The Social Democratic chairman Bohuslav Sobotka met with President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday afternoon for the first time since the October elections. Since the Social Democrats received the most votes in the elections, it is expected that the president will most likely charge Mr. Sobotka with putting together the next government. During the Wednesday meeting the president did not do so, though speaking after the meeting, Mr. Sobotka said he expects this to happen next week. Mr. Zeman said earlier this week that he does not want to confirm a new government before he recovers from his recent knee injury. Mr. Sobotka delayed the traditional meeting with the president for two weeks after the general elections, because of an upheaval in the party right after the elections.
A number of right-wing extremist groups are planning on staging demonstrations in the center of Prague on Sunday during celebrations of a state holiday marking the Day of Freedom and Democracy. The Worker’ Youth group is planning on marching from Wenceslas Square through the historical center of the city. Traditionally on November 17th, the Czech Republic commemorates Nazi repressions of Czechoslovak university students in 1939 and the student demonstrations in 1989, which eventually led to the fall of the Communist regime.
Some residents of the town of Dobrovíz, where the internet shopping giant Amazon is planning to build one of its Central European distribution hubs, are protesting against the American company’s decision. Locals are concerned with the damage to the environment that will be caused by the construction and operation of the 95,000-square-meter warehouse, as well as the burden on local infrastructure from approximately 450 lorries that will be coming in and out of the complex on a daily basis starting in the second half of next year. The town’s mayor said that he has not seen any exact plans of the project and has not yet met with either the developer or Amazon representatives, though those meetings are in the plans. Amazon made the announced that it has chosen the industrial complex in Dobrovíz near the Václav Havel airport and another location near Brno for two new distribution centers over a month ago.
Leaders of the miners’ unions have reached an agreement with the management of the coal mining company OKD on a new collective contract until 2018. OKD employees called off a series of major strikes planned for the upcoming weeks. The unions threatened strikes primarily because the company was unwilling to meet their demands on employee bonuses. The agreement negotiations, which have been going on for the past 13 months, were further complicated by the austerity measures that OKD, a subsidiary of New World Resources (NWR), began introducing this year in response to a worsening situation on the coal market.
The Czech Republic is set to reopen its embassy in Luxembourg after little over a year. The diplomatic mission was closed at the end of last year but is set to begin operating again from next February. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the move on its website, saying it was intended to support the development and strengthening of traditionally strong relations between the two states. The previous Czech government shut a number of the country’s embassies as a cost-cutting measure.
The PPF investment group has bought a majority stake in the O2 Arena, a multi-functional structure in Prague that hosts ice hockey games and cultural events, the news website Aktuálně.cz reported. PPF is owned by Petr Kellner, the country’s richest person. PPF was recently in the news in connection with its takeover of the mobile operator Telefonica Czech Republic.
A group representing the disabled has demanded an apology from President Zeman after he said appointing a prime minister was a matter of dignity that could not be conducted from a wheelchair. The National Council of the Handicapped issued a statement on Tuesday describing the president’s comment as inappropriate given his position and insulting to the disabled.
A new exhibition in Prague highlights underground samizdat literature produced under the Communist system in Czechoslovakia. The show, which is at the Lucerna Passage in the city centre, is entitled Samizdat and Dispatch Series, with the second term referring to a series of publications set up by then dissident and playwright Václav Havel and his friends in 1975. The exhibition features period documents and photographs.
The Communist Party say they will put forward legislation in the Chamber of Deputies allowing for a referendum on church restitution. The state has begun returning nationalised property worth CZK 75 billion to various churches, along with CZK 59 billion in compensation for unreturned assets. However, the issue has been highly divisive and the Communists say the restitution deal is disadvantageous to the state. Leader Vojtěch Filip says the party will seek support for a referendum from the Social Democrats, ANO and Dawn.
The president has cancelled all foreign trips planned for the remainder of this year due to his knee injury, an official at Prague Castle announced on Tuesday. A trip to Serbia and Romania had already been called off, while the latest announcement means the head of state will not now make a visit to Czech troops stationed in Afghanistan. A scheduled visit to Prague by the president of Singapore has also been postponed.
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