The ANO party of the ruling coalition has asked to join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), the third strongest group in the European Parliament, newly elected MEP Pavel Telička told journalists on Monday. A decision is expected in the coming weeks. ANO won the recent European elections in the Czech Republic, gaining four out of the country’s 21 mandates in the EP. ALDE leader, former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, has already voiced interest in cooperating with ANO.
The Prague Department of Housing and Urban Development has given its approval to locate a statue in honour of the two thousand Czechs and Slovaks who fought in Britain’s Royal Air Force during World War II in Klárov, a square beside Manes Bridge. The approval came despite vehement protests from the Czech National Heritage Institute which turned down the application on the grounds that the Winged Lion Memorial was “inappropriate and incompatible” with this part of the historical centre of Prague, which is on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The statue, designed by Colin Spofforth, was paid for by the British community here in Prague. It is to be unveiled on June 17 at a ceremony attended among others by June by Winston Churchill’s grandson, British Member of Parliament Nicholas Soames.
The state budget showed a 9.5 billion crown gap at the end of May, posting a deficit for the first time since the beginning of this year, while in April it showed a surplus of almost 27 billion, the Finance Ministry said on Monday. The figure is nevertheless the best May result since at least 2000, the ministry said. In May of last year, the budget showed a deficit of nearly 40 billion crowns. The budget approved for the entire year envisages a deficit of 112 billion crowns.
In its annual recommendations to member states, the European Commission has advised the Czech Republic to simplify its tax system, improve tax collection, implement a civil service law by the end of the year and address discrimination on the labour market.The report says that the discrimination of women on the labour market is one of the worst in the EU, both in terms of the differences in salary for men and women doing the same job and the fact that the lack of nurseries and pre-school facilities allow only five percent of mothers to return to work as soon as they would like after taking maternity leave, while the EU average is 30 percent. The difference in salaries between men and women is reportedly one of the highest in the EU, with women consequently getting lower pensions as well.
Liberec Zoo is celebrating the birth of a precious white tiger, the third successful birth since the breeding program was launched in 1994. The tigers’ pavilion has been closed to visitors and will remain so until the end of June. People can follow the cub’s development on the zoo’s website. There are only several dozen white tigers left in the wild.
People from the Cheb region have started filing insurance claims for damages caused by Saturday’s earthquake. Although the region suffers occasional tremors, Saturday’s quake measured 4.5 on the Richter scale and is the second strongest quake measured in the region over a century. Preliminary damage estimates are at around half a million crowns. Most people are reporting cracks in walls, broken windows and chimneys.
Former environment minister Tomáš Podivínský is to be the country’s new ambassador to Germany, according to the weekly Respekt. Respect says Podivínský’s nomination has won approval from the foreign ministry, the prime minister and the president. He is to replace the outgoing ambassador to Berlin Rudolf Jindrák who has served in the post for eight years, the longest tenure in the country’s modern history.
Deputy Justice Minister Hana Marvanová has announced she is leaving her post at the ministry and returning to her private practice as a lawyer. She made the announcement late on Sunday following a meeting with the head of the ANO party Andrej Babiš. Mr. Babiš called the meeting when conflict between the party’s Justice Minister Helena Valkova and Hana Marvanová reached a head. He asked Ms. Marvanová to serve as his own legal advisor at the Finance Ministry. The justice minister and her deputy reportedly failed to agree on a number of issues including lawyers’ fees and the appointment of court officials. Hana Marvanová is to be replaced by Robert Pelikán the Finance Ministry’s Legal Department head next week.
Josef Hušbauer of champions Sparta Prague has been voted player of the season in the Czech soccer league. The midfielder, who is 24, topped a poll of managers and captains. Sparta boss Vítězslav Lavička was voted manager of the year while Patrik Hrošovský of Viktoria Plzeň picked up the discovery of the year prize at a ceremony in Prague on Sunday night. Hušbauer is currently with the Czech squad ahead of a friendly game with Austria in Olomouc on Tuesday night.
The number of freshly registered cases of HIV in the Czech Republic has shot up this year, the news website iDnes.cz reported. Ninety-nine people were found to have the disease by the end of April, two-thirds more than in the same period last year and more than in the whole of 2006. In April alone 25 fresh cases were registered. Eighty-four percent of the Czech Republic’s total of 2,221 known HIV sufferers are men. Doctors say the country ranks among European states with a relatively low incidence of the disease but say they are alarmed by the recent sharp rise in the number of patients.