Polish President Andrzej Duda arrived in Prague on Monday for an official two-day visit, during which he will meet with his Czech counterpart Miloš Zeman, the country’s Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, and the heads of both houses of Parliament. Monday evening will see a special reception at the Polish Embassy in Prague; the official segment of the president’s visit begins at Prague Castle on Tuesday morning. Topics to be discussed by the heads of state include cooperation between the countries of the Visegrad Four, and the migration crisis, President Zeman's spokesman Jiří Ovčáček confirmed.
The documentary A Syrian Love Story by filmmaker Sean McAllister has been awarded the top prize at the One World festival of Human Rights documentaries. The film tells the story of a Syrian couple who met when jailed by the Assad regime, later forced to flee the country with their children. The award for best direction went to Zhao Liang for the film Behemoth, set in Chinese mines. The news was confirmed by the festival’s Tereza Hronová.
More than 2,500 foreign nationals work as doctors in the Czech Republic, Czech Medical Chamber head Milan Kubek said on Monday, pointing out the number was five times higher than in 1989. The head of the chamber expressed the opinion that doctors from abroad were not always as qualified as their Czech counterparts. Last week the chamber called on the government to prepare an emergency action plan to help save the Czech health sector, which suffers a lack of staff in many hospitals. Last year, 209 doctors found work abroad immediately after completing their studies, while 357 asked the Medical Chamber for documentation required to work abroad. In all, Kubek said, 400 Czech doctors left last year for work in English- or German-speaking countries. Foreign nationals working in the Czech health sector include doctors from Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. The Czech Medical Chamber has been pushing for significant wage increases to help stem the flow of doctors to better paid jobs elsewhere.
After Radek Faksa of the Dallas Stars, Tomáš Nosek of the Detroit Red Wings, Jakub Nakládal of the Calgary Flames, Colorado goalie Roman Will, Dominik Simon became the fifth Czech rookie to make his NHL debut this year. The player, who had been playing well with the club’s farm team (the WBS Penguins) was called up by the Pittsburgh Penguins against the New York Rangers. The Pens won the game 5:3, with Simon getting an assist.
Trust in the European Union and the European Parliament by Czechs has dropped to a record low, according to a new poll released by the STEM agency. The survey suggests that just 29 percent of Czechs have confidence in the union and just 24 percent in the European Parliament; some 55 percent are favourable towards the United Nations and 52 percent towards NATO. STEM has gauged Czech ties to the European Union since 1994; then, the numbers were between 50 to 60 percent.
Norway will open a new bureau in July aiming to cooperate with the Czech Republic in cases where children are taken away from their Czech parents by the Norwegian authorities. In cases where parents lose their parental rights, the children are to be returned to the Czech Republic, news website aktualne.cz writes. But the new conditions will not be retroactive. The most high profile Czech case in Norway is that of Eva Michaláková, whose sons were taken away by the Barnevernet social service and later put up for adoption; a court had been due to consider an appeal by the mother in February.
Sales in Czech retail trade in January, not counting the automotive sector, fell to 4.6 percent year-on-year compared to 6.7 percent in December 2015. The figures were released by the Czech Statistics Office on Monday. Czech consumers spent significantly more online, an increase of 15.4 percent year-on-year, while retail sales of food and fuel also increased. By contrast, consumers spent less on pharmaceutical items and medical goods. Prices decreased year-on-year in the categories of fuel, food and computers. Higher prices were registered in the categories of culture, sports and recreation, clothing and footwear and pharmaceutical and medical goods.
The Czech Republic is ready to support a broadening of sanctions against Russia to include Russian nationals involved in the persecution of imprisoned Ukrainian pilot Nadyia Savchenko, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has said. Arriving in Brussels on Monday for an EU meeting, he called the case against the pilot “abhorrent and prefabricated”. The Czech foreign minister made clear it was necessary to do whatever possible to prevent her from dying behind bars. The jailed pilot, accused of the murder of two Russian journalists, had been holding a full hunger strike. But she has since begun accepting water. She gave her closing statement in her trial last week, quoted by The Guardian saying "in Russia there were no fair trials or investigations, just a farce played out by Kremlin puppets."
WWII veteran Jan Velík has died at the age of 94. A war hero, Velik suffered under the hands of the communists and was thrown out of the army in 1949 because he refused to enter the communist party. In 1968 he returned all the Soviet medals of bravery he received after the war in protest against the invasion of Czechoslovakia. He was rehabilitated after the fall of communism and in 2011 received the Order of the White Lion, the country’s highest state distinction, from then president Václav Klaus.
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