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18-08-2019

Chinese Embassy protests Czech statements on Hong Kong

The Chinese Embassy in Prague has protested against statements made about the situation in Hong Kong by some Czech politicians and institutions. In a Facebook post, the embassy said those opinions were erroneous and represented meddling in China’s internal affairs. It said extreme violence had been employed by protestors during demonstrations in Hong Kong.

The head of the Czech Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Pavel Fischer, this week appealed to the Beijing government to refrain from violence. The Czech Confederation of Trade Unions also wrote an open letter to the Chinese Embassy, calling for an end to repression and saying people should not be fired from their jobs for taking part in demonstrations.

Activists have clashed with police in China over the past 10 weeks during protests sparked by an extradition bill.

Babiš for coalition continuing but wants Šmarda to withdraw

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO says he wants the party’s coalition government with the Social Democrats to continue. Mr. Babiš told the news website iDnes.cz on Sunday that he was doing his all to ensure this happened. He added that if the Social Democrats’ nominee for arts minister, Michal Šmarda, wished to help the party he would withdraw his candidacy.

President Miloš Zeman has refused to appoint Mr. Šmarda despite the fact that the head of state is meant under the constitution to name ministers proposed by the PM.

Social Democrats leader Jan Hamáček insists that both the coalition agreement, under which his party controls the Ministry of Culture, and the constitution be respected. Otherwise, he says, the party may quit the government.

Mr. Babiš said on Sunday that neither he nor the head of state had violated those documents.

Mr. Hamáček and Mr. Babiš are due to hold talks on Monday to try to break the impasse. The prime minister will speak to President Zeman the following day.

Filip: Communists would back Babiš government without Social Democrats

The leader of the Communists, Vojtěch Filip, says his party would be willing to support a reconstructed minority government led by Andrej Babiš of ANO, if the Social Democrats quit the current coalition. Speaking in an interview for Novinky.cz, he said, however, that the Communist Party actually entering government was out of the question.

Mr. Filip said the current government had won a vote of confidence and the prime minister would have no reason to step down if the Social Democrats left.

If the junior coalition party quits, there have been suggestions that Mr. Babiš could attempt to continue ruling with the support of the Communists, Freedom and Direct Democracy and some MPs elected as Social Democrats who are at odds with the party’s leadership.

Repairs to Prague’s Powder Tower postponed to 2020

Planned repairs to Prague’s Powder Tower landmark have postponed until next year, Czech Television reported. The project was put back after a delay in a survey into the state of the structure, which was completed in 1475.

The Powder Tower will be surrounded by scaffolding when it is being cleaned, a process that will make it lighter in colour. It is also set to get a new staircase and electrical system.

It will be the biggest renovation job since the end of the 19th century, when the structure attained its present form.

One-fifth of new Prague apartments bought by foreigners

Around 20 percent of new apartments in Prague are bought by foreigners, according to developers addressed by the Czech News Agency. The level of purchases by non-Czech nationals is around the same as last year, they said.

Slovaks are the most frequent foreign buyers of Prague properties, followed by people from Western Europe and post-Soviet states.

Foreigners display the greatest interest in small flats, frequently in upscale projects, the developers said.

Registration to be compulsory for Czech drone operators under new rules

Conditions for the usage of drones in the Czech Republic are to be tightened up under new rules being imposed across the European Union, Czech Television reported. Operators will be barred from flying drones over large gatherings or accidents so as not to hamper the work of rescue services.

Drone pilots will have to register their machines and will receive identification codes similar to car registration numbers.

The usage of drones following a recent train accident near Mariánské Lázně complicated the work of fire and rescue services.

The head of the Czech Association of Professional Pilotless Plane Operators told Czech Television that a small plastic drone could cause a helicopter to crash if it collided with the aircraft’s rotors.

Metallica to entertain 70,000 in Prague

The US rock band Metallica are set to play to around 70,000 fans at a sold-out concert at Prague’s Letňany airfield on Sunday evening. Traffic is barred from the vicinity of the venue until midnight and public transport will be greatly reinforced for the event.

Metallica have played several times in the Czech Republic, most recently at Prague’s O2 Arena last year. Letňany has also hosted shows by Ed Sheeran, the Rolling Stones and other artists.

Weather forecast

Monday should be bright with some rain in the Czech Republic, with temperatures of up to 26 degrees Celsius. The rain is expected to persist in the following days.

18-08-2019