Czech President Miloš Zeman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
have officially opened a new Czech House in Jerusalem. The facility will be
home to a Czech Centre and CzechTrade, CzechInvest and CzechTourism
Mr. Netanyahu said at Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony that Israel had no better friend in the Eastern Hemisphere than the Czech Republic. For his part, Mr. Zeman said he firmly believed that on his next visit to the country he would open a Czech Embassy in Jerusalem.
The Czech head of state advocates moving the Czech Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The switch is not currently planned by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The number of newly registered HIV cases in the Czech Republic has
evidently fallen slightly, Czech Television reported on Tuesday. While last
year 254 new cases of HIV were recorded, the number for the first 10 months
of this year was 178.
Experts say the decline can most likely be attributed to the introduction of new medicines to treat HIV some years ago.
Gay men account for two-thirds of newly discovered cases of HIV in the Czech Republic and their number has fallen year-on-year. By contrast, the number of heterosexuals found to have the disease has increased by a quarter.
The Prague authorities have taken the first step to reintroducing tram
lines running down Wenceslas Square. At a meeting on Tuesday, the recently
elected council instructed the transport authority to begin preparations
for a connection between existing tracks on Vinohradská St. and those
crossing the lower half of the city’s main thoroughfare.
Deputy mayor for transport Adam Scheinherr says the lines could be in place within four years. Trams went from the National Museum down Wenceslas Square until the 1980s.
Another line running from Vinohradská St. past Prague’s Main Train Station is also planned for a later date, officials say.
The Czech Ministry of Defence is waiting impatiently for the government to
sign off on the biggest purchase in the modern history of the Czech Army,
Právo reported on Tuesday. The military aims to purchase 210 infantry
fighting vehicles at a cost of CZK 53 billion, the newspaper said, adding
that there is cross-party backing for the move.
Four European manufacturers are expected to take part in the tender process. One condition will be that a significant part of the production and servicing take place in conjunction with VOP CZ, a Czech state enterprise run by the Ministry of Defence.
Customs officers at Prague airport have caught a man carrying around six
kilogrammes of cocaine, a spokesperson said on Tuesday. The non-Czech
national, who is 25, had travelled from Rio de Janeiro via Lisbon. Officers
discovered the drug in a piece of false-bottomed leather luggage.
It is the second case in a short period in which Prague customs officials have uncovered cocaine being smuggled from Brazil.
Coalition parties ANO and the Social Democrats have agreed to set up a new
commission on pensions. It will explore changes to the pension system and
should contain party representatives, experts, academics and people from
seniors’ organisations and NGOs.
ANO and the Social Democrats have also agreed to increase the state children’s allowance. From 2020 families will get a total of CZK 300,000, up from the present amount of CZK 220,000.
American and Czech soldiers are under investigation in connection with the
death of an Afghan commando who was beaten while in NATO custody in western
Afghanistan, the New York Times reported on Monday.
The commando, Wahidullah Khan, was accused of killing a Czech soldier last month in one of four deadly insider attacks this year by Afghan forces on NATO troops. Jan Pejšek, a spokesman for the Czech Ministry of Defence, has confirmed the ongoing investigation, but strongly denied accusations that Czech troops were involved in Mr. Khan’s death.
On October 22, Khan opened fire on a group of Czech soldiers at Shindand air base, in western Afghanistan. The attack killed one Czech soldier and wounded two others. He was arrested by Afghan troops and was taken into custody by Western forces. By the time he was returned to Afghan forces, around midnight, he had been beaten and was unconscious, Afghan officials said.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has issued a statement condemning Russia’s use
of force against Ukraine’s naval vessels. The ministry says the blockade
of the Kerch Strait by Russia is in breach of international law.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said in a tweet on Monday that Russian appropriation of the Sea of Azov was as unacceptable as its annexation of Crimea. The Czech foreign minister said he expected a joint EU statement on the matter, adding that the Czech Republic would be ready to join international sanctions over the incident.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš was questioned by the police on Monday in
connection with an investigation into his son’s alleged abduction to
Crimea.According to Czech Radio, the prime minister spent close to two
hours at a Prague police station giving testimony with regard to the case.
The prime minister, who claims there was no abduction, says journalists used his son who suffers from schizophrenia, to create a slander campaign against him.
The opposition called a vote of no-confidence over the scandal last Friday, but the prime minister’s government survived it.
In a related development, according to the weekly Euro, investigators working on the Stork’s Nest case in which the prime minister is suspected of EU subsidy fraud say they will need more time to assemble evidence. The investigation is thus unlikely to be concluded by the end of the year.