Speaking shortly after Friday’s appointment ceremony, Mr. Sobotka said his first foreign trip as prime minister would be to the neighbouring state of Slovakia. Since the breakup of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Czech leaders have traditionally made Slovakia their first port of call as regards international visits.
The leadership of the Social Democrats have selected left-wing sociologist and newspaper columnist Jan Keller as the party’s campaign leader for elections to the European Parliament in May. Other party bodies have to approve the candidacy of Mr. Keller, who is backed by chairman Bohuslav Sobotka. The academic’s areas of expertise are globalisation, social issues and the environment.
During Friday’s naming ceremony at Prague Castle, President Zeman wished Mr. Sobotka success in forming a “professional team based on expert knowledge and life experience”. Mr. Zeman is set to hold individual meetings with the prime minister designate’s ministerial candidates in the coming weeks and has said he could name a new government by the end of the month. However, he has raised questions over the suitability of a number of cabinet nominees.
The son of former president Václav Klaus is to quit as director of Prague’s PORG private secondary school, Tyden.cz reported. The news website said that Václav Klaus Jr. was stepping down after 15 years at the well-known school due to a dispute with Martin Roman, the former boss of power giant CEZ who is its main sponsor and chairman of its executive board. The two have reportedly clashed over the institution’s direction, teacher appraisals and pupil selection procedures.
The Social Democrats’ human rights and family spokeswoman Michaela Marksová Tominová is in the frame to become minister of labour and social affairs in the emerging Czech government. The party’s leaders selected her after their previous nominee withdrew citing family tragedy. The Social Democrats are set to have eight seats in the next cabinet, alongside ANO with six and the Christian Democrats with three.
President Miloš Zeman on Friday appointed Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats prime minister. The move came 83 days after October’s elections to the lower house, the longest gap between a vote and the appointment of a prime minister since the foundation of the Czech Republic. The country now has two prime ministers, with an interim cabinet installed by Mr. Zeman and headed by Jiří Rusnok set to continue running the country until an elected government is appointed.
Tomáš Berdych has reached the fourth round at the Australian Open in Melbourne. The Czech, who is seeded seventh, beat Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia 6-4 6-2 6-2 on Friday to set up a meeting with Kevin Anderson of South Africa for a place in the quarter-finals. Berdych is the last Czech singles player at the Australian Open after Lucie Šafářová lost 6-1 6-7 3-6 to fourth-seeded Li Na of China in the third round.
A man suspected of being the head of a so-called “spirits mafia” trading in illegal booze offered a police officer a CZK 10 million bribe, police said on Friday. They accused Radek Březina of making the offer during questioning last year and said he had also attempted to bribe witnesses with tens of millions of crowns. The police made the statements during a news conference in the Moravian city of Olomouc presenting information on an operation this week in which 15 people were charged with illegal trading in spirits. The gang cost the state at least CZK 3 billion in lost tax revenues, police said.
The Czech Chamber of Commerce faces allegations of fraud over applications for EU funds. The European Anti-Fraud Office, or OLAF, found that the Chamber falsified the signatures of people who it said would work on the administration of EU grants and also submitted fake declarations to secure funding, Czech Radio reported quoting sources in Brussels. The Czech Chamber of Commerce has appealed against OLAF’s findings but said it would fully cooperate in the investigations. The European Commission has also criticized the Chamber’s role in supervising a Czech programme encouraging the take up of research and innovation which provided funding to several of its member companies.
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