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18-07-2019

China warns Prague mayor not to undermine Czech-Chinese relations

China has asked the Mayor of Prague Zdeněk Hřib and the city’s leadership not to interfere in Czech-Chinese relations, China’s state-run press agency Xinhua reported. It cited the spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Geng Shuang, who said that the “Prague government and mayor have for some time behaved very badly on issues involving China's national sovereignty and core interests, including issues related to Taiwan and Tibet”.

The spokesman did not specify his objections further, but it seems he was reacting to an earlier statement by Mr. Hřib on the sister-city agreement, which the former Prague leadership signed with Bejing. The current Prague City Council wants to revise the agreement and scrap the part which says Prague recognizes a single China.

Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said in response to the news that he would invite the Chinese ambassador to Prague to discuss the matter. Politics should not interfere in cultural cooperation, the Czech foreign minister wrote on Twitter.

Czech foreign minister outlines priorities during V4 presidency

The Czech Republic wants to increase the coalition potential of the Visegrad Four (V4) group in the EU during its V4 presidency, which it assumed on July 1, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said during a debate organized by the Institute of Politics and Society in Prague.

Minister Petříček said the V4 group, which comprises the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, should actively focus on issues it considers important such as the deepening of the single market and strengthening defence cooperation within the alliance. He also spoke in favour of more intensive cooperation with the Eastern Partnership countries and stronger support for the integration of the Western Balkans into the EU.

The Slovak ambassador to Prague, Peter Weiss, stressed the need to change the perception of the V4 as a troublemaker that only blocks EU decisions in its own interests. Minister Petříček agreed that the V4 group should show a constructive attitude to the issues debated.

Galileo back in operation

Europe's Global Navigation Satellite System Galileo which had been out of operation for technical reasons since last Thursday has fully renewed its services, the Czech Transport Ministry reported citing the Prague-based GNSS Agency.

The fall-out was reportedly caused by technical problems following a software upgrade. During the week-long break, Galileo users with the right technology have been relying on the U.S. GPS alternative to find their way around.

Top level talks on government crisis set for next week

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is due to meet with President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday, July 24th to try to resolve the drawn out-government crisis surrounding the culture minister, the Office of the President confirmed.

Deputy prime minister and Social Democrat leader, Jan Hamáček, who originally also expected to attend the talks, said he considered the one-on-one meeting perfectly in order.

The meeting is to focus on the Social Democrats’ nominee for culture minister, Michal Šmarda, whom President Zeman is reluctant to appoint. The Social Democrat have warned they may walk out of the government if their nominee is rejected.

Černošice council’s decision on Babiš invalidated

The regional council of Central Bohemia has upheld a complaint from Prime Minister Andrej Babis regarding the conclusion of the Černošice council according to which he has a conflict of interest.

The Černošice council debated the issue on the grounds of a complaint filed by Transparency International Czech Republic.

It concluded that Babis still controls the giant multi-industry group Agrofert, even though he put the conglomerate into trust funds to meet a strict new conflict of interest law and meted out a 200,000 crown fine. The regional council of Central Bohemia invalidated the decision and the case will now go back to the Černošice council.

The Czech branch of Transparency International filed a complaint with the Černošice council - a small municipality just outside Prague where Babiš lives - because Czech law states that conflict of interest complaints must be registered with the relevant local authority.

Most Czechs unhappy with salary, study shows

A June study conducted by the Public Opinion Research Centre (CVVM) shows that around three fifths of Czechs believe they are being paid less than they deserve at their current job, while only a third believe they receive a fair salary.

However, the majority of respondents said that they are happy with their current positions, despite being underpaid. Furthermore, nearly 80 percent say they are not worried about losing their job. Around three quarters said that they have good relations at work - a factor which CVVM says is closely related to job satisfaction.

Weather forecast

Friday should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius.

18-07-2019