The Christian Democrats elected their leader on Friday afternoon at a party
conference in Brno. In a two-round election Marek Výborný was voted in as
the new head of the party, beating Marián Jurečka in the second round. He
replaces Pavel Bělobrádek, the longest serving leader since the Velvet
Mr. Bělobrádek chose to step down after eight years in charge, saying that the party needs new dynamics and that he wishes to spend more time with his family. The Christian Democrats are currently in the opposition. In the last general elections they received 5.8 percent of the vote.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has said he wants to talk to the
Minister of Industry and Trade Marta Nováková about an incident on
Wednesday, where a representative of Taiwan was forced to leave a
diplomatic meeting, following a request to do so by the Chinese ambassador.
According to the Czech News Agency, the foreign minister has already discussed the matter with the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs Lubomír Zaorálek, who fears that the Trade and Industy Ministry’s decision could set a dangerous precedent.
The Foreign Minister apparently reassured Mr. Zaorálek that the Czech Republic will not let China excert pressure and that the agreed principles for reciprocal meetings remain valid.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Curtis Scaparrotti, has praised
the Czech Republic for its ‘robust [military] modernisation plans’,
saying that the country belongs to those European states with a clear plan
on how to increase defence spending and honour the commitment of reaching 2
percent of GDP. His statement came on Friday during a visit to Prague,
where he met with the chiefs of staff of NATO’s Central European member
states as well as with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
The Czech Army’s Chief of Staff, Aleš Opata, said he has no doubt his country will fulfil the pledge made at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales, which set out a deadline for increasing spending to 2 percent of GDP on defence by 2024.
The Czech National Bank has launched a special website informing currency
exchange clients on their rights. Clients will be able to see the
website’s address on the payslips they receive once they do a transaction
at a currency exchange office.
The move is a consequence of a new law amendment that will start to apply from April 1st. It aims to strengthen the position of clients by allowing them to cancel the any transaction below EUR 1000 up to three hours after it has taken place.
Both the Association of Exchange Offices and the Czech Banking Association say they have reservations to the new law.
Czech Railways have announced they will buy 55 regional trains from the
Škoda Transportation-Škoda Vagonka consortium in a deal worth around CZK
7 billion. The new trains should start operating in 2021, the Czech News
The order has been divided into two contracts. The first counts on the delivery of 50 RegioPanter electric trains. The second contract seeks to deliver five, larger 365-seat trains, which should operate in Northern Moravia.
Czech Railways’ Director General, Miroslav Kupec, says the trains will retain the current comfort levels, including Wi-Fi connection, wheelchair access and electric sockets.
Ammar Raheem Mahmod, the Iraqi citizen who was detained in Prague this week
on suspicion of terrorist connections, will be sent into extradition
custody, the Municipal Court ruled on Friday. The suspect is to be
extradited to Austria within the next 10 days.
Mr. Mahmod is suspected of belonging to a terror cell that included another Iraqi citizen currently held in custody by Austrian police on suspicion of being behind two terror attack attempts that sought to derail high-speed trains in Germany last year.
Municipal Court judges have decided to extradite the woman who arrived with Mr. Mahmod, also an Iraqi citizen, as well.
Jiří Pospíšil, the leader of TOP 09, one of the coalition parties that
make up the current leadership of Prague City Hall, said that the Pirate
Party’s intention to use electrometers to identify and subsequently tax
unoccupied flats in Prague is the first coalition crisis the new leadership
faces. Likening the Pirate Party’s idea to a “left wing experiment”,
which “was in the Communist Party manifesto”, he said TOP 09 will send
the Pirate Party a letter calling for a conciliation meeting.
Prague’s mayor and the leader of the city’s Pirate Party, Zdeněk Hřib, is currently on an official visit in Taiwan and refused to comment any further until he returns to Prague on Monday.
The Slovak film By a Sharp Knife directed by Teodor Kuhn won the New Europe
competition section at the international Prague film festival Febiofest
which ended with a gala ceremony on Thursday night. The film is based on
the true story of a man whose son is murdered by a gang of neo-Nazis and he
is forced to seek justice himself.
The Amnesty International Febiofest Award went to The Load by director Ognjen Glavonić. The festival also bestowed the Kristián award for lifetime contribution to cinema to the Czech Oscar-winning film director Jiří Menzel.
In tennis, Karolína Plíšková advanced to the Miami Open final for the
first time in her career on Thursday night, after defeating second-seeded
Simona Halep of Romania 7-5, 6-1. She overcame the reigning French champion
after just one hour and 13 minutes.
The 27-year-old Czech, who reached at least the quarter-finals of every WTA event she played this year, will attempt to claim her second title of the season.