Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has expressed the conviction that the government coalition can fulfill its mandate without any need for changes ahead of the election next year. There had been speculation that one of the parties in government, the ANO movement, was considering trying to attract Dawn MPs over to its side to gain enough seats to allow them and the Social Democrats to rule without the junior Christian Democrats. The prime minister said if anyone was considering such scenarios, it was without the involvement of his own party. On Friday, the financial daily Hospodářské noviny wrote that TOP 09's Miroslav Kalousek had offered support for a minority government of the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, if ANO decided to leave the current government. The offer was reportedly in order to hold off early elections.
Fashion designer Liběna Rochová took the top award in the annual Czech Grand Design competition on Saturday evening, for a fashion series inspired by artist Milan Grygar. She also clinched the top prize in the fashion category. The prize for best newcomer (or discovery of the year) went to design duo Markéta Držmíšková and Petr Hák, for work in porcelain and the Sequence storage system. Acclaimed architect and designer Bořek Šípek, who died last month, was honoured in memoriam and inducted into the hall of fame.
Defence Minister Martin Stropnický has said the annual budget of the Czech Army should increase by 4.5 billion crowns year-on-year, an rise that will allow the military to complete planned investment and tenders. The minister made the statement following a meeting of an experts with the Czech head of state on Saturday. Last year, the Czech Army operated on a budget of 49 billion crowns. Minister Stropnický said the budget as outlined for next year would give the military a solid foundation for modernization and development.
Gabriela Soukalová won the women's biathlon World Cup overall title for the first time on Saturday, finishing fourth in the 10 kilometre pursuit race in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia. Finland's Kaisa Makarainen clinched the 10-kilometer pursuit but fourth was enough for Soukalová to secure the title with one race remaining. Soukalová is the second Czech to win a biathlon World Cup overall title after Jiřina Adamičková in 1990, and also ends the season top of the pursuit standings.
The ANO party will spend 50 million crowns on its regional election campaign this year, party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has told the Czech News Agency. The leader said ANO was setting as its goal to win a minimum of five regions and place second where it failed to clinch victories. Mr Babiš is to partly finance the campaign with an ongoing loan; according to figures dating back to 2014, cited by ČTK, the party owed its leader 65 million crowns. Fellow members in government, the Social Democrats expect to spend 100 million on their own campaign.
More than fifty police officers took part in an extensive raid this week which included as search of homes and vehicles in the area of Cheb, and charges against eight people for the illegal production and sale of marijuana, the police have revealed. Confiscated in the crackdown were around four kilograms of dried marijuana, almost 100 plants, and several tens of thousands of crowns from sales. Charges against three of the persons were brought the same day: if found guilty, two face a potential 10 years behind bars, the third, five.
Culture Minister Daniel Herman, a member of the Christian Democratic Party, has tweeted that a recent minute of silence by MPs he initiated in the lower house to honour those who died in the 1959 Tibetan rebellion, reportedly drew a complaint from Chinese representatives, who allegedly said it could damage the upcoming visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Prague. The news was not confirmed by the Czech Foreign Ministry. A spokesman said the issue of honouring the victims had been discussed as one of several at a regular meeting with representatives from the Chinese embassy. The Czech Republic, according to a statement signed by Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and his counterpart in 2014, does not support Tibetan independence in any form. All the same, on March 10 this year, some 700 institutions including schools in the Czech Republic took part in the international Flag for Tibet campaign.
Forward Tomáš Fleischmann got a goal in the Chicago Blackhawks' win on Friday over the Winnipeg Jets. In the game, defenceman Michal Rozsíval also picked up an assist. The Blackhawks won by a final score of 4:0. Goalie Ondřej Pavelec was in net for the Jets for all of Chicago's goals; he stopped 32 shots.
The top leadership of the Social Democratic party has recommended MPs back the programme for next week's extraordinary lower house session, calling on Finance Minister Andrej Babiš and the ANO party to explain the financing of the Stork´s Nest farm and conference centre. The proposal was originally put forward by the centre-right opposition. Serious questions over how the centre, which is owned by Mr Babiš agro-chemical giant Agrofert, received 50 million crowns in EU funds, remain. On Friday evening, Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said that the affair had hurt the ruling coalition; he made clear the matter needed to be properly explained as quickly as possible. The Social Democrat leadership on Friday also urged its MPs to back a proposed conflict of interest amendment. For his part, Mr Babiš called on his his party's MPs to also back next week's session programme.
A joint statement establishing a strategic partnership between the Czech Republic and China will be the main result of the forthcoming visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the Czech Republic, the Czech News Agency reports, citing government information. A number of memoranda on cooperation in investment, finances, aviation and health care are expected to be signed. Xi Jinping is due to visit the Czech Republic on March 28-30, the first visit by a Chinese head of state to the Czech Republic. ČTK quoted a cabinet meeting report: "Within the strategic partnership, both countries are expressing the will to increase cooperation in a number of spheres". These include industrial production, science and research, aviation, health care, agriculture, energy production, culture, education, sport and tourism, the agency said.
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