Many ministers of the outgoing centre-right government have refused an invitation from President Miloš Zeman for dinner at Prague Castle on Monday, in what is perceived as an obvious snub to the head of state in the wake of recent developments. No ministers from the TOP 09 party will be present, according to the CTK news agency, and Karolina Peake the head of LIDEM, the smallest party in government has also refused the invitation. It is not clear how many Civic Democrat ministers may show up. The centre-right coalition has criticized the head of state for ignoring the fact that the centre right parties collected 101 signatures -a majority in the lower house – in support of their nominee for prime minister Miroslava Němcová. They accuse Mr. Zeman of forming his own “puppet” cabinet.
Thousands of people are streaming to the Velehrad pilgrimage site to attend celebrations marking the 1150th anniversary of the arrival of Saints Cyril and Methodius to Great Moravia to spread the Christian faith and lay the foundations of literacy with the Glagolitic alphabet. A divine mass at the Velehrad basilica at midday Thursday was attended by high church dignataries, the papal legate, Cardinal Josip Bozanić of Zagreb, state dignitaries and foreign diplomats. The Days of People of Goodwill include a number of cultural events, a concert, exhibitions, lectures and conferences. Hundreds of officers are helping to direct traffic to the pilgrimage site.
After a week of escalating racial tension in České Budějovice, there are fears that the coming weekend could bring more street clashes between ultra-right groups and the town’s Romany community. Social networks reflect growing racial tension and there are invitations to join anti-Roma demonstrations in the south Bohemian city over the weekend. Ten people were injured in last week’s street protests as the police strove to maintain order and keep the two groups apart. The city’s mayor Juraj Thoma has appealed to citizens not to join ultra-right demonstrators and keep off the streets.
Passenger car sales in the Czech Republic fell by 14 percent in the first half of this year, representatives of the Car Importers Association said at a press conference on Thursday. In June alone, passenger cars sales reportedly dropped by one fifth. Skoda Auto sales decreased by 18 percent, Hyundai saw a 5 percent drop, followed by Volkswagen with a 2 percent fall in sales. Customers bought mainly small and mini cars, which accounted for almost one quarter of overall sales.
The Boston Bruins, in a reversal, may try and again sign Czech hockey player Jaromír Jágr, several news sites report. Jágr was slated to leave the team following the Bruins’ defeat in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals – a move originally confirmed by General Manager Peter Chiarelli. But after forward Nathan Horton said he wanted to test the market, Chiarelli reacted by suggesting the club might rethink its position. Jágr went scoreless throughout the playoffs but was crucial on key plays, not least in games that went down the wire.
Tomáš Berdych was not the only Czech player knocked out at the Wimbledon Championships on Wednesday: while Andrea Hlaváčková and Lucie Hradecká got off to a good start in their quarter-final against Australian opponents Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua, winning the first set, it ultimately wasn’t enough. They ended up losing the match. The final score was 2:6, 6:2, 6:4.
Members of the outgoing government of the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and
LIDEM met for the last time on Wednesday before a new cabinet put together
by prime minister designate Jiří Rusnok is named. The new interim
cabinet is not yet complete and a new environment minister and finance
minister, for example,
have yet to be named. The caretaker government is expected to be named
next week and will have 30 days to ask for a confidence vote in the lower
Absent on Wednesday were Justice Minister Pavel Blažek and the deputy prime minister, Karolína Peake. On the agenda was an assessment of the overall damage caused by floods which hit the country last month as well as the release of 200 million crowns for volunteer fire fighters. In the same cabinet session, the government opted to raise the budget for science and scientific research. Next year, the sector should see an increase of 1.5 billion crowns. The current annual budget for scientific research is 26.1 billion.
The Vietnamese and Belorussian communities in the Czech Republic will have their own representatives on the government’s Council for National Minorities, the outgoing coalition agreed on Wednesday. The news was released by the human rights commissioner Monika Šimůnková. Until now, representatives of both communities took part as guest attendees. Adam Kalita, of the NGO Pahonia, will represent the Belorussians, while Huu Uyen Pham, of the NGO Van Lang, will represent the Vietnamese community. The new members will be able to help form legislation regarding minorities. Until now 12 minorities were represented: Bulgarian, Croatian, Hungarian, German, Polish, Roma, Ruthenian, Russian, Greek, Slovak, Serbian, and Ukrainian.
Outgoing Prime Minister Petr Nečas has sent a letter to the State Attorney’s office stating that he is ready to provide information relevant to the case involving his former chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová. Mr Nečas is hoping that his testimony will help limit the time that suspects in the case remain in police custody. Ms Nagyová and seven other former politicians and public officials were arrested in an police raid in mid-June. The former chief-of-staff is a suspect in two cases, one of which is related to her allegedly ordering military intelligence to spy on the prime minister’s wife. These circumstances caused Mr Nečas to resign from office, precipitating the current government crisis.
The Czech Republic was the worst country in the EU last year in terms of drawing and reporting European funding, according to the European Commission’s annual report. The document criticizes the Czech finance ministry’s inability to carry out proper checks of money received from the EU’s operational funds. As a result of the ministry’s failure to install a functional system of oversight, recipients and bodies distributing funding made a number of mistakes and even committed fraud, resulting in significant losses for the state budget. The ministry admitted past mistakes, saying that most of them happened because audits were carried out by the institutions that distributed the money, not by the finance ministry itself.