The new US ambassador to the Czech Republic, Stephen King, has offered his
credentials to the Czech president Miloš Zeman and may now officially
assume his duties. Mr King, a rich Republican businessman with no previous
diplomatic experience, met with the Czech head of state at Prague Castle on
Stephen King, who is 75, worked for the FBI early in his career and was an investigator for the US Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. According to US media reports, King is personally connected with some close advisors to US president Donald Trump.
The president on Wednesday accepted credentials of another three newly appointed ambassadors. The diplomats are from Tunisia, Malaysia and Lebanon.
A 42-year-old Czech citizen was sentenced to more than three years in
prison for drug trafficking in Germany.
During a routine road check, the police discovered nine kilos of drugs
inside the vehicle with a street value of 35,000 euros.
The man told the police that the drugs were to be sold in the Czech Republic and that his accomplices had acquired them in the Netherlands.
Despite retail sales growth in October being slightly behind market
expectations, analysts expect a record year for the retail sector. Consumer
confidence in the economy is the highest in the history of the Czech
According to the figures released by Czech Statistical Office on Wednesday, Czech retail sales, with the exception of cars, in October slowed down to 6.3 percent compared with the same month a year earlier.
Fuels, non-food and food-sales rose higher, with the highest growth in sales recorded over the Internet and via mail order firms.
The Parliamentary Defense Committee has recommended the lower house to
approve the defense budget for next year, envisaging expenditure of 58.9
billion crowns. The figure is 6.4 billion higher than in the previous year.
The money will allocated for instance for the salaries of new soldiers or for the purchase of ammunition, according to a draft budget presented by the Defense Ministry on Wednesday.
The budget is likely to grow further in the following year to 66.6 billion and in 2020 to 77.3 billion crowns. Despite the increase, the level of spending is expected to reach only 1.35 percent of GDP in 2020, while the current government coalition agreed to ensure that the Czech Republic earmarks 1.4% of GDP by 2020.
President Miloš Zeman appointed ANO chairman Andrej Babiš as prime
minister of the Czech Republic. The move is the first step toward the
formation of a government to replace the outgoing cabinet headed by
At a ceremony at Prague Castle on Wednesday, Mr Babiš highlighted the country’s role in the fight of illegal migration, saying that the government needs to take a more active approach in dealing with illegal migrant smuggling.
Mr. Babiš is planning to form a minority government that also includes a number of non-ANO members. Five of the party’s ministers in the previous government are to remain there in the new formation.
President Zeman plans to hold talks with Mr. Babiš’s new ministerial nominees before appointing the new government in a week’s time. It will then have to undergo a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies within 30 days.
At present only the Communist Party have said they will, under certain conditions, tolerate a minority ANO cabinet
Several non-governmental organisations have called on ANO party leader and
future Prime Minister Andrej Babiš not to scrap the post of minister for
human rights and minorities in his new government.
Abolishing the post would complicate enforcement of equal opportunities and fight against discrimination. The organisation representatives made the appeal on Wednesday during an event at the Milada Horáková monument in Prague.
Mr Babiš has made clear he didn’t want to keep the post of human rights minister in his cabinet. It is not yet clear who will be in charge of the human rights and minorities agenda.
The current government of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian
Democrats, led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, held its last meeting on
President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday formally accepted the government’s
resignation and is due to name ANO leader Andrej Babiš prime minister
later on Wednesday afternoon.
The outgoing Sobotka government will continue its work until next week, when president Zeman is expected to formally appoint a minority ANO government.
Since October elections, in which ANO took almost 30 percent of the vote and 78 seats in the 200-seat lower house, the government has limited its activities to urgent matters and European affairs.
The Czech Army will next year greatly increase the number of its soldiers
serving abroad in NATO missions, Czech Television reported. While at
present there are 400 Czech troops active in such missions, in 2018 the
number will rise to 1,100.
The Czech contingent in Iraq will get the single largest boost, with an extra 300 soldiers due to be deployed to the country. The cost of the military’s foreign operations could double to almost CZK 3 billion next year, Czech Television said.
Czech troops are currently on the ground in Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali and the Sinai Peninsula.
Czech MPs approved the basic parameters of next year’s state budget in
the first reading on Tuesday afternoon. Some 116 deputies from the outgoing
three-party coalition and from Freedom and Direct Democracy raised their
hands for outline figures such as revenues and expenditures as well as a
CZK 50 billion deficit.
Deputies can now propose changes within the budget, though the basic framework will remain the same. The final approval of next year’s budget is expected after December 19.
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