Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says the more money his government pumps into salaries, investments, science and research, the more people are dissatisfied. He made the comments a day after an estimated quarter of a million people called for his resignation at the biggest demonstration in Prague in almost three decades.
Mr. Babiš said it was a strange situation, adding that people could contact him by email or SMS if they had any doubts or wished to ask any questions.
Sunday’s mass protest was the latest in a series demanding independence for the Czech judiciary. After the police recommended Mr. Babiš be charged over alleged EU subsidy abuse he installed a new justice minister, a move critics say could lead to interference in his case.
The PM said on Sunday that this was a mistaken suggestion. He said it was incredible that some protesters had called for him to be sent straight to jail and the president placed in a coffin but added that protests were a part of democracy.
The recently appointed Czech minister of industry and trade, Karel Havlíček, is in favour of lifting European Union sanctions against Russia, Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday. Mr. Havlíček, who is an ANO appointee, said at a recent meeting with the Russian ambassador to Prague that the sanctions were harming the Czech Republic and ought to be removed, the newspaper said, citing sources at the ministries of industry and trade and foreign affairs.
The EU introduced the penalties in 2014 following Russian aggression toward Ukraine.
The minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, and the minister of finance, Alena Schillerová, told Hospodářské noviny that the Prague government continued to support them.
The Czech Ministry of Defence has signed a contract to purchase 62 Titus armoured personnel carriers from the company Eldis Pardubice for over CZK 6 billion, a spokesperson said on Monday. The Czech Army should receive the vehicles in 2022 and 2023.
The chief of the General Staff, Aleš Opata, said the Titus would replace the army’s current outmoded equipment. Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar said the contract would contribute to the modernisation of the country’s ground forces and successfully concluded a project begun four years ago.
The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, says it is important that none of the so-called “spitzenkandidats” received majority support to become president of the European Commission at a European Council meeting last week. Spitzenkandidats are the leaders of the parties in the European Parliament that did best in elections in May. Some of them don’t like the territory of the Visegrad Four countries, Mr. Babiš said at a conference on economic diplomacy at the Czech Foreign Ministry on Monday Morning.
The Czech leader said it was important that the successor to Jean-Claude Juncker not comment on political matters but rather focus on implementing the conclusions of the European Council.
The government has approved a draft state budget for 2020 envisaging a deficit of CZK 40 billion. The same level of deficit is also expected in the following two years under the plan produced by the minister of finance, Alena Schillerová. She said a priority of next year’s budget would be increasing old aged pensions as well as teachers’ salaries.
Junior coalition partners the Social Democrats abstained from the vote, saying the budget was insufficiently generous to those most in need.
The draft budget is subject to change and Ms. Schillerová will hold consultations on it with other cabinet members through the summer.
The Communist Party, which supports the minority government on key votes, is demanding a maximum deficit of CZK 30 billion next year.
Trains travelling at 200 kilometres an hour are set to go into trial operation in the Czech Republic in August, Czech Television reported on Monday. The Railway Infrastructure Administration plans to test them out around a tunnel on a five-kilometre stretch of the line between Plzeň and Prague. Other, longer sections of the route are also being considered for trials.
The last time train speeds increased in this country was 25 years ago, when velocities went up to 160 kilometres an hour.
It should be sunny in the Czech Republic on Tuesday, with temperatures of up to 30 degrees Celsius. The following days will see similar temperatures before highs fall to around 28 degrees Celsius at the end of the week.
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