Green Party leader Ondřej Liška resigned from his post at a meeting of the party leadership on Sunday. Mr. Liška, who has led the party since 2009, announced his decision shortly after the party’s poor showing in elections to the European Parliament. The party won only 3.7 percent of the vote, failing to cross the five percent margin needed to win seats in the assembly. Ondřej Liška said he was taking personal responsibility for the party’s defeat and noted that was greatly disappointed by the low voter turnout. The party will be run by its first deputy Jana Drápalová, until a new leader is elected in the autumn.
The Czech Foreign Ministry says it has no information which would confirm that Czech nationals have been taken hostage by pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Johana Grohova said on Sunday that no Czechs were currently taking part in observer missions in Ukraine and the ministry had no reports of any Czech national gone missing in the country. The statement came shortly after pro-Russian rebel leader Miroslav Rudenko said pro-Russian forces had taken hostage a large number of foreign soldiers including Czech and Polish nationals. The Czech embassy in Kiev and the Czech Defense Ministry also say they have no information which would confirm the claim.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has rejected an appeal by Bavarian Social Affairs Minister Emilia Müller for Prague to consider rescinding the Beneš decrees which sanctioned the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million Sudeten Germans from the border areas of Czechoslovakia. Ms. Müller said at a meeting of the Sudeten German Landsmannschaft that the decrees were unjust and have no place in the European legal order. The Czech prime minister countered that this painful chapter of Czech-German history had been addressed in the 1997 Czech-German declaration and the Czech government had no reason to question the validity of the decrees or reopen painful issues relating to WWII.
The price of last-minute holidays is currently the cheapest in five years, according to the sales portal Invia.cz. For some destinations the price of a week week-long holidays is at around 5,000 crowns, which presents a 70 percent cost cut. The price drop runs counter to expectations and Invia says it is likely to be short-lived since it is fuelled by the need to fill chartered planes to capacity.
Attending Ground Forces’ Day at the military training ground in Strašice, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka pledged to increase defence spending, saying the government should earmark 43.5 billion crowns for military spending in 2015 and gradually raise the sum is subsequent years. The Czech Republic has cut its military spending in recent years and at present spends just over 1 percent of the equivalent of its GDP on defence. This falls short of the 2 percent target set by NATO. According to the army chief-of-staff, Petr Pavel, the military would need at least 50 billion crowns a year to fulfil its commitments to the alliance.
Czech Radio opened its doors to the public on Saturday giving people a chance to view the process of live broadcasting, pre-recording of children’s stories and minute plays and meet with popular radio personalities. Guided tours are available between 9 am and 5 pm and the public is being invited to view a collection of historic radio receivers or visit the radio store to buy recordings of successful radio plays or concerts by the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra.
Beekeepers in the Louny region report loosing thousands of bees in the past week and have voiced the suspicion that this may be due to an as yet unidentified chemical spray that was used on fields in the vicinity. The company that farms the crops has denied any connection saying it had applied a standard spray commonly used in the area. The Veterinary Office has taken samples of the crops and the matter is being investigated. If dangerous toxic substances were used in the area the firm would face a steep fine and possibly lose its state subsidies.
The D1 highway between Prague and Brno had to be closed to traffic in both directions for close to an hour shortly after midnight on Saturday due to a runaway horse. The horse reportedly bolted from a stationary van. The van was transporting two horses and because one of the animals had become increasingly nervous the accompanying vet opened the door to apply a tranquilizer. In the meantime the other horse got away.
Doctors have issued health warnings in connection with the ongoing heat wave which is affecting central Europe. Temperatures in the Czech Republic are around 30 degrees Celsius and are expected to rise further hitting 35 degrees on Tuesday. Elderly people and chronically ill people suffering from diabetes and heart disorders are at heightened risk and are being advised to stay out of the sun and increase their intake of fluids.
A new poll released by the STEM agency suggests that the popularity of ANO leader Andrej Babiš has continued to increase. The survey found that 66 percent of respondents viewed the businessman turned politician positively. The ANO movement clinched its first success last year, finishing a close second in its first Parliamentary elections. Defence Minister Martin Stropnický finished second in the survey, and Social Democrat Minister for Human Rights Jiří Dienstbier, third. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka was fourth and the leader of the controversial Dawn Party, Tomio Okamura, fifth.