrat leader, also rejected the idea he would use his influence to split the party over a conflict that made him leave the Social Democrats in 2007. President Zeman received standing ovations from the congress during his address.
The troubled Czech truck maker Tatra was sold at an auction on Friday, three weeks after the firm was declared bankrupt. The company was acquired for 176 million crowns, or around 9 million US dollars, by a newly-established firm, Truck Development, which is financed by the investment group J&T. Tatra’s assets have been established at 1.76 billion crowns while its commitments reached 1.5 billion crowns. Tatra CEO, Ronald Adams, welcomed the news and said the change in ownership would solve the firm’s financial difficulties.