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Miloš Zeman sworn in for second presidential term

Miloš Zeman took his second presidential oath of office at Prague Castle on Thursday at the start of a second five-year presidential term. The inauguration ceremony in the historic Vladislav Hall took place in the presence of both houses of Parliament.

Some 700 guests, including deputies, senators, diplomats and other personalities attended the event, which was transmitted on a big screen on nearby Hradčanské Square.

The president signed his oath of office at a table used by Czechoslovakia’s first president Tomáš G. Masaryk which, like so many other pieces of furniture and architectural elements at Prague Castle, was designed by the Slovenian architect Jossip Plecnik.

The inauguration ceremony ended with the national anthem and a 21-gun salute in the president’s honour.

In his inauguration speech the president criticized the media for “mentoring the public”, expressed support for direct elections of mayors and governors and said he would like to see Czechs become more engaged in public affairs. A number of right-wing deputies left the assembly hall in protest of the president’s criticism of the media.

After the ceremony, the head of state and the First Lady visited St. Vitus’ Cathedral to pay homage to the remains of St Wenceslas, the patron saint of the country.

National Security Council meets over situation at GIBS

A meeting of the National Security Council on Thursday addressed the situation at the General Inspectorate of the Security Forces (GIBS), after Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said he had lost faith in its head Michal Murín and doubted his moral and professional authority.

Mr Babiš said his concerns were based on documents of the Supreme State Office in Olomouc, which cannot be made public and with which he would acquaint members of the National Security Council.

Meanwhile, Michal Murín, who said last week that the prime minister had pressured him to resign and threatened his with a scandal if he did not, presented his case to members of Parliament’s Security Committee. The hearing took place behind closed doors.

Uber reaches agreement with government

The ride-sharing service Uber has reached an agreement with the government on conditions which would bring the service on an equal footing with regular taxi drivers.

Following a meeting with Uber representatives on Thursday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the app-based service had agreed to use licensed-only drivers who would register and tax their earnings.

Prague and Brno taxi drivers have repeatedly protested against Uber, which they see as unfair competition.

Government approves appointment of new army chief-of-staff

The outgoing government of Prime Minister Andrej Babis has approved Major General Aleš Opata’s appointment as the new chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces.

He will replace Josef Bečvář in the post as of May. The change of guard at the post was initiated by Defence Minister Karla Šlechtová shortly after she took office.

The minister said she expected the new army chief-of- staff to improve the army’s management and improve exiting shortcomings in procuring army equipment.

NATO general “cautiously optimistic” about possibility of improving NATO-Russia ties

The chief of NATO's Military Committee, General Petr Pavel, has told the Russian news agency TASS he is “cautiously optimistic” with regard to the possibility of improving relations between NATO and Russia.

Asked whether he believes that NATO and Russia can overcome the present period of tense relations and leave behind them the legacy of the Cold War, General Pavel said such a chance existed, but it needed developing a more intense dialogue on specific issues. He said the present agenda during bilateral contacts was vague and a fresh impetus was needed to move the relationship forward.

Relations between NATO and Russia soured after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 when NATO broke off military cooperation with Russia.

Forbes: Czech Petr Kellner is 88th richest in world

The owner of the investment group PPF Petr Kellner remains the richest Czech according to Forbes magazine. According to the list, he is also the 88th richest person in the world. The market value of his assets is estimated at 320 billion crowns (around 15.5 billion US dollars). It is the first time Kellner has made it into the top 100.

Overall, six Czechs made it onto the ranking of the rich this year and the names were the same as for last year. The acting prime minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš finished second with assets estimated at 4.6 billion US dollars, followed by energy entrepreneur Karel Komárek.

Weather forecast

Friday should bring partly cloudy skies with day temperatures between 7 and 11 degrees Celsius. The warming should continue with temperatures expected to reach 16 degrees at the weekend.