The second highest NATO official, General Petr Pavel, has criticized the pace of increased defense spending by the Czech Republic and other members of the military alliance saying it does not respond adequately to the current security situation. The Czech chairman of the NATO Military Committee was Monday on his first official visit to the Czech Republic since taking up the top post. He pointed out that the Czech Republic is among the bottom quarter of alliance countries in boosting its military spending. Talks with top Czech military in Prague covered the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw and joint NATO exercises in the Baltics.
Czech company Sebre has bought a 20 percent stake in what was Serbia’s biggest film studio complex. The business daily E15 reported that the Czech millionaires behind Sebre paid more than 10 billion euros for the stake in Avala Film. The Czech company is hoping to revive the studios which are described as the Serbian equivalent of Prague’s Barrandov complex. The hopes for a revival are fueled by the increased incentives being offered by most European states to encourage local film making.
Libya has expressed interest in Czech assistance in rebuilding its public administration and stabilization of its security forces, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaorálek told journalists on Monday. Mr. Zaorálek who held talks with Libyan representatives last week, said the country could help train Libyan police and security forces and provide knowhow in public administration. He said Libya would specify its needs in the coming months.
The outgoing head of the police unit for fighting organized crime Robert Šlachta has requested a special meeting of Parliament’s security committee. The head of the elite unit, who handed in his resignation in protest over the planned police reform, said he wanted to inform the committee about possible connections between the police and the criminal underworld.
The Chinese company Wanfeng Auto Holding will invest 100 million dollars (2.4 billion crowns) into Czech-Chinese aviation projects, the ctk news agency reported on Sunday. A memorandum to that effect was signed between the said company and the CzechTrade agency during Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s working visit to China. Mr. Sobotka said the company was interested in financing the production of light and medium aircraft, with plane parts produced in the Czech Republic and assembled in China. Cooperation in the aviation industry was one of the main topics discussed during the Czech-Chinese talks.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka would like the outgoing head of the police’s elite unit for fighting organized crime Robert Šlachta, who resigned in protest over the planned police reform, to remain in public service. Mr. Sobotka said on Sunday that it was up to the police president to make Mr. Šlachta an appropriate offer, in view of the fact that someone who had worked in such a position for years was privy to a great deal of sensitive information. Mr. Šlachta is vehemently opposed to the reform, which would see his unit merged with that of the unit for fighting financial crime and has confirmed that he is leaving the force at the end of the month.
Changes to the coalition agreement should not require a new vote of confidence in the Sobotka government, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and ANO leader Andrej Babiš agreed in a debate of Czech public television on Sunday. Mr. Babiš has demanded a revision of the coalition agreement following a serious rift over the reform of the police force. However the two leaders agreed on Sunday that changes to the coalition agreement would not change its essence, merely clarify certain points in order to prevent future clashes over its interpretation. A meeting of coalition leaders in expected on Wednesday after the prime minister returns from a working visit to China.
Activists from PROUD, a platform for equality, diversity and recognition, are pushing for gays and lesbians to be given rights on a par with marriage. Registered partnerships which were approved in 2006, stop short of allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children. The law on registered partnerships which took years to push through and was repeatedly rejected by the lower house was eventually approved on condition that no further demands would be made. PROUD says that society is changing and the country’s laws should reflect this.
The Sobotka government will not be raising the majority of social benefits next year, Czech public television reported citing Labour and Social Affairs Minister Michaela Marksová. Minister Marksová said that given the low unemployment rate the emphasis was on increasing the minimal wage in order to get more people to seek employment. Labour offices currently report around 130 thousand vacancies. There are some 400 thousand unemployed. All three ruling parties approve of this strategy.
The Dvůr Kralové zoo is celebrating the birth of two black rhinos within the space of five days. The black rhino is an endangered breed with only several hundred of the species left in the wild. The Dvůr Kralové Zoo is spearheading an international effort to save the breed and has a successful breeding program. Only three calves were born in captivity this year and two of them are the rhinos born in Dvůr Kralové. Both are males, each weighing around 30 kilos.
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