The names of several new key cabinet members put forth by the ANO party of
Prime Minister-designate Andrej Babiš have been leaked to the media.
The new Defence Minister is Lubomír Metnar, the current interior minister. He replaces Karla Šlechtová, who had highlighted alleged irregularities in many military contracts.
The incoming Justice Minister is Taťána Malá, an MP who has advocated postponing an investigation into an alleged EU subsidy fraud now dogging Mr Babiš. Some members of the Social Democrats, ANO’s coalition partner, have objected to Ms. Malá’s candidacy.
During her tenure as defence minister, Ms. Šlechtová contacted the military police after finding a number of alleged irregularities in a deal to buy mobile radar stations from Israel for CZK 3.5 billion under an agreement reached, but not signed, by her predecessor, Martin Stropnický (ANO).
Ms. Šlechtová, an independent, had previously served as Minister for Regional Development under Mr. Babiš’s predecessor, Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats).
The government has given its formal support to a draft proposal allowing
for same-sex marriages. With the cabinet’s support, the proposal, which
would require amending the Civil Code, will now go to the lower house of
Parliament for debate.
Current Czech civil law only allows for same-sex couples to have registered partnerships, an institution that would no longer be in place if same-sex marriages become legal. Thus far, 46 MPs representing six different parties in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies have signed on to the draft proposal.
The quality of water being fed into Czech reservoirs is rapidly declining,
an expert from the Academy of Sciences told a conference in Prague on
drinking water, and in some areas is on the verge of being untreatable,
meaning it cannot be readily filtered to become potable.
Martin Pivokonský, director of the Academy’s Institute of Hydrodynamics said the biggest threat comes from rising levels of cyanobacteria and pesticides in natural water sources.
The annual “Festival of the five-petalled rose” is now underway in the
picturesque southern Bohemian town of Český Krumlov. This weekend, the
town will be transported back to the Renaissance period when under the rule
of the noble Rožmberk family.
The town’s streets and squares will be filled with the knightly tournaments, historical crafts fairs, banquets and medieval music. Among the most popular events each year is the jousting tournament, recalling a past legend about cutting roses.
The government has approved police president Tomáš Tuhý’s departure
for the post of Czech ambassador to Bratislava, the news site
Neovlivní.cz. reported. However, Mr. Tuhý had previously said he had no
intention of leaving the force and on Thursday wrote on Twitter that he had
no information about such a move.
The news site Aktuálně.cz reported that Mr. Tuhý would only become ambassador to Bratislava when his mandate as police chief expired next year.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has called a meeting of the State Security
Council on Friday to discuss the protection of Czech borders if Germany
decides to turn migrants away at its borders. He said on Thursday that a
crisis plan was already in place for such a scenario under which the Czech
police, customs and possibly the army would be deployed.
Mr. Babiš said that his Austrian counterpart, Sebastian Kurz, had said at a Visegrad Four plus Austria meeting on Thursday that his country would take similar action if Germany started turning migrants away.
Chancellor Angela Merkel is seeking a new deal at EU level over migrants. However the junior partner in her coalition government wants the police to be allowed to reject undocumented migrants at the border.
Speaking after a meeting of the leaders of the Visegrad Four states and
Austria on Thursday, the Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, said that the
European Union agency charged with guarding the bloc’s borders, Frontex,
did not have sufficient powers.
Mr. Babiš said that Frontex should focus its energies on combatting the people smugglers making billions out of migration.
Thursday’s meeting in Budapest was primarily focused on illegal migration and comes ahead of a planned informal EU meeting on Brussels on Sunday about asylum policy and a major summit in the city at the end of next week.
Contrary to a previous statement that he would be attending Sunday’s meeting, Mr. Babiš said no Visegrad Four leaders would be there. He said only countries “friendly to migration” would be involved.
Sudeten German leader Bernd Posselt has criticised what he called
“attacks” by Czech politicians on Chancellor Angela Merkel. The German
head of government said on Wednesday that there had been no moral or
political justification for the post-war expulsion of Germans from Central
and Eastern European countries.
Responding, the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, said he deeply disagreed with her words, while the country’s prime minister, Andrej Babiš, said her statement was unacceptable.
Mr. Posselt said that elements in the Czech establishment were sliding toward the communist past, adding that the expulsions constituted a human rights violation.
A ceremony was held in Prague on Thursday honouring General Helidor Píka,
who became the first victim of judicial murder in Czechoslovakia on 21 June
1949. He had been found guilty of treason in a Communist Party-orchestrated
General Píka served in the Czechoslovak Legions in WWI before becoming one of the highest ranking and most respected officers in the interwar Czechoslovak army. He was a prominent member of the anti-Nazi resistance during WWII.
The memorial to him at Vítězné náměstí in Prague 6 was attended by relatives, representatives of the Czech government, veterans and members of the public.
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