Unusually mild weather in the Czech Republic will be interrupted by a brief drop in temperature. Thursday and Friday this week should see maximum daily highs between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius in lower laying areas and around zero degrees in the mountains, meteorologists said. Fresh snow is also expected. However, conditions are expected to grow mild again at the weekend.
A government plane departed from Prague’s Kbely military airport on Wednesday, headed for Lebanon, where five Czechs who were allegedly abducted last July were freed this week. The men, questioned by the Lebanese authorities, are likely to return home on Thursday. Health care personnel, police officers and other experts will be aboard. Some Lebanese and Czech media have suggested that the release of the five was a diplomatic deal in the form of their swap for Lebanese national Ali Fayad – an alleged collaborator of the Lebanese secret services detained in the Czech Republic. The foreign minister suggested only that no deal had been struck with those behind the abductions.
The Municipal Court this week rejected a legal complaint by Prague 7 residents who had hoped to block the construction of a shopping and administrative complex on Veletržní Street. The news was released by Václav Matoušek, the head of the firm behind the development project, the British firm Lordship. Permit has been given for construction to begin on lower parking levels of the site but questions remain over the building above ground. The matter is currently being negotiated with the local administration. The local city hall has charged the firm had not met all terms agreed in a contract signed with the previous administration. City Hall has been against the project long-term, as the site was meant to include a memorial and new apartments. The firm had threatened to take the matter to arbitration court but its boss has suggested some headway in talks has been made.
The Czech Republic and Iran are hoping to cooperate more closely in the area of nuclear safety and a meeting between both countries nuclear energy watchdog authorities is planned for later this year, Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Eduard Muřický said at a seminar on Wednesday discussing possibilities of trade with Iran after the lifting of economic sanctions. Czech State Nuclear Safety Authority chairwoman Dana Drábová confirmed to ČTK that a meeting with Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, is being planned. No definite date has been set. Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek issued an invitation to Salehi during his visit to Iran in January. In September last year, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek visited Iran in the accompaniment of a business mission. Czech business representatives may also find opportunities in Iran in the area of mining of raw materials, the petrochemical industry, engineering and aircraft industry, Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Tlapa said at Wednesday's seminar.
The independent Czech energy regulator has suffered a blow with the departure of another of its deputy chairman. Martin Laštůvska’s resignation from the authority was announced for health reasons on Wednesday. In mid-January another deputy chairman, Jan Nehoda, was dismissed from his post. He took it upon himself to sign through a stalled 42 billion crown package of subsidies for renewables in 2016 which the ERU head, Alena Vitásková, had been blocking on the grounds it had not been cleared by Brussels authorities. Nehoda originally replaced another top official who stepped down on health grounds.
A new poll released by the STEM agency suggests that seven out of ten Czechs want the head of state Miloš Zeman to remain critical of the government as well as political parties. But two-fifths, according to the poll, feel that Mr Zeman influences daily politics too much. Even as a candidate Mr Zeman, a former prime minister, promised he would be more hands-on and more vocal than his predecessors when it came to the political scene. As president, Mr Zeman has criticized the current government, for example, for its failure to more effectively draw European funds. The president and the prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, have also clashed in the media. Most recently, the president shocked many with a joke in which he described the Kalashnikov as a non-democratic means of getting rid of the premier.
The Czech ministries for foreign affairs and labour and social affairs will aim to be a party to proceedings in a court case in Norway involving children taken from their Czech mother by the country’s child welfare service. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek told reporters he would present the plan to the government on Wednesday. Eva Michaláková’s two sons (born in 2005 and 2008) were taken away from her in 2011 on the suspicion of abuse and neglect. Details of the case were never made public to protect the children. But last autumn, the Norwegian authorities stripped Michaláková of her parental rights and put the younger boy up for adoption. Foreign Minister Zaorálek explained the Czech Republic would make use of Norwegian legislation allowing public entities to enter court proceedings. A Norwegian court is to deal with the mother's appeal in February.
The Centre for Documentation of Totalitarian Regimes has released a collection of radio speeches of the veteran writer, politician and broadcaster Pavel Tigrid, aired on Radio Free Europe at the beginning of the 1950s. The book will be presented on Wednesday at the Academia bookshop on Prague’s Wenceslas Square by culture minister Daniel Herman and former Radio Free Europe reporter Petr Brod. Pavel Tigrid established and for a number of years headed the Czechoslovak section of Radio Free Europe. He subsequently moved to Paris, where he set up and published a magazine called Svědectví. After 1989, he returned to Czechoslovakia where he worked as a Minister for Culture and later as an adviser to President Václav Havel. Tigrid died in 2003.
The Czech Republic has jumped three places on the Index of Economic Freedom, reaching the 21st position among the 178 countries included on the list. The country’s economic freedom score for 2015 is 73.2 out of a maximum 100, which is its best score ever. The Index of Economic Freedom was introduced in 1995 by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. According to the assessment, Hong Kong is the most economically free country, while North Korea was placed at the bottom of the ladder.
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