Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček will meet with Chinese
Ambassador Zhang Jianmin on Thursday to discuss a dispute relating to
Huawei and ZTE products, a spokesperson for the Czech Foreign Ministry
said. Mr. Zhang had met personally with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in
December after the Czech National Bureau for Cyber Security said the
Chinese-made products posed a security threat.
However, the two do not agree about what was said at the meeting. On Sunday, Mr. Babiš said that a Chinese Embassy statement – seeming to suggest that the Czech leader had apologised over the matter – was “nonsense and a lie”.
President Miloš Zeman’s chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, has been trying to influence decisions at key courts in the country, Respekt reported on Monday. Among the courts that Mr. Mynář attempted to influence were the Constitutional and Supreme Administrative courts, the news weekly said. These activities have been going on for several years and range from the president’s right hand man gathering information about important cases to telling courts how to decide, Respekt alleged. Prague Castle spokesman Jiří Ovčáček reacted to the report by saying that Mr. Mynář had been speaking to the judges in order to inform them about the viewpoints of the president.
Czech pensioner Jaromír Balda has confessed to cutting down trees that
landed on railroad tracks, causing two train accidents in 2017. Mr. Balda,
who is 71, told the Prague Municipal Court on Monday that he had left
leaflets at the scene bearing fake “jihadist” slogans in order to
discredit migrants, who he referred to as a “horror”.
The pensioner said that he has recovered his wits since being in jail for nearly a year and that he had not intended to hurt anyone. The case is being prosecuted as a terrorist attack and the perpetrator faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
The Ukrainian ambassador to Prague, Yevhen Perebyjnis, has hit back at a
statement by former Czech president Václav Klaus, who said on Sunday that
Ukraine was being goaded by Western political elites, including that of the
Czech Republic, to provoke Russia. Mr. Perebyjnis asked on Twitter whether
Czechoslovakia had provoked Nazi Germany to action in 1938.
Mr. Klaus said on TV Prima that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behaving cautiously and soberly and not reacting to each provocation, adding that this was fortunate. Mr. Perebyjnis asked whether Hitler too had been cautious and sober.
The Ukrainian ambassador’s comments received support from Czech MEP Jaromír Štětina and former TOP 09 leader Miroslav Kalousek.
The Supreme Audit Office has criticised the Czech military forest and
estate management company (VLS), which is owned by the Ministry of Defence,
for paying too much to build a house for a division director. Auditors said
the CZK 7.3 million construction cost was disproportionately high and
exceeded normal employee benefits.
For its part, the Ministry of Defence said that the decision to build the house was made in September 2012 and, after being finished in 2015, the building was offered for lease to the Karlovy Vary division director, who offered the highest price.
Last year over 570,000 Czech consumers changed their electricity supplier,
a record number, the Czech electricity and gas market operator OTE reported
on Monday. The figure was 60 higher than in 2017. The numbers of Czechs
switching to a different gas supplier also saw a year-on-year increase of
Analysts told the Czech News Agency that the main reason behind the trend has been the marked increase in wholesale energy prices, which are affecting the total consumer price.
Over 10,000 people took part in the first ever bird census in the Czech
Republic at the weekend. The participants sent information about the birds
they had observed in their gardens and elsewhere to the website of the
Czech Ornithological Society. Volunteers registered almost a quarter of a
million birds of dozens of species.
According to preliminary results, the most reported bird was the great tit, which finished far ahead of the tree sparrow and house sparrow.
Eleven people were hospitalised following a carbon monoxide leak at the ice
hockey arena at Prague’s Výstaviště exhibition grounds on Sunday
evening. Sixteen people inhaled the poisonous gas during a training session
for amateur hockey players. Fire officers said the carbon monoxide had
escaped from an ice resurfacing machine.
The Malá sportovní hala (Small Sports Hall) dates from the early 1960s. As well as sports events it is used as a concert venue and has hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones, Neil Young and REM.
The Chinese ambassador to Prague, Zhang Jianmin, lied about a meeting he
had with Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš just before Christmas, the
latter says. Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Mr. Babiš said both
the Czech government and state had behaved correctly with regard to a
warning from the National Bureau for Cyber Security and Information that
products made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE presented a security
After the PM met Mr. Zhang the Chinese Embassy issued a statement saying that the warning was unfounded and that it took cognizance of the fact the Czech side was striving to make amends for its errors in this regard. This was subsequently interpreted as an apology from the head of the Czech government.
Mr. Babiš on Sunday described this suggestion as “nonsense and a lie”. He told Czech TV that the Czech Republic was a sovereign state and had nothing to apologise about, adding that Mr. Zhang’s actions were highly unorthodox.
The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, is due to meet the Chinese ambassador to discuss the matter, the PM said.