The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, discussed the UK’s planned exit from the European Union, the future of the bloc and next month’s EU summit in Rome in Prague on Tuesday with Joseph Muscat, his counterpart from Malta, which currently holds the EU presidency. The Czech and Maltese prime ministers said they held different positions on compulsory migrant quotas and had attempted to find a way forward on that issue during their meeting. Mr. Sobotka also brought up planned talks on food quality involving the Visegrad Four leaders on Thursday.
The police have proposed the charging of four people over the spraying of neo-Nazi symbols on Prague cafés and shops aligned with the Hate Free project. The four are accused of criminal damage and expressing sympathy for a group aimed at suppressing rights and freedoms. Seven businesses that had signed up as “Hate Free zones” were targeted in the attacks in April last year. The Hate Free Culture campaign combatting intolerance and racism is run by the government’s Agency for Social Inclusion.
Vets will on Thursday put down over 30,000 chickens and ducks at two poultry farms in Cheb, West Bohemia after the confirmation of cases of bird flu. It will be the biggest single extermination of poultry since the current wave of avian flu began. The outbreak is the third detected in the region and the 37th in the Czech Republic. To date almost 60,000 birds have been put down because of the disease.
The minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, and the interior minister, Milan Chovanec, will accompany President Miloš Zeman when he travels to the United States in April, Mr. Zeman’s spokesman said on Tuesday. The Czech head of state is due to meet US president Donald Trump at the White House on the trip, which is planned for the second half of the month. Mr. Zeman has invited Mr. Trump to visit the Czech Republic in December. The Czech president was one of the few European leaders to support Mr. Trump’s candidacy for the White House.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called a meeting of representatives of all parliamentary parties on Friday to discuss a bill on electronic communications. Mr. Sobotka is hoping to win support for an accelerated process of debating the legislation, which is aimed at reducing data charges for smartphone users. Inaction over data prices has been cited as a reason for the dismissal of Jan Mládek as minister for industry and trade. Mr. Sobotka has taken over that portfolio until a congress of his Social Democrats next month.
ANO chief Andrej Babiš says he cannot imagine forming a government with the Communist Party or populist Tomio Okamura’s Freedom and Direct Democracy after elections this autumn. Speaking on Czech Television, Mr. Babiš said, however, that there were honest people with whom agreement could be reached in every party. ANO, who are currently in government with the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, have been leading in the opinion polls for some time. The Social Democrats have also raised the possibility of forming a coalition with the Communists, who have been shunned as potential partners at national level since 1989.
The Czech Republic’s PPF investment group has acquired a licence to set up a new bank in the UK, iHned.cz reported on Tuesday. Clear Bank will primarily focus on financial transactions between British banks, the news website said. It will be the first new clearing bank in the UK for 250 years. PPF, which is owned by the richest Czech, Petr Kellner, already majority owns the credit company Home Credit, Air Bank and PPF Banka. Clear Bank is currently in a pilot phase and will launch fully in the autumn.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has proposed that a European Commission representative attend the forthcoming planned Visegrad Four (V4) summit focussing on differences in food quality in stores in Western and Eastern Europe. Mr Sobotka explained in a press release that the Commission and EU agriculture minister could submit specific proposals aimed at finding a solution. Bureaux in Slovakia recently released the results of laboratory food tests, suggesting that supranational food firms often supplied products in Slovakia whose quality was lower under the same brands than in the neighbouring Austria. The V4 summit, initiated by Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is to be held in Warsaw on Thursday.
The National Gallery in Prague has selected a new security agency and is likely to sign a new contract soon on the guarding of its buildings and collections, the gallery’s director Jiří Fajt told the Czech News Agency, adding that the gallery premises would re-open on Tuesday. The new contract will be signed for one year only and the National Gallery in the interim will prepare new a tender for security services. The National Gallery had to unexpectedly close its premises during the weekend due to its dispute with the ABAS IPS Management security agency that had withdrawn from a contract. The agency, in charge of security at the National Gallery since October 2016, claims that it is owed money by the institution.
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