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.
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.
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 two biggest parties in the coalition government, the Social Democrats and ANO, are at loggerheads over who to nominate for the post of the Czech Republic’s European Union commissioner, iDnes.cz reported. ANO is pushing Pavel Telička, who was briefly an EU commissioner in the period after the Czech Republic joined the bloc in 2004. The Social Democrats have rejected Telička’s nomination but have not yet put forward a candidate of their own. iDnes.cz suggested that the new government, which is pro-European, would prefer a more distinctive EU commissioner than the Czech Republic’s current representative, Štefan Fülle.
The Czech Republic presently has the worst record in drawing of EU funds of the entire 27-member block, the Czech Minister for Regional Development Věra Jourová told journalists following Monday’s cabinet meeting. Ms. Jourová said that in the period between 2007 and 2013 the Czech Republic had placed bottom of the EU list due to a lack of know-how in securing grants and a reputation of abusing funds. Last year alone the country failed to draw the equivalent of 10 billion crowns of potentially available money, out of an overall 16 billion left untapped. The minister said that this year the Czech Republic could fail to draw as much as 24 billion crowns, with the biggest problems at the environment and education ministries.
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.
The Czech Republic’s Fed Cup team will have to complete their first round tie against Spain on Monday, after rain caused complications in Seville. Only one rubber, in the singles, was played on Saturday and Sunday, with the Czechs’ Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová losing to Clara Suarez. The leading Czech women’s player Petra Kvitová pulled out due to illness.
Over 1,000 people watched a free live screening of Antonín Dvořák’s Rusalka live from the New York Metropolitan Opera on a Prague square on Saturday evening. Rusalka was the first Czech opera to feature in the popular series, which is beamed to cinemas and other venues around the world. A spokesperson for the company that runs such projections in the Czech Republic, Aerofilms, said the technical quality of the screening on Náměstí Republiky was below that achievable in a cinema but that they had attempted to create the best possible conditions for the open air event.
A senior Christian Democrat says the leaders of his party, the Social Democrats and ANO should meet early next week to discuss a joint position on a Communist-tabled vote to remove a law preventing those who collaborated with the pre-1989 secret police from holding high office. Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka said on a TV debate show on Sunday that the other parties in the government had promised his Christian Democrats they would seek to preserve the current legislation. However, the Social Democrats and ANO have said they will not instruct their deputies on how to vote on the matter. The Christian Democrats said on Friday they would quit the coalition – which is set to seek confidence on February 18 – if the bill made it into a second reading.
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