In a video-greeting to the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party on the
occasion of its weekend party conference, President Miloš Zeman said he
does not consider the party to be extremist, and finds the label
“radical” more suited to its nature. Radical parties are a legitimate
part of the political spectrum, Mr. Zeman noted.
The president said he shared the party’s preference for direct elections, noting that he himself had been elected in this way and supported the institution of public referenda.
He was critical however of the party’s negative stand to Czech participation in foreign missions, saying that international terrorism must be fought by actions not just words and every democratic country had a responsibility to contribute to this endeavour.
The Communist Party leadership is due to meet with representatives of the
ANO party on Tuesday to assess to what extent the minority government of
ANO and the Social Democrats is fulfilling the tolerance agreement with the
Communists which has enabled it to govern.
The Communist Party has tolerated the government in return for policy concessions and support for its own stated policy priorities, such as a tax on church restitutions and increased expenditures in the social sphere.
The Communist Party has so far shown no indication that it might withdraw this support over the scandals surrounding the prime minister or the drawn-out crisis concerning the culture minister.
Severe rain and hail storms in the past two weeks are reported to have
caused damages to the tune of one billion crowns, according to data from
Czech insurance companies. The most damages are reported from the Olomouc
region but people all around the country have been filing insurance claims
over damaged roofs, cars and gardens.
Insurance companies say they have managed to settle around a third of the claims so far. Farmers also report severe damage to the fruit harvest.
The Czech branch of the International watchdog Transparency International
has decided to sue Prime Minister Andrej Babiš over statements which it
says are damaging the organization’s reputation.
In a statement released on Friday, TI Czech Republic said it had filed a slander complaint at the regional court in Prague and would be represented by lawyer Pavel Uhl.
The head of the Czech branch of TI David Ondračka said that on several public occasions the prime minister, who himself is suspected of EU subside fraud, had referred to Transparency International as a corrupt organization, with the clear intention of damaging the organization’s good name.
The opposition parties have criticized the drawn-out political conflict,
calling it a theatre of the absurd and arguing that the present government
is harming the country’s interests by a never–ending series of scandals
that prevents it from focussing on the country’ real problems.
The head of the Pirate Party, Ivan Bartoš, says it is not the culture minister who is at the core of the problem, but Prime Minister Andrej Babiš who is suspected of EU subsidy fraud and unwilling to stand up to the president.
Miroslav Kalousek, head of the TOP 09 deputies group in the lower house, argues that the present head of state has no respect for the Constitution and is being left to do as he will.
The Social Democratic party is divided over how to proceed in the drawn-out
dispute over a change- of-guard at the Culture Ministry, with mounting
calls for the party to walk out of the government if the coalition
agreement is not fully respected. The party leadership is to meet on Monday
to decide how to proceed in the matter.
The Social Democrats‘ decision to effect a change at the post of culture minister has been thwarted by President Miloš Zeman, who first refused to accept the incumbent minister’s resignation and then ignored a request by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš for his dismissal and replacement by the party’s chosen successor.
At a meeting on Friday between President Zeman, Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček and Culture Minister Antonín Staněk, the president said he would accept the culture minister’s resignation on July 31st and would await the result of the Social Democrat leadership meeting on Monday as regards his successor. The party has already nominated Michael Šmarda for the post, a choice that the president does not approve of.
In line with the coalition agreement between ANO and the Social Democrats each party is fully entitled to decide who will be in charge of their given portfolios.
Social Democrats chairman Jan Hamáček says that President Miloš Zeman
communicated that he is ready to accept the resignation of Culture Minister
Antonín Staněk by July 31 and will await the result of the Social
Democrat leadership meeting on Monday in regard to who Mr. Staněk's
successor will be. The statement was made after a joint meeting between the
three men at the president's Lány residence on Friday.
Mr. Hamáček reaffirmed his intention to replace the Social Democrat minister with fellow party member Michael Šmarda and said he expects the party leadership to confirm this decision. However, he admitted that the president did not give a clear statement that he will respect the decision of the Social Democrat leadership.
Antonín Staněk confirmed his party leader's statement, saying that both of them understood the president had agreed to his resignation. Mr. Hamáček said that the alternative conclusion to the Monday Social Democrat meeting would be that his party will resign from government.
Mr. Šmarda has been the party's proposed replacement for some time already since the current culture minister announced his resignation in May. Despite this, the president has until now refused to accept the resignation and, according to Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who met with him on Thursday, does not have a good opinion of Mr. Šmarda.
Archaeologists from the East Bohemian Museum have announced the discovery
of six ancient graves around the village of Sendražice near Hradec
Kralové. The graves are believed to have been made by a Germanic tribe in
the 6th century during the migration period.
One of the graves, which was not robbed in the subsequent centuries, contained tens of pieces of jewellery, including two brooches. A seax sword was also found in the grave.
Scientific tests on the skeletons are now underway as the archaeologists are hoping to identify the age of the bodies and the tribe they belonged to.
The famous wax figure museum Madame Tussauds opened its first branch in
Central and Eastern Europe in the centre of Prague on Friday. Visitors can
look forward to seeing 40 figures ranging from Jim Carrey and Bruce Willis
to David Beckham, as well as Czech historical and mythical characters.
The opening is the result of a license deal between Madame Tussauds operator Merlin Entertainments and the Czech Wax Museum Prague, which has been running a wax museum on Prague’s Celetná street since 1997.
There are currently 24 Madame Tussauds wax museums in the world.