The minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, will represent the Czech Republic at the inauguration of Petro Poroshenko as Ukrainian president in Kiev on Saturday, an official at his ministry said on Thursday. President Miloš Zeman will not be attending due to work commitments. The Czech head of state met Mr. Poroshenko in Warsaw this week at events marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in Poland. He had already invited the Ukrainian president-elect to Prague.
The great British rock guitar player Jeff Beck played a concert on the terrace of the Riding School of Prague Castle on Wednesday night. The eight-time Grammy winner, who is 70, performed a mainly instrumental set taking in a number of genres from blues to jazz fusion with a three-piece band. An estimated 1,200 fans attended the seated show at the sold-out venue, which started hosting occasional outdoor live music events last summer.
An audit ordered by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš of the six ministries controlled by his ANO party has found a great number of shortcomings related to contracts signed in the past. At a news conference on Thursday, Deputy Finance Minister Lukáš Wagenknecht said CZK 16 billion in invoices were linked to contracts that were, for instance, over 15 years old, exceeded their original parameters, or were with companies that had no employees or were in liquidation. Mr. Wagenknecht said it would be possible to make savings of nearly CZK 230 million a year very quickly.
The governing coalition Christian Democrats and the opposition TOP 09 have formed a joint Czech delegation as part of the European People’s Party group at the European Parliament. The group is headed by Luděk Niedermayer, a former vice governor of the Czech National Bank, who stood for TOP 09 in elections last month. It has seven members, four from TOP 09 and three from the Christian Democrats; this makes it the eighth biggest national delegation in the EPP, which is the largest party in the European Parliament.
Football clubs Dynamo České Budějovice and FC Hradec Králové have bounced back into the top tier of Czech football after a year in division one. The south Bohemian club ensured its promotion with a 6:0 thrashing of Tábor on Wednesday night. Hradec Králové had a more modest 1:0 victory against Pardubice. Dynamo České Budějovice’s general manager is former Czech international and club player Karel Poborský.
The Dutch film ‘Boys’ directed by Mischa Kamp picked up the most awards at the International Film Festival for Children and Youth in Zlín on Wednesday evening. The film, which recounts the awakening of homosexual desires in two teenagers training for a national relay race, It won four awards at the festival with the main actor Gijs Blom picking up the prize for best young actor. The Czech film ‘To See the Sea’ by director Jiří Mádl picked up two awards among the other winners.
A representative of Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has described it as very sad that the Czech government has switched its stand with regard to the country occupied by China and support for human rights and freedom. On a visit to Prague, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, who is is second placed in the exiled parliament, said the Czech government should have continued its former support for Tibet. He added though that what counted was the support of people not governments. Tenphel, who was invited to the Czech Republic by the Václav Havel Library, said that pressure should be maintained on Chinese leaders to try and safeguard some remnants of Tibetan culture and freedom which were under continuous attack. Former Czech president Havel was a vocal supporter of Tibet. The current Czech government has dropped its former criticism of China over the occupation of Tibet and the ongoing situation there.
The ANO party has opened up an almost 10 percent point lead on the second-placed Social Democrats in the opinion polls according to the results of one survey released on Wednesday. The poll by the STEM agency gave ANO support from 27.5 percent of those questioned. The Social Democrats scored 18 percent with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia in third place with 13.5 percent and centre-right TOP 09 in fourth with 9.8 percent. The Christian Democrats, Dawn Party, and Civic Democrats would all pass the five percent threshold to get into the lower house of parliament according to the poll carried out between May 20 and 27. The latest poll is in line with others putting ANO out in front for voter preferences.
President Zeman has weighed into the debate about Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s comments that he saw no need for more NATO troops in Europe. The head of state said he regarded Sobotka’s comments as a ‘mistake’ and any increase of US troops in Europe would be symbolic and would not bother him. The head of state pointed out that Sobotka did not have much experience of foreign affairs and would have to learn from his mistakes. The Czech prime minister’s comments followed US president Barack Obama’s pledge in Warsaw on Tuesday to commit more troops to Central and Eastern Europe in response to tensions in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. President Zeman is also in Warsaw to mark the 25 anniversary of free elections which presaged the fall of the Communist regime.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has been fined 10,000 crowns for allowing finance minister Andrej Babiš into the government without proof that he did not have an incriminating past from the era of former communist Czechoslovakia. The fine was decided by officials at Prague 1 district council. The government said in a statement Wednesday that Sobotka disagreed with the verdict and would appeal against it in the near future. One of the grounds of appeal is the argument that government ministers are not subject to the so called lustration process. Babiš is currently involved in a court battle with a Slovak archive and historical institute over allegations he was recruited as a communist secret police agent.
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