Thousands of people gathered on Prague’s Old Town Square on Saturday
afternoon for the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, marking the
start of Advent and the opening of the city’s biggest Christmas market.
The ceremonial lighting of the 22-metre tall spruce felled in Rynoltice, north of Prague, was enhanced by music from popular Czech fairy-tales and the decorations on it were also inspired by children’s stories.
The Christmas market traditionally offers visitors close to 100 stalls and a rich cultural program.
The head of the Pirate Party Ivan Bartoš will ask the Czech authorities to
look into the prime minister’s alleged conflict of interest.
Bartoš said that in view of the fact that it was an ongoing problem it was vital to minimize the damage for Czech taxpayers. He said the issue had been underestimated by the Czech authorities.
Tributes and condolences on the death of George Bush, the 41st president of
the United States, are pouring in from Czech politicians. The former US
leader is being remembered as a great statesman and a man who helped usher
in a new era in trans-Atlantic relations after the fall of communism.
Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček highlighted George Bush’s personal courage, his service to his country and his contribution to the end of the Cold War.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček recalled George Bush’s visit to Czechoslovakia in 1990, when he brought Czechs and Slovaks the Bell of Liberty ringing it three times to a crown of thousands “for your courage, for your freedom and for your children.”
According to a confidential European Commission legal opinion cited by The
Guardian, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš faces a conflict of interest
over European Union funds paid to his company.
The leaked report, seen by The Guardian, concludes that Babiš is in a situation that “qualifies as a conflict of interest”, because public officials and politicians should not benefit from EU funds they ultimately control. The taxpayers of the Czech Republic thus face being asked to repay at least some of the €82m paid to the conglomerate Agrofert in 2018, legal experts say.
The European Commission was asked to investigate the matter after Transparency Czech Republic said it had evidence that although Babiš put Agrofert in a trust fund, he remains the beneficial owner, in breach of Czech and EU law.
Prime Minister Babiš dismissed the report as yet another slander campaign against him. He said that according to his lawyers he had not breached any laws.
The legendary Spanish tenor José Carreras, who is famous for his unique
interpretation of the works of Verdi and Puccini, will perform a concert at
Prague’s O2 Arena on April 5, 2019. He will be accompanied by the Czech
National Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Giménez.
Carreras has performed in Prague on several occasions. In 2014 he gave a charity concert in the Czech capital together with violinist Vanessa-Mae and Irish soprano Celine Byrne.
A Czech lorry driver found guilty of smuggling weapons into the UK has been
jailed for eight years, the BBC reported.
The National Crime Agency said 10 Heckler and Koch P2000 pistols and 250 rounds of ammunition were found in David Abeles' lorry on 1 September. The weapons were fully functional.
The 46-year-old Czech national had just arrived in the port of Killingholme on a transport ship from the Netherlands. In court he admitted to possessing firearms and ammunition.
The Social Democratic party leadership has come out in defence of Foreign
Minister Tomáš Petříček whose performance in office was severely
criticized by President Miloš Zeman this week.
Party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček said on Friday that under Petříček's leadership the foreign ministry fulfils the government’s foreign policy priorities, defends the interests of the Czech Republic and maintains the set foreign policy line.
The president earlier accused Mr. Petříček of incompetence, saying the ministry’s decision to take away “top priority status” from the Czech Embassy in Hungary and that in Italy was a serious mistake. He apologized in person to the visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday, saying he would push to get the decision reversed.
The Czech Foreign Ministry said in its defence that the status of Czech embassies did not reflect the importance ascribed to bilateral relations with a given state and downgrading the status of the said ministries had been prompted by financial considerations.
Visiting Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the Czech head of
government Andrej Babiš on Friday met to discuss bilateral cooperation and
European issues. The two heads of government reiterated their common stand
to migration and thanked each other for their mutual support in defending
their stand in Brussels. Both countries have refused to accept migrant
quotas and both have refused to sign the UN’s Global Compact for
Mr Obrán also met for talks with Radek Vondráček, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies. The Hungarian prime minister thanked the Czech Parliament for coming out in Hungary’s defence in its controversy with the European Parliament over the country’s internal developments.
The European Parliament in September voted to launch a procedure against Hungary over its alleged breach of core EU values, an unprecedented move against any EU member state. The Czech Republic criticized the decision as unfortunate, arguing that dialogue would have been a better option.
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