The chairman of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, has told reporters that he is set to meet President Miloš Zeman on Friday. The likely next prime minister has called on the head of state to implement the steps necessary for the formation of a new government as soon as possible. Mr. Sobotka, who cancelled his programme for Tuesday after coming down with a cold, will present Mr. Zeman with copies of the coalition agreements that he and the leaders of ANO and the Christian Democrats have just signed. The Social Democrats chief on Monday called on the president to name him prime minister as soon as possible. There has been speculation that Mr. Zeman may attempt to refuse some ministerial nominees.
One proposed cabinet member who is not popular with the president, senator Jiří Dienstbier, has rejected speculation he could lead the Social Democrats’ campaign for European elections later this year. Mr. Dienstbier is in the frame to become minister without portfolio and a member of the government’s legislative council. He told Czech Radio on Tuesday that if he were to leave for Brussels the move would be perceived as the Social Democrats surrendering to Mr. Zeman. Other proposed ministers who the president may attempt to block are Lubomir Zaorálek, set to take the foreign affairs portfolio, and Martin Stropnický, in line for defence.
After a New Year’s lunch with the president on Tuesday, the chairman of the Senate, Milan Štěch, indicated that Mr. Zeman did have a problem with some nominees for ministerial posts. Mr. Štěch told the news site novinky.cz that the president had “comments” on more than one person, while all three parties in the emerging coalition were concerned. Lower house speaker Jan Hamáček, who was also invited to the Prague Castle meal, said the head of state was likely to make his position clear himself.
The outgoing minister of the interior, Martin Pecina, has removed Martin Červíček as president of the Czech Republic’s police force. The move brings to an end a bizarre situation in which there were two police chiefs in the wake of the reinstatement of Petr Lessy when charges against him were dropped. The man in the frame for the interior portfolio in the emerging government, Milan Chovanec, has indicated that he will not keep Mr. Lessy on as police president. The latter has indicated that he is ready to resign.
The Czech anti-trust agency has halted a tender process for the renovation of the National Museum in Prague. The move comes after a complaint from the company OHL Železniční stavby, which was excluded. The director of the museum, Michal Lukeš, says the firm was not considered because it had sent its tender to the wrong address and had taken the step in an effort to be included. He said he did not think this or similar moves would lead to a delay in the renovation project, which has been underway for two years and is due for completion in 2015. The contract is worth CZK 3 billion.
The mayor of Suchdol, Petr Hejl, has met with Deputy Foreign Minister Jiří Schneider to voice his concerns over public safety in the wake of an incident last week at the Palestinian embassy in the Prague district. Palestine’s ambassador was killed in an explosion when a safe was opened and several unlicensed weapons were subsequently found at the embassy, leading the local authority to call for the diplomatic office to be moved. Mr. Schneider said the Foreign Ministry shared the mayor’s concerns and was taking steps in connection with the matter.
UK firm National Express has established a branch in the Czech Republic with a view to entering the country’s transport market, iDnes.cz reported. A spokesperson for National Express, Europe’s second biggest private transport company, told the news website that in the Czech Republic it was at present only interested in trains. The head of its Czech office, Jan Paroubek, was previously involved in the privately owned rail companies RegioJet and Leo Express.
The House at the Stone Bell on Prague’s Old Town Square will host an exhibition of work by US director Tim Burton from the end of March until early August, a spokesperson for the gallery said on Tuesday. The filmmaker is set to appear in person at the opening of the show, which will include drawings, illustrations, puppets, costumes and design objects from his movies. Known for his gothic sensibility, the director has helmed such films as Edward Scissorhands, Mars Attacks! and Alice in Wonderland.
Record high temperatures were registered at several places in the Czech Republic on Tuesday. The warmest spot was Klatovy in West Bohemia, where thermometers reached 13.9 degrees Celsius, 3.3 degrees higher than a record set in 1948. It was around 10 degrees Celsius in Prague, a few degrees below the highest temperature for January 7 – of 12.8 degrees Celsius – recorded at the city’s Clementinum in 1999.
Czech ice hockey coach Alois Hadamczik has called up such veterans as Jaromír Jágr and Petr Nedvěd for the country’s squad for the Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi next month. Seventeen players from the NHL have been included in the roster, with Tomáš Plekanec of Montreal Canadiens being named captain. It will be the fifth Olympics for Jágr, who has not ruled out playing a sixth in 2018, when he will be 46.
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