A new coalition governing Prague City Hall could take shape around the TOP 09 party and push the former ruling ANO party and Social Democrats into opposition. Representatives of five political parties, including TOP 09, the three-way coalition, Pirates, and independents, with the support of the Civic Democrats, outlined their goal to have a new coalition in place by January. That formation could count on 35 votes in the 65-seat council chamber. The existing coalition led by ANO collapsed in November after prolonged strains.
Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said German Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to visit Prague in the near future. Sobotka announced the visit, for which a date is still being sought, in answers to an on-line interview on the web pages of the tabloid Blesk. Topics for discussion would probably cover the immigration crisis, strengthening of the Schengen zone, trade issues, and modernization of industry. Relations between Prague and Berlin were sourced by the immigration crisis during which the Czech government took a stand against the mandatory share out of immigrants between EU countries.
A center for research into the use of cannabis in medicine has been opened in Prague. The International Centre for Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute has been created with the help of 500 million crown donations from the US and Canada. Health minister Svatopluk Němeček said the sum represents the biggest foreign investment in Czech medicine in recent years. The centre has been tasked to explore the use of cannabis and its components both with regard to existing medical knowledge and the experiences of patients. Although legal for some conditions, Czech doctors are said to be still cautious about prescribing medicinal cannabis.
Energy company ČEZ has said it will postpone proceedings aimed at renewing the operating license for the oldest reactor at the Dukovany nuclear power plant due to ongoing tests on welds for piping. It has asked the state nuclear watchdog for permission to continue operation of the plant in the meantime. Three out of the four units have been closed at the nuclear plant, responsible for supply of around a fifth of the country’s electricity, since mid-September.
US-based Amazon is proposing to locate its European centre for returned goods on a site on the outskirts of Prague. The site earmarked for the giant hall is at Horní Pocernice with the possibility of 3,000 workers on the site. Around 1,000 workers could be located from Amazon’s existing site at Dobrovíz, which would remain as a logistics centre for the e-commerce giant.
The Dawn political party and the Bloc Against Islam say they will join a Europe-wide demonstration against so-called Islamization on February 6. Party members said the Prague demonstration would be organized in connection with the German PEGIDA movement. Locations for demonstrators would be reserved near Prague castle and also in the centre of the city, they added. Czech organisers said they would also help put together demonstrations in Slovakia and Estonia.
Police on Monday raided the offices and flat of Cheb mayor Petr Navrátil. Searches were connected with the use of EU funds for regional projects. Navrátil said that police were interested in dossiers dating back three-and-a-half years, before he became the chairman of the regional organ responsible for evaluating and approving funded projects. The director of the body approving projects then, Petr Kušnierz, has already been sentence to five years in prison for abuse of his position and accepting bribes.
Legendary jockey Josef Váňa has said in an interview with Czech Radio that he could return and compete in the Pardubice steeple chase in 2016. The 63-year-old, who has already triumphed eight times on one of the most difficult courses in Europe, said he would like to ride the horse Rabbit Hawk Wing if his health permits. This year Váňa watched the race from the stands.
A new heliport equipped with a heated landing pad at Plzeň’s Teaching Hospital is expected to save minutes during emergency transfers. Patients in serious or critical condition should be transferred even more quickly to the emergency ward, the head of the hospital Václav Šimánek said. The heliport will be fully operational within days. This year some 337 patients in medical emergencies were transferred to the hospital by helicopter.
Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Čech has commented on his club’s draw against FC Barcelona in the final 16 of the Champions League saying playing against one of the top favourites will be a challenge. Čech listed Barcelona, with players such as Messi, Suarez, Neymar and Iniesta, as favourites alongside powerhouse Bayern Munich. But, the keeper has seen success against both clubs before: in 2012, he and his former club Chelsea defeated Barcelona in the Champions League semifinal and Bayern in the final on penalties. Arsenal and Barcelona play the first-leg at the Emirates on February 23.