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.
The Chamber of Deputies has voted for the implementation a of digital
motorway toll system that should give drivers the opportunity to purchase
vignettes online or via an application by January 2021. The new system is
set to completely replace the paper coupons which are in use now.
Furthermore, hybrid cars, as well as those using electric or hydrogen
instead of regular fuel, are exempt from the charge.
Another proposal, which planned to increase the cost of digital vignettes from CZK 1,500 to CZK 2,000, did not pass.
The Czech Republic is likely to push for the post of new digital economy commissioner, Lidové Noviny reports, citing a source close to the prime minister. The reserve option is the position of commissioner for the internal market. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has not yet commented on what position the Czech Republic will try to secure. However, he tweeted on Friday that he has spoken to the future commission president Ursula von der Leyen and told her his government’s preferred portfolio, while stressing the need for adequate Visegrad Four representation.
The Ministry of Transport, which is currently reviewing one of the two
preliminary EU audits that point to a conflict of interest of Prime
Minister Andrej Babiš, has partly admitted to one of the conclusions in
the report, news site iRozhlas reports.
The specific case concerns the transfer of CZK 2 billion from the Ministry of Transport to the Ministry of the Environment in 2016. The auditors claim this is one piece of evidence of the PM’s conflict of interest because the changes were made in order to support the country’s chemical industry, which is dominated by Agrofert, a company founded by Mr. Babiš. At the time the cabinet argued that the Transport Ministry’s plans were not sufficient and a potential loss of the amount of granted subsidies could be limited.
However, in an interview with Czech Radio’s Radiožurnál, Deputy Trade Minister Tomáš Čoček said that this year’s statistics prove that the concern was unfounded and the ministry’s plans were sufficient.
EU member states should act in a uniform manner when combating the threat
of looming trade wars, TOP 09 party MEP Luděk Niedermayer told Czech
Television in an interview following his selection as vice-chair of the
European Union’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. Mr.
Niedermayer is one of three Czech MEP’s who have gained deputy positions
in newly formed EU committees. The Civic Democrats’ Jan Zahradil was
chosen as vice-chair of the Committee on International Trade, while Martina
Dlabajová from the ANO party has the same role in the Committee on
Mr. Niedermayer, who served as the director and vice-governor of the Czech National Bank before he entered politics, is known for his positive stance on closer European integration and his country’s adoption of the Euro.