Avian influenza has appeared in the Czech Republic again after a three-year
absence, the State Veterinary Administration said on Saturday. An outbreak
of the H5N8 virus, which is fatal to birds, was recorded at a small poultry
farm by the village of Štěpánov nad Svratkou in Vysočina, officials
Twelve hens at the farm were infected with bird flu and half of them died within two days. In line with standard directives, the remaining poultry at the farm has been put down and special veterinary measures have been introduced in the immediate area.
Bird flu has been recorded recently in Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and Romania.
The Social Democrat minister of the interior, Jan Hamáček, has come out
with a radical proposal to change the Czech Republic’s system of
parliamentary elections. In an interview with Saturday’s edition of the
newspaper Lidové noviny he said that instead of the current 14 electoral
districts, corresponding to the country’s regions, there would be only
one, national voting district.
Mr. Hamáček proposes a system under which each grouping would have one national candidates list, headed by the party’s leader. He said this would do away with debates over the number of votes required for election, which ranges from region to region.
The change would also have an impact inside parties that would weaken regional bosses, he said, adding that he would discuss the concept with President Miloš Zeman.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says he respects the fact the government human
rights council backed Helen Válková remaining as Czech human rights
commissioner. The PM said if he had felt otherwise he would have removed
Ms. Válková, who was previously justice minister for his ANO party, from
She had been President Miloš Zeman’s nominee to become the next ombudsman but he withdrew her name after she became embroiled in a controversy linked to a notorious communist-era prosecutor.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has called for the abrogation of a tender to
operate a new online system of motorway vignette sales. Mr. Babiš said
that the contract had been badly organised and put together. The CZK 400
million-plus contract awarded to Asseco Central Europe has been criticised
However, the minister of transport, Vladimír Kremlík of the PM’s ANO party, has refused to scrap the deal. He says he will discuss ways to achieve a better price with the State Fund for Transport Infrastructure.
Current paper motorway passes are set to be replaced by electronic vignettes tied to vehicle registration numbers from 2021.
The Czech Republic is edging ever closer to an influenza epidemic, with a
rise of almost 7 percent recorded compared to the previous week, Czech
Television reported. At present 1,122 people out of every 100,000
inhabitants have been recorded as having flu symptoms by doctors – an
epidemic is declared if the figure passes 1,500.
A particularly high incidence of the illness has been regarded among elementary school children, with a 24 percent increase in recorded flu cases among them this week.
Customs officers have detained a Hungarian driver carrying three refugees
from Syria in his vehicle, the Czech customs authority’s spokeswoman
informed in a press release on Friday.
The driver, who was selected for a random check, ignored the customs officers’ instruction to stop. He was accused of assisting illegal border crossing.
The European Commission headed by Usula von der Leyen wants to change its
policy towards the Visegrad Four countries, comprising the Czech Republic,
Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, the German daily Die Welt wrote on Thursday.
Mrs von der Leyen said that while she wants to be uncompromising in questions concerning the rule of law, she also wants to lead a structured dialogue based on mutual respect aimed at diffusing tensions within the European Union.
According to die Welt, the European Commission is unlikely to propose the mandatory migrant-sharing quotas, which have deeply divided the Visegrad Four countries and the other EU member states.
That, it says, could make the Visagrad Four countries more willing to make compromises concerning future EU budget or climate policy.
The European Parliament’s group the European People’s Party wants to
initiate a new anti-oligarch law to assure a fairer distribution of EU
money. Among other things, it criticizes the dual role of Czech Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš who is involved in EU budget negotiations on behalf
of his country and at the same time, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of
EU funds in the Czech Republic.
Speaking at a plenary debate on the case of Andrej Babiš’ conflict of interest earlier this week, MEP Monika Hohlmeier, Chairwoman of the Budgetary Control Committee, pointed out that the Agrofert company linked to the Czech Prime Minister is one of the biggest Czech recipients of agricultural fund.
“What we see in the Czech Republic and some other member states is that a couple of oligarchs profit from EU funds at the expense of Czech and other European taxpayers. This is why the EPP Group will initiate a new anti-oligarch law on how a fairer distribution of EU money can be guaranteed,” she said.
Mrs Hohlmeier is due to visit the Czech Republic in February as part of a mission to assess the country’s management of EU funds.
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