Ivo Schwarz, a former ambassador to Israel and the longest-serving head of
the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Czech Republic (ÚZSI), has died at
the age of 54.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced his death on Twitter. It said he died of leukaemia.
Ivo Schwarz was director of the Office of Foreign Relations and Information from 2007-2014, having assumed several leading posts at the intelligence service since 1999. He was named Ambassador to Israel in October 2014.
The Prague City Hall coalition will meet on Friday to discuss a
controversial proposal to collect anonymous data from electricity meters to
identify vacant housing units.
Mayor Zdeněk Hřib said the Pirate Party is considering levying additional taxes on unoccupied apartments. In part, the aim is to give speculative property buyers an incentive to rent out flats rather than leaving them empty until sold.
Coalition partner TOP 09 in particular is against what it sees as any interference with the rights of owners to use their private property as they see fit.
However, given the housing shortage in Prague, Deputy Mayor Petr Hlaváček of TOP 09 said that if the city found that a significant percentage of apartments were vacant, the coalition would have to decide what to do about it.
Imposing such a tax on vacant units would require parliamentary approval.
Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) told President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan
during a business trip this week that human rights are of greater
importance to Czechs than getting a panda, he wrote on Twitter.
Communist China often gifts pandas to countries that embrace its “one China” policy, which does not recognise Taiwan.
Mayor Hřib, who was attending the Smart City Summit & Expo conference as part of his business trip to Taiwan, was alluding to a diplomatic incident last week.
Minister of Industry and Trade Marta Nováková (on the ANO ticket) bowed to the Chinese ambassador in asking Taiwan’s representative to leave a meeting at her ministry.
Mr Hřib said he and Taiwan’s president had discussed the possibility of direct flights between Prague and Taipei, which he said could facilitate ties. Currently, Taiwan has an Economic and Cultural Office in the Czech Republic but no embassy.
Mortgage lending fell by 26.9 percent in the first two months of 2019 to
24.5 billion crowns, according to Czech National Bank figures.
Market analysts attribute the drop to front-loading in the second half of 2018 in anticipation of stricter lending guidelines and higher interest rates.
The average mortgage rate in the Czech Republic has been steadily climbing since reaching a record low of 1.8 percent in December 2016. It stood at 3.0 percent in January.
Meanwhile, consumer bank and credit-union borrowing rose by 7.1 percent in February, to 1.66 trillion crowns.
An accident involving a trolley bus and a tram in central Brno on Monday
afternoon left at least 38 people injured, 12 of them seriously.
Apart from the tram driver, those suffering injuries in the collision on Křenová Street are all thought to have been bus passengers. Two children are among the injured.
Minister of Transport Dan Ťok said reports of an imminent cabinet shuffle
that would see him ousted from the position are unfounded. He quipped that
the report was “an April Fool’s Day joke”.
Citing sources close to Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, the news site idnes.cz reported that both Ťok and Industry and Trade Minister Marta Nováková are on their way out, with the reshuffle likely to happen by mid-May at the latest.
Ťok is being blamed for the state of the country’s permanently congested D1 highway. Nováková is under fire over an incident when a representative of Taiwan was forced to leave a diplomatic meeting at the request of China’s ambassador.
Prague City Hall councillors have agreed to commission artistic designs for
each station of the planned metro D line, running from Pankrác to
The designs will be chose in conjunction with the National Gallery Prague and architect David Vávra.
As regards the Pankrác station, the first to be built, sculptors Marian Karel and Vladimír Soukénka have already been approached.
Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) is
in Lithuania on Monday for a meeting with his counterparts in the Visegrad,
Nordic and Baltic regions.
Topping the agenda of the so-called V4 + NB8 meeting is measures to ensure cybersecurity and counter hybrid threats, within the wider scope of relations with Russia and China.
Also under discussion are presidential elections in Ukraine and migration issues affecting Europe as a whole.
The Moravian-Silesian Police have taken 21 people into custody following a
coordinated drug bust in the region that uncovered 25 marijuana growing
rooms, mostly in Ostrava.
A police spokesman said a married couple led the growing and distribution network, which apart from marijuana, also sold cocaine, ecstasy and other illegal drugs.