Last year the Czech Republic drew nearly CZK 152 billion more from the European Union than it paid into the bloc, according to figures released by the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday. It was the highest such gap since the country joined the EU in May 2004. The Czech Republic drew a total of CZK 157 billion from the union’s Structural and Cohesion Funds, as well as receiving CZK 31 billion under the Common Agricultural Policy. Since its accession the Czech Republic has contributed CZK 429 billion to the EU’s coffers and received CZK 990 billion.
Prague saw a year-on-year increase in tourist numbers of 7.8 percent in 2015, according to data published on Tuesday by the Czech Statistics Office. Around 6.8 million visitors were registered in the Czech capital last year, with almost 5.7 million of them coming from abroad. Tourist overnight stays totalled 15.9 million in 2015, which also represented a 7.8 percent rise.
The police have rejected criticism from the justice minister for not taking action against masked men hurling missiles at left-wing activists in Prague on Saturday. Police president Tomáš Tuhý said on Tuesday that the force had acted professionally. Suspicions that individual officers acted inadequately are being investigated, he said. The minister of justice, Robert Pelikán, said commanding officers bore responsibility for failing to order action against individuals who were breaking the law by wearing masks and carrying weapons at a demonstration. The minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, said a proper investigation would take time and rejected what he called “show trials”.
The final settlement between church and state over the return of confiscated property at Prague Castle, which was officially to be signed by the end of January, should be sealed by February 26th, President Miloš Zeman and Archbishop Dominik Duka agreed on Thursday. According to the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček, the two parties needed more time to settle the requirements of the church regarding the buildings at the castle. According to a memorandum signed in the summer of last year, the Church was to receive the Saint George’s Convent and the Mocker Houses on condition that it will renovate them within five years and drop its claims to other buildings at Prague Castle.
The Czech Republic has called a special summit of the Visegrad Four in connection with the migration crisis, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced on Twitter on Tuesday. He and his counterparts from Slovakia, Poland and Hungary are likely to discuss efforts to boost the protection of the Schengen Zone when they meet on February 15. Mr. Sobotka has said that if deals on safeguarding Turkish and Greek borders do not start working by the time a European Council meeting takes place in mid-February the Visegrad states had prepared a variant under which Schengen’s borders could be moved to the southern frontiers of Bulgaria and Macedonia.
Public health officials in Prague have filed criminal complaints against 30 men who knew they had the HIV virus but continued to have unprotected sex, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. The men could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of grievous bodily harm and spreading an infectious disease. The head of the AIDS Centre at the capital’s Na Bulovce hospital said those concerned were homosexual men. The public health officials have filed the complaints on the basis of epidemiologists’ reports. Police are investigating the matter.
Czech-based computer anti-virus giant Avast opened up new offices in Prague on Thursday night. The company, which employs around 700, mostly in the Czech capital, has moved into five floors of offices in the Pankrác district covering 15,000 square metres. The offices are inspired by Silicon Valley with a free restaurant for employees, gym, and even cinema. Avast software protects around 20 percent of all computers worldwide outside China.
Officials at the Ministry of Culture say they are preparing for one of Prague’s bridges, Libeň, to be declared a cultural monument. The move comes in the face of proposals from Prague City Hall for a massive restoration of the bridge. Conservationists say the planned works amount to its demolition. The bridge was designed by Pavel Janák and opened in 1928. It has been described as the sole Cubist-style bridge in the world. A previous attempt to give the bridge heritage status in 2004 failed.
The court case involving an ex aide to former Czech prime minister Mirek Topolánek and a former US ambassador reopens in Prague on Friday. The case focuses on the alleged claims for a bribe by Marek Dalík, the former right hand man of the centre-right premier. Dalík is accused of demanding bribes in connection with a contract for Pandur armoured personnel carriers being supplied by the Austrian manufacturer Steyr. The star witness Friday will be former US ambassador Richard Graber via a video conference link with the courtroom.
Prague’s High Court has overturned an earlier court verdict resulting in seven and six year sentences on two former deputy ministers. Former deputy labour and social affairs minister Vladimír Šiška was previously awarded a seven year jail sentence and the minister dealing with informatics, Milan Hojer sentenced to six years. The two were alleged to have promised to arrange a new contract for the software company OKsystem after it lost out on a lucrative long running deal with the ministry. The offer followed the company threats to complain about the loss of the first contract. Prague’s municipal court has been ordered to take up the case again.
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