The Social Democrats are planning to finalize their ballot for European elections by February 8, party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said. The ballot will be headed by leftist sociologist and columnist Jan Keller. Social Democrat leaders said the Czech Republic should become a respected member of the EU, and improve the drawing on EU funds. Voting for the European Parliament is scheduled for May.
The Czech national football team has been seeded in Pot 2 for the upcoming draw of the EURO 2016 qualification, along with Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Ukraine and four other teams. The strongest national sides including titleholders Spain are seeded in Pot 1. One team from each pot will be drawn into nine qualifications groups at a ceremony on February 23. 53 European teams will enter qualification competing for 23 spots at the final tournament to be played in France.
President Miloš Zeman has nominated Stanislav Křeček to the post of Ombudsman, following the resignation of Pavel Varvařovský late last year. Mr. Křeček has served as deputy Ombudsman since April of last year. The president’s nomination will be considered by the Senate which can put forward two nominees of its own. The only other contestant for the post is Anna Šabatová, a human rights activist, who worked for the country’s first Ombudsman, the late Otakar Motejl.
The outgoing Czech foreign minister, Jan Kohout, has expressed shock over the escalation of street violence in Kiev, Ukraine, urging President Yanukovych to end the bloodshed, release the detained activists and engage in genuine dialogue with the opposition in order to resolve the crisis. Mr. Kohout also called on the authorities to cancel the validity of laws passed last week which restrict freedom of speech and assembly and which intensified public protests in the streets of the Ukrainian capital. In a statement released on Thursday the Czech Foreign Ministry said the Czech Republic supported the transformation processes in Ukraine and would continue to do so. According to official reports three activists are reported to have been killed in the street violence on Wednesday, anti-government protesters say as many as seven people may have died in the clashes.
Prague is joining the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF). The non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Beijing has 72 members, all tourist frequented cities who benefit from an exchange of information and know how in the field. According to Prague city councilors, who approved the motion, Prague’s membership in the WCTF can help open the way to the Chinese market.
The immunity committee of the lower house has recommended the house release former Prague mayor and Civic Democrat MP Bohuslav Svoboda for prosecution. The police have asked for him to be stripped of his immunity within an investigation into dubious tenders in the hugely overpriced project Opencard. Independent auditors put the losses at 25 million crowns. Svoboda had dismissed allegations of abuse of office and manipulation of public tenders, saying he is ready to defend himself in court.
President Miloš Zeman has been meeting with more nominees for ministerial posts in the new center-left government. Despite having voiced objections to several candidates in the government line-up the one-on-one meetings with individual nominees are proceeding without a hitch and the president has given no indication that he would refuse to accept any of the nominations.
The Czech men’s tennis number one Tomáš Berdych has been knocked out in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, after losing 3-6 7-6 6-7 6-7 to Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland in Melbourne on Thursday. It was the first time that Berdych, who is 28, had reached the last four of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.
Shares in New World Resources dropped more that 19 percent to a five-month low on Thursday after the loss-making Czech miner announced a major review of its capital structure. NWR announced on Wednesday that its majority shareholder BXR was ready to invest new equity into a revamped capital structure and that it would consider all options. Shares traded at 21.20 crowns on Thursday morning, down 14.7 percent. They have already lost 75 percent in the past year as low cola prices and lack of demand pushed NWR into losses.
The likely next Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, says he plans to invite Vitali Klitschko and perhaps other Ukrainian opposition leaders to Prague. However, Mr. Zaorálek told Thursday’s edition of Lidové noviny that he did not regard it as a mistake that President Miloš Zeman had invited Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, to Prague during a visit to Kiev in October. The Czech Republic needs to speak to both sides, said Mr. Zaorálek.
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