Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka says that after the signing of a coalition agreement on a new centre-left government on Monday it will be up to the president to make the next step. In an interview for Czech Television on Sunday, Mr. Sobotka said that the ball was now in the president’s court and the logical next step would be for President Zeman to appoint him prime minister. Should the president have legitimate reservations to any of the ministerial nominees, Mr. Sobotka said he would be prepared to take office and temporarily administrate their portfolios as well until a new candidate was agreed on. However he stressed that he would only be prepared to make changes on the list of nominees for legally justifiable reasons, not personal animosities.
The largest producer of sparkling wines in the Czech Republic Bohemia Sekt, is planning to expand its vineyards. A company spokesman said Bohemia Sekt was ready to invest 100 million crowns into the expansion with the idea of spreading out from the present 400 hectares to at least 600 by the year 2020. Bohemia Sekt already ranks among the biggest vineyard owners in the country and has been fast expanding. In 2011 it owned just 240 hectares. In 2013 it sold 24 million bottles of wine.
TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg has called for greater public responsibility for the future of the country. In a speech delivered on Three Kings Day, Mr. Schwarzenberg said that in the past year certain groups and individuals had tested and sometimes crossed the limits of their powers in a democratic state and it was disconcerting that the public had reacted with apathy and disinterest to this threat. The TOP 09 leader said he realized that people had good reason to be disenchanted with Czech politics, as he himself often was, but he said the only way to affect a moral rebirth was for the public to be more aware and take greater responsibility for the fate of democracy in the country.
Hundreds of people turned out on Sunday to see the traditional procession of Three Kings - a re-enactment of the journey of the Three Wise Men to visit the infant Jesus – which annually marks the end of the Christmas festivities in Prague. The procession made its way from Prague Castle to the nearby Loretto Square, where a live nativity scene had been set up. The event is organized by the Prague Archdiocese and is traditionally linked to charity with children dressed as the three kings collecting money for the needy. This year they collected a record amount of 77 million crowns.
Twelve illegal weapons, among them pistols and submachine guns, were uncovered during a search of the Palestinian ambassador’s new residence in Prague shortly after his death in an explosion on Wednesday, Police President Martin Červíček told Czech Television. He said a ballistic expertise was now underway. The police had previously refused to specify the number of weapons found, leading to speculation that there may have been up to 70 illegal weapons on the premises.
A baby palm cockatoo –also known as the Goliath Cockatoo – born in Prague Zoo in October is reported to have died. The zoo’s spokesman said the cause of death was as yet unclear. The scruffy-looking chick, which was the first of its kind born in Europe since 2010, had become a hit on social networks and the zoo had plans to put its picture on PR gifts such as coffee mugs and T-shirts. Its death is said to be a huge disappointment.
A number of business leaders nominated for ministerial posts in the emerging centre-left coalition government will have to give up their posts at the head of successful companies, the internet news site novinky.cz writes. The paper says this concerns predominantly candidates for the ANO party which prides itself on nominating successful managers to top posts rather than seasoned politicians. Under the conflict of interests law members of government cannot run private businesses or sit on the executive board of companies. For instance ANO leader Andrej Babis will have to cut his ties to AGROFERT, his agricultural, chemical and food processing empire said to be worth 40 to 100 billion crowns.
Labour Ministry officials and representatives of the firm Fujitsu Technology Solutions are to meet on Monday to debate the legal implications of the decision to shut down the welfare payments system which the company had provided since 2012. The company won a contract on running the system but the Czech anti-monopoly regulator last year cancelled the tender over breach of rules. Labour offices are now struggling to deliver payments using a previous, now-outdated system and the Labour Ministry says Fujitsu had no reason to act rashly since its system could have remained in operation on the grounds of an addendum to the contract signed. The Labour Ministry has warned that thousands of people could get their welfare contributions late.
The Czech foreign ministry has expressed grave concerned over the discovery. It said diplomats' weapons were subject to local laws on arms which require registration and licensing and none of those found were registered in the Czech Republic. For the embassy to store illegal weapons would be in breach of the Vienna Convention that governs the activities of diplomats and embassies and the Czech Foreign Ministry has said it would demand an explanation. It has also expressed understanding for a request from the Suchdol district which has asked the authorities to move the Palestinian embassy outside its premises since it presents a security threat to the public.
As of this year Czech producers will have to use bigger print and put more information on food labels than they have hereto. The change is in line with EU regulations and there is a fine of up to 10 million crowns for violating it. Some producers have complained that in view of the size of some products they will have to add folded leaflets to them containing the information or restrict the number of language versions on the labels.
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Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’