Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan is to pay a three day state visit to the Czech Republic at the invitation of Czech President Milos Zeman. President Sargsyan is due to arrive in Prague on Wednesday for a series of talks with top officials and will attend a state dinner held at Prague Castle in his honour on Thursday night. The two heads of state are expected to discuss bilateral ties and investment and trade opportunities. The Armenian president last visited the Czech capital in 2009 when the Czech capital hosted an EU summit focussing on the Eastern partnership project.
The Višegrad Group states should coordinate their foreign policy and push for an end to the violence in Ukraine, incoming prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists in Prague. Mr. Sobotka said the crisis in Ukraine would send repercussions across central Europe and it was important to act without delay in pushing for a democratic solution to the conflict. The best and most democratic solution would obviously be early elections, Mr. Sobotka said, adding that he had received information that a summit of the Visegrad Group – Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic – was being organized. Mr. Sobotka also announced that his first foreign trip in office would lead to neigbouring Slovakia.
Tennis star Tomáš Berdych has joined the Czech Davis Cup team in Ostrava ahead of a first round tie with the Netherlands in the city next weekend. Berdych flew to the Czech Republic from Australia, where he reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time. The world number seven is considering whether to quit the Davis Cup team after the Czech Republic won the competition twice in a row. He said on Monday that he hoped to help the Czechs to a tenth straight win in the competition and then would “see”.
Czech hospitals have a lack of organ donors which is limiting the number of life-saving transplants undertaken, the ctk news agency reports. According to Eva Pokorna, a chief transplant surgeon at Prague’s IKEM heart clinic, this is largely because hospitals are unable to spare the finances to employ specially trained staff who would manage the agenda and negotiate the issue with the families of potential donors. According to Czech law it is the duty of individual doctors to broach the subject with relatives and they often lack the time and space to do so. Last year IKEM conducted 50 heart transplants and there are 114 others on the waiting list. The Czech Republic is half-way down a list of European organ donors with 19 organ donors per 1 million inhabitants as compared to Croatia which tops the list with 36 donors.
The Bulgarian energy regulator has fined Czech energy distributor Energo-Pro 3.7 million crowns for allegedlz abusing its dominant position on the market. The company has not yet commented on the development. Energo-Pro received two fines on the same grounds last year. The Czech firms CEZ and Energo-Pro as well as Austria's EVN, which distribute electricity in Bulgaria, came under severe scrutiny last year following mass protests over high electricity bills. The Bulgarian energy watchdog launched an audit into pricing but failed to find grounds on which to revoke the company’s licenses.
The Ministry of the Environment hugely increased its spending on consultancy and legal services during a period when it was helmed by Civic Democrat minister Tomáš Chalupa, the Supreme Audit Office said on Monday. The ministry spent CZK 48 million on such services in 2012, twice as much as the previous year, the agency said. A current spokesperson for the ministry said savings had been made on salaries under Mr. Chalupa and that the consultants had been hired to carry out checks on an environmental operational programme, which channels EU funding. Among the Supreme Audit Office’s findings was that the Ministry of the Environment spent over CZK 110,000 on around 70 frames for photographs.
People in the Moravia-Silesia Region have been warned to avoid going outside unnecessarily because of poor air quality. The dust in the air in the eastern region was three or more times the legal limit on Monday morning. The worst affected spot is the Frýdek-Místek area, where a measuring station recorded 187 microgrammes of particles per cubic metre. The situation is also bad in Český Těšín, with 180 microgrammes per cubic metre registered. An industrial area of the country, Moravia-Silesia frequently suffers from poor air quality, particularly in the winter months.
Andrej Babiš, who will be named Czech deputy prime minister and minister of finance on Wednesday, says the day after he is appointed he will travel to his native Slovakia to give court testimony in a slander action he has taken against allegations he collaborated with the secret police in the communist era. The billionaire businessman, whose ANO party came second in elections in October, made the comments in an interview with Monday’s Právo. Mr. Babiš said he would be criticised if he did not go to Bratislava for the hearing. He reiterated his claim that he never collaborated with the StB, adding that the files of the secret police’s biggest agents had been shredded immediately after the Velvet Revolution.
Much of the Czech Republic has been hit by snow, with road transport impacted in many parts of the country. Approximately 120 gritting trucks were out in force on Monday in the Central Bohemia region alone, while the police attributed 40 traffic accidents in Prague to the difficult conditions. Nevertheless, major roads around the Czech Republic were passable on Monday afternoon.
Councillors in the Plzeň Region have elected Václav Šlajs of the Social Democrats governor. The position became vacant when his party colleague Milan Chovanec was chosen to become minister of the interior in the new Czech government. Around 2,800 people signed a petition objecting to Mr. Šlajs’s nomination on the grounds that the 61-year-old was a member of the Communist Party and an army officer before 1989 and dozens of people protested during Monday’s regional council session. Mr. Chovanec said his successor, who joined the Social Democrats in 1993, should be judged on his achievements.
Over 1,000 skeletons discovered during renovation of Kutná Hora “bone church”
Language exams for foreigners seeking permanent residency permit to become tougher
Why are Russian and Chinese spying activities in Czech Republic so intense and how exactly do they do it?
Prague’s historical Koh-i-noor factory to be converted into residential area
Gunman kills six patients in Ostrava hospital, two more fighting for their lives