A general referendum could be called by obtaining 250,000 signatures, under a bill proposed by the Minister for Human Rights Jiří Dienstbier. The decisions made in a referendum could only take effect with 25 percent voter turnout. Mr Dienstbier told the journalists on Wednesday that the bill would allow citizens to vote on “crucial issues of domestic and foreign state policy”. The draft bill also lists issues on which people would not be allowed to vote, such as introduction of death penalty. The bill, which is likely to pass in parliament, could come into effect as of January 2016.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday approved the draft of a new civil service law. The government has won support for the bill by taking on board opposition demands, including dropping a provision to create a top civil servant whose office would control the entire system. The new bill also includes a provision under which every minister would have at most two deputies who are political appointees, which was repeatedly criticised by president Miloš Zeman. The president warned MPs that he would take the civil bill to the Constitutional Court if they push the legislation through despite his previously signalled veto.
The Czech Republic’s Minister for Regional Development Věra Jourová, whom the Czech government nominated for EU commissioner, will be heading the portfolio of Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker unveiled his team on Wednesday on the Commissions’ website. Ms Jourová, who is ANO’s deputy chairwoman, was aspiring to head the European regional development portfolio. Finance Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš said that the Justice portfolio was a disappointment. Ms Jourová will be the fourth Czech in the European Commission after Pavel Telička, Vladimír Špidla and Štefan Fulle.
The body of the nine-year old girl, who went missing on Tuesday in Klášterec nad Ohří, was found dead on the outskirts of the town. Police are now investigating the scene of the crime. The parents of the girl called the police on Tuesday afternoon when she didn’t return from school. The girl’s mother wrote on her Facebook profile that she was allegedly seen walking with an unknown man. The police have not released any information related to the cause of her death.
Two people died and six were injured in a bus crash on Wednesday, which happened near the town of Planá nad Lužnicí in the south of the country. In the crash, the bus struck a railway pole and caught fire. Five people, one of them seriously injured, were taken to hospital. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter will pay a one-day visit to the Czech Republic on Wednesday. He is to meet for talks with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek. The Swiss president will also address the 22nd OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum which is due to open in Prague on Wednesday.
The Czech national football team defeated Netherlands 2:1 in Prague on Tuesday night, in the opening game of their Euro 2016 qualification. The Czechs went ahead in the 22nd minute with a nice shot by Bořek Dočkal but the visitors equalized some 10 minutes into the second half. However, an overtime goal by Václav Pilař secured a full three points for the Czech team which scored an important win in their Euro 2016 campaign.
The head of the Czech branch of Doctors Without Borders Pavel Gruber has appealed on the Czech government to send experts to ebola stricken countries. In an open letter to the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, Mr. Gruber says that the developed countries should do more to help stop the spread of the disease by helping to build isolation facilities, mobile labs and sending its experts to ebola-stricken areas. Similar appeals have been made to other European governments.
Czech expats from around the world will gather in Prague on Wednesday for a two-day conference on maintaining their native language skills abroad. Expat communities abroad have a strong tradition in maintaining their cultural and linguistic heritage and the Czech language is taught at a network of Czech Schools without Borders, the first of which were established in the 1930s. The two-day event, held at the National Museum building in the center of Prague, was co-organized by expats’ associations, the Czech Foreign Ministry and Czech Radio.
On the second day of his state visit to France, President Milos Zeman was received by President Francoise Hollande. The Czech head of state said he hoped to see a renaissance in bilateral ties both on a political and economic level. He expressed regret that this was the first visit to Paris by a Czech head of state in eleven years. The two leaders expressed support for a joint economic forum which would revitalize business ties and President Hollande accepted an invitation to visit Prague. On Wednesday President Zeman is to meet with Prime Minister Manuel Valls.
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