NATO should not deploy its troops in Ukraine even in the event of further acts of aggression on the part of Russia, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement for the ctk news agency on Thursday. The prime minister stressed that since NATO’s character and role are essentially defensive the alliance should only respond with military force if one of its member states comes under attack. The statement is in sharp contrast with the view expressed by President Miloš Zeman who has urged the toughest possible EU sanctions and even a NATO military presence in Ukraine should Russia try to annex any other parts of the country. The crisis in Ukraine is expected to be high on the agenda of Thursdays talks with the visiting NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen’.
Regional Development Minister Věra Jourová has won a 2.7 million compensation claim for loss of trust and loss of profit in connection with her month-long detention in 2006. The then-deputy regional affairs minister was arrested and charged with bribery and abuse of office. She was suspected of having accepted a two million crown bribe from the mayor of the town of Budišov for allegedly securing an EU grant for the reconstruction of Budišov Chateau. In 2008 she was cleared of all charges.
A foreign man found in Norway suffering from memory loss and speaking five languages including Czech is very probably a 36-year-old Czech citizen. The Czech police said on their website that a number of members of the man’s family had recognised him. On Tuesday the police in Norway appealed for information as to the identity of the man, who was found in a snowdrift in Oslo in mid-December. There were indications that his hands had been bound for some time and he told the news agency AFP that he been robbed and sexually assaulted.
The secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is due to hold talks with the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, in a visit to Prague on Thursday. The two men are expected to discuss the country’s role in NATO, the Ukraine crisis and extending a Czech military mission in Afghanistan. A local newspaper reported on Wednesday that Mr. Rasmussen would also deliver a report saying the Czech army would be incapable of taking part in NATO missions unless military spending increased markedly. The Danish politician will also meet Czech President Miloš Zeman and other senior officials.
The governing parties have agreed to raise more money for the healthcare system by raising payments to state health insurers. The fees should increase from the start of July and bring some CZK 2.1 million. That sum would compensate for a fall-off in health care funding caused by the centre-left government’s abolishment of fees for hospital stays. Some six million people will see their contribution to the state insurers increase from CZK 787 to CZK 845 a month. In the run-up to Wednesday’s decision the coalition parties had expressed disagreement on the matter.
Finance minister and ANO chief Andrej Babiš is the country’s most trustworthy politician, suggests an opinion poll conducted by the CVVM agency at the start of last month. Some 53 percent of respondents said they trusted Mr. Babiš, who is also a billionaire businessman. He was followed in the survey by his ANO colleague Martin Stropnický, who is minister of defence. Recent opinion polls have put ANO ahead of the Social Democrats, who came first in elections in October.
World number six Petra Kvitová will lead the Czech women’s tennis team in a Fed Cup semi-finals tie with defending champions Italy in Ostrava next weekend. Kvitová had missed the last round due to illness. The other members of the team are Lucie Šafářová, Klára Koukalová and doubles specialist Andrea Hlaváčková. If the Czechs get past the Italians it will be their third appearance in the final in four years.
The Supreme Court has set the amounts of illicit drugs that the police and judiciary should regard as “more than a small amount”. The new figures are stricter than the previous ones in the case of marijuana, with possession of 10 grammes (down from 15) considered a criminal offence. Similarly possessing 1.5 grammes (down from 2) of meta-amphetamines is illegal. However, the amounts are for orientation and other factors also apply, a court spokesperson said. Upper limits for possession were previously set by a government edict, but that was struck down by the Constitutional Court.
The tax authorities have fined the Office of the Government more than half a billion crowns for paying an excessively high sum to a company for audiovisual services during the Czech presidency of the EU in 2009, Právo reported on Wednesday. The Office of the Government is considering appealing, the newspaper said. An official told Czech Television the fine could prove fatal to the institution, as it was many times its annual budget. Investigators said the company ProMoPro had received over CZK 380 million more than it should have for the provision of audiovisual services. No tender was held for the contract. Twelve people have been charged in connection with the matter.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, says the recently reelected Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban, is a genuine leader, a type lacking in contemporary politics. Mr. Zeman made the comment in a message of congratulations to Mr. Orban after his Fidesz party came first in elections at the weekend. Mr. Zeman wrote that the strength of support regularly won by the party showed that Hungarians also regarded Mr. Orban as a genuine leader.