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20-04-2018

Social Democrats want coalition provision under which convicted cabinet member would step down

The Social Democrats will demand that any coalition deal with ANO include a provision under which any government member convicted by a court of first instance would have to resign. The position was revealed by the Social Democrats’ Martin Netolický on Friday and is a reaction to the fact that ANO leader Andrej Babiš and another senior party member are facing charges of abusing EU subsidies.

The Social Democrats say ANO have offered them five portofolios, including the post of minister of the interior.

Talks between the two parties broke down two weeks ago only for ANO, currently operating a government in resignation, to go back to the Social Democrats.

A coalition of the two would likely be supported by the Communists on key votes.

Czechs to open honorary consulate in Jerusalem

The Czech Republic will open a new honorary consulate in Jerusalem in the next few months, the country’s acting prime minister, Andrej Babiš, said on Friday. He added that the government was considering opening a Czech Centre in the city during a planned visit to Israel by the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, at the end of 2018.

Mr. Zeman has for some time backed the idea of moving the Czech Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. However, Mr. Babiš rejected that idea in December when US leader Donald Trump announced a similar intention.

The United Nations and the EU insist on a two-state solution under which Jerusalem would one day be the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state.

Mr. Babiš said opening a Czech Centre in the city would not contradict that position.

Jail and payment of massive damages proposed for three over OKD

State attorney Tomáš Černý has called for jail terms in connection with the privatisation of the OKD mining company. A sentence of three years has been proposed for court expert Rudolf Douch, who is accused of producing a false assessment of the firm’s value. Then state officials Pavel Kuta and Jan Škurek, who oversaw the sell-off, deserve to go to prison for 2.5 years, Mr. Černý said.

The state attorney has also proposed that the three together compensate the state for the revenue lost, which is calculated at CZK 5.7 billion.

The privatisation of OKD took place in 2004. The Karbon Invest group bought it for CZK 4.1 billion but Mr. Černý says its actual value was CZK 9.8 billion.

Babiš pledges more education spending in 2019

The acting prime minister, Andrej Babiš, has pledged an increase in spending on education of CZK 30 billion next year. He made the comment during a meeting with students on Friday. The latter raised concerns over how Mr. Babiš plans to fund a promised reduction in travel for students.

Student leaders said rather than taking CZK 400 from the Ministry of Education’s budget for that purpose the government should spend the money on teacher training and pay. The prime minister reportedly told them that he was still considering the matter.

Ministry projects crown to fall below 24 to euro within three years

The Czech crown could reach 23.80 to the common European currency in three years’ time, according to a new study produced by the Czech Ministry of Finance. This year the Czech currency has been trading at an average of 25.10 to the euro.

The regular study, based on prognoses by 16 financial institutions, also suggests that economic growth will slow in the coming years, from around 3.5 percent in 2018 to 2.5 percent in 2021.

Kvitová to be first Czech in action in Fed Cup semis in Stuttgart

Petra Kvitová will take on Julia Görges in the opening match of the Czech Republic’s Fed Cup semi-final against Germany on Saturday. In the next rubber Karolína Plíšková will face Angelique Kerber.

If the Czechs advance in Stuttgart they will play either France or the US in the Fed Cup final in October. The Czech Republic have won the competition five times in the last seven years.

Weather forecast

It should be mainly bright in the Czech Republic on Saturday, with temperatures of up to 25 degrees Celsius. Sunday’s weather should be similar before a change on Monday ushers in several days of rain.

20-04-2018