During a speech at Humboldt University in Berlin, President Miloš Zeman came out in support of a common EU defense system and army. In his opinion, the main goal of EU’s foreign policy should be to fight international terrorism. The president also deplored the current soft stance of EU institutions on terrorism, comparing it to the appeasement tactics that western European governments ascribed to during the rise of Nazism and Fascism in the 1930’s. President Zeman will finish off his two-day trip to Germany with a visit to the Czech-German business forum.
Czech President Miloš Zeman got a word of advice from his German counterpart Joachim Glauck during their meeting in Berlin on Wednesday. During their luncheon, the German head-of-state suggested the role of the president was to act as a facilitator and conciliator – not as a “second government”. Mr Gauck, who had good relations with Mr Zeman’s predecessor, Václav Klaus, was referring to the ongoing political crisis in the Czech Republic and the president’s decision this week to name a new prime minister to head a technocrat government despite strong opposition from parties in the Chamber of Deputies. Critics have charged that he sidestepped the parliamentary system even though the Constitution allows the president to appoint whomever he wants.
The date for the trial of former Central Bohemian governor David Rath has been set for 7 August. Seventy-eight witnesses will be called to testify, and the Regional Court in Prague is expecting the corruption trial to continue until late October. Mr. Rath has been in police custody since last May, when he was arrested with seven million crowns – an alleged bribe. He and ten of his associates were charged with offering and accepting bribes as well as other acts of corruption.
The Social Democratic party is planning to ask a former deputy chairwoman
Marie Benešová to rescind her membership in the party, after she
the offer to become justice minister in the new cabinet that Prime
Jiří Rusnok is putting together. The Social Democratic chairman Bohuslav
Sobotka said that Mrs. Benešová’s decision contradicts the party’s
position of not entering Mr. Rusnok’s caretaker government, which has
support of the president but has faced opposition from almost all the
parliamentary parties. Mrs. Benešová said that she is not planning to
leave the party and that she feels her decision is not problematic.
The government headed by Mr. Rusnok, who was named prime minister by President Zeman on Tuesday, is still coming together but it is unclear if it will remain in office for more than a few months. So far, the other people aside from Marie Benešová who have accepted a ministerial position are Martin Pecina, who will head the Interior Ministry, and the current head of the Federation of the Food and Drink Industries, Miroslav Toman, who will be agriculture minister. It is not clear if any party will vote in favor of the Rusnok cabinet when a confidence vote is held.
Businessman Andrej Babiš has bought MAFRA, the Czech media group that publishes the major dailies Mladá fronta Dnes and Lidové noviny. He bought it from Rheinisch-Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft; the German company confirmed the sale on Wednesday. The terms of the deal were not disclosed but the businessman said he would not introduce any changes at MAFRA which would lead to layoffs, and said that he will not have a position in any decision-making bodies. The sale must still be cleared by the anti-monopoly office. Mr Babiš has political ambitions: he founded a party named ANO 2011 which aims to run in the next general election.
This year’s floods have claimed 15 lives and affected a total of 970 municipalities around the Czech Republic, according to the outgoing Environment Minister Tomáš Chapula. Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Mr. Chalupa said that towns and cities have so far used more than 750 million crowns from the Finance Ministry’s emergency fund for post-flood expenses, and 200 million more were recommended to be released for repairs. Some 50,000 police officers and fire fighters as well as 10,000 soldiers helped with the flood defense preparations and rescue efforts, having helped evacuate over 26,000 people and rescued around 600.
Around 700 people marched through the center of Prague in memory of the victims of communism on the 63rd anniversary of the execution of Milada Horáková, the democratic MP sentenced to death in a show trial. The organizers of the event also wanted to draw attention to the fact that the crimes of the communist regime are being forgotten. The event was attended by many middle and high school students, as well as people who were persecuted under communism, including political prisoners like Bishop Václav Malý and former hockey star Augustin Bubník.
A day before the scheduled Friday opening of the International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary, one of its main celebrity guests, the actress Audrey Tautou, informed the organizers that she will not be able to attend. The French star was scheduled to attend the opening ceremony, where her newest film Mood Indigo will be screened. The director of the film, Michel Gondry, will be introducing the movie instead. Another guest of honor at the festival, John Travolta, will be arriving in the west Bohemian spa town on Friday.
Top Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych is going on to the third round of the Wimbledon tournament after defeating the German Daniel Brands in three sets on Thursday. A less well known female player, Karolína Plíšková, will continue to the second round on Wimbledon grass for the first time in her career, having beaten the Croatian Petra Martić. Klára Zakopalová is the third Czech player that has not been knocked out yet. After a victory over the German Annike Beck, she will face Li Na from China in the third round.
The general manager of the Boston Bruins, Peter Chiarelli, has confirmed that future hall-of-famer Jaromír Jágr will not be with the club next season. The GM confirmed the decision at a press conference at TD Garden on Wednesday, in which he praised the Czech winger and said he had been happy with his game. But Jágr himself joked with reporters that had he scored 20 goals (and not finished 20 short) in the playoffs he might have been back. While the player was unable to snap his scoreless streak, he was important on a number of key plays when games went down the wire. The 41-year-old Jágr will now weigh his options but intends to remain in the NHL.