The jobless rate in the Czech Republic hit an all-time high in January, when it increased to 8.6 percent from 8.2 percent in December 2013, the Employment Office said Monday. The number of unemployed reached 629,274 at the end of January, which is 32,441 more than at the end of 2013. Despite the mild winter, unemployment was affected by the suspension of seasonal work in construction, agriculture and forestry. A moderate decrease in unemployment can be expected in the second half of this year, when economic revival should influence the labour market.
Czech biathlete Ondrej Moravec won the silver at the men’s biathlon 12.5k pursuit at the 2014 Winter Olympics on Monday with a time of 34:02.7. The gold went to Martin Fourcade from France who covered the track in a record 33:48.6. Third place went to Jean Guillaume Beatrix (France) 34:12.8. Moravec has given the Czech Republic its third medal at the Sochi Olympics.
The parties of the ruling centre-left coalition have finalized their policy programme statement on the basis of which they will seek a vote of confidence in the lower house on February 18th. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka on Monday distributed copies of the policy statement to his coalition partners ANO and the Christian Democrats, ahead of a tripartite meeting at which they are to discuss the document with trade unions and employers. The cabinet is to meet on Wednesday to give the policy statement its final approval.
Czech Foreign MInister Lubomír Zaorálek likewise expressed concern over the outcome of the Swiss referendum on curbing migration in which a narrow majority of participants backed a proposal to impose quotas on newcomers to the country. Mr. Zaorálek said this was in violation of the principles of the Schengen travel-free space and not a good development for Europe. While Switzerland is not an EU member, it is closely integrated with the union and is a part of the Schengen space. The European Commission has said it regrets the outcome of the Swiss vote and would need to review the impact on overall relations between Switzerland and the EU.
The great Italian composer of film scores, Ennio Morricone, performed to a sold-out crowd at Prague’s O2 Arena on Sunday night. The seated audience of 12,000 gave Morricone, 85, a standing ovation at the end of a two-hour performance that featured many of his most famous composition from movies such as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in America and The Untouchables.
Snowboarder Šárka Pančochová, regarded as one of the Czech Republic’s medal hopefuls before Sochi, finished fifth on Sunday in the slopestyle event, which was this year included in the Winter Olympics for the first time. Pančochová’s helmet was broken when she fell after badly while attempting a complicated 540 frontside jump.
Members of Danish school groups currently spending their term break in Prague are being given armbands indicating their age in order to prevent them being served alcohol if they are minors, Tomáš Hulan, a spokesperson for the Prague police, said on Sunday. Danish youths drank heavily, got into fights and destroyed hotel rooms at this time last year, with around 30 ending up in hospital. Danish police officers have come to Prague to help their local colleagues keep the teens in line. Students who are under 18 and take off their designated armbands with a view to deceiving bar staff would receive police attention, said Officer Hulan.
The Czech speed skater Martina Sáblíková has taken the silver medal in the women’s 3000m at the Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi. The 26-year-old, who won gold at that distance at the last Games in Vancouver four years ago was only bettered on Sunday by Ireen Wuest of the Netherlands, the winner in Turin in 2006. Sáblíková’s success means the Czechs now have two medals, after Jaroslav Soukup’s bronze in the biathlon 10km sprint on Saturday.
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, says he aims to fill vacant ambassadorial posts as soon as possible. He made the comments on a TV debate show on Sunday. The Czech Republic is currently lacking 11 ambassadors while the terms of another 32 are due to end before the end of this year. Mr. Zaorálek refused to rule out the possibility of Jan Fischer, a former interim prime minister and interim finance minister, becoming Czech envoy to Luxembourg. Mr. Fischer was for two years vice-president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is based in the country.
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