Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Wednesday that the Czech Republic will push for the EU to clamp down on human traffickers and deal with problems in emigrants’ home countries at a special meeting Thursday to debate the immigration crisis facing Europe. Sobotka said EU foreign policy should also seek as a priority to tackle the problems in Libya, where national government has broken down amid a power battle between rival groups. The Czech prime minister said Prague is broadly in accord with the 10 point programme drawn up after a meeting of EU foreign and interior ministers on Monday. He stressed however that Prague is opposed to national quotas for sharing out immigrants who arrive in the EU. Such a share out would likely increase the number of immigrants which the landlocked Czech Republic would be forced to take in. At the moment the country is mainly on transit routes and not a target for the large flow of immigrants landing in such frontline countries as Italy.
The funeral service for former Social Democrat (ČSSD) prime minister Stanislav Gross was held at Prague’s Vyšehrad church on Wednesday morning. The ceremony was attended by current premier Bohuslav Sobotka, foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek, and interior minister Milan Chovanec and other top members of the party from Gross’ time in power. Gross died last week at the age of 45, apparently from the effects of a paralysing nerve condition. He became prime minister in 2004 at the age of 34 but was forced to resign in the following year after a scandal over how he paid for a Prague flat. He later regreted his series of lies and half truths and said that he should have admitted that the flat was bought from his expenses as a member of parliament.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says Russia is unlikely to attack the Baltic States as the country’s president, Vladimir Putin, is not suicidal. Mr. Zeman said in an interview for AP that Mr. Putin was aware of the consequences of attacking any members of NATO. He said the response in such an instance would be not just political and economic but military. President Zeman has opposed Western sanctions on Russia imposed in response to its actions in Ukraine.
Prague hotels have upped their prices by between 12 and 20 percent at the start of May for the ice hockey world championships being hosted by the capital and Ostrava. The price hikes were announced by the Czech Association of Travel Agencies. The biggest demand has come at the end the championships which continue until May 17. The association warned that hotels which had exaggerated their price rises were being shunned. Championship organisers expect 600,000 fans to be attracted to games.
Czechs on average work 41.8 hours a week, according to figures released by the European statistics office, Eurostat. The figures for 2014 put Czechs in eighth place among the EU 28 countries for the longest working week. Greeks topped the table with just over 44 hours followed by Austrians and British. Poles worked around half an hour longer every week than Czechs but Slovaks slightly less. Danes put in the least hours with an average 38.8 hours worked a week. The working week is shortening though for Czechs with just over 43 hours the length of the average in 2003. The main issue is not hours worked but productivity of the time at work.
Police have recommended that criminal proceedings are revived and charges pressed against billionaire businessman Pavel Tykač for his part in the alleged tunnelling of CS Fondů, according to Czech Television. Charges were originally lodged against Tykač for his part in a 1.23 billion channelling of cash abroad from the three funds managed by the company in the late 1990s. They got back almost worthless shares in return. Czech prosecutors blocked previous moves to prosecute Tykač for his part in the massive fraud for lack of witnesses. Proceedings have been revived now by the police because three witnesses with testimony putting Tykač as the main organiser of the fraud have come forward. Tykač’s personal worth is estimated at around 30 billion crowns.
Czech bank GE Money Bank is being put up for sale by its US parent company, General Electric. The general manager of the Czech unit, Sean Morrisey, confirmed that the aim is for the sale to take place within two years. The story of the intended sale was broken by business daily Hospodářské Noviny. GE Money Bank is the sixth largest bank on the Czech market with around one million clients. Its sale could fetch up to 40 billion crowns for its owners, the paper reported.
Train services between Prague and Berlin and Hamburg were disrupted Wednesday by a strike by German train drivers. Trains from the Czech capital were forced to stop at Dresden where an emergency service took over. The strike over wages and conditions with national carrier Deutsche Bahn (DB) is due to last until Friday. Two thirds of long distance and regional DB passenger services were due to be affected. Services by other operators from the Czech Republic to Munich and across the border from Cheb were not expected to be hit.
The playoffs final series in the domestic ice hockey Extraliga is set to go to a seventh, deciding match after Třinec beat Litvínov 6:3 on Tuesday evening to make it 3:3 on games. The champions will be crowned on Thursday, when the series returns to Třinec’s arena. At one point Litvínov, who have never won the Extraliga in over 50 years of existence, were 3:1 up on games in the best-of-seven series.
In football, Czech manager Zdeněk Zeman has ended his stint at top Italian league club Cagliari for the second time this season. Sixty-seven year old Zeman was dismissed on Tuesday. Cagliari are currently next to bottom in the Seria A league. Zeman guided the club between June and December last year and was brought back again at the start of March. The team only picked up one point in the five games played under Zeman. Zeman in the past has piloted top Italian teams such as Rome, Lazio, and Naples.
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