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Human rights minister wants foreigners with permanent residence to get right to vote in Czech Republic

The minister for human rights, Jiří Dienstbier, wants foreigners who live permanently in the Czech Republic to be allowed to vote, the news website Lidovky.cz reported. Under a plan put forward by Mr. Dienstbier the 200,000 foreigners with permanent residence would first be able to vote in local elections and then at the national level. At present only residents from EU countries can vote and then only in local elections. NGOs have welcomed the suggestion but politicians have reacted cautiously to the idea, Lidovky.cz wrote.

Foreign minister to represent Czech Republic at inauguration of Ukrainian president

The minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, will represent the Czech Republic at the inauguration of Petro Poroshenko as Ukrainian president in Kiev on Saturday, an official at his ministry said on Thursday. President Miloš Zeman will not be attending due to work commitments. The Czech head of state met Mr. Poroshenko in Warsaw this week at events marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in Poland. He had already invited the Ukrainian president-elect to Prague.

State should support return of Czechs from abroad, conference hears

An estimated 200,000 Czechs have left the country since 1989 and there could be up to 2.2 million people around the world of Czech origin. Experts at a conference of the EU’s Re-turn scheme said efforts should be made to tap the potential of Czechs living abroad and that their return to the country should be supported, the Czech News Agency said. Tomáš Grulich, the chairman of the Senate committee for Czechs abroad, said research had shown that such people wished to return; he said they were brave people who had to establish themselves abroad and that their loss was to the country’s detriment. The Czech Republic is one of seven countries involved in the Re-turn scheme.

Christian Democrats and TOP 09 form joint group within European People’s Party

The governing coalition Christian Democrats and the opposition TOP 09 have formed a joint Czech delegation as part of the European People’s Party group at the European Parliament. The group is headed by Luděk Niedermayer, a former vice governor of the Czech National Bank, who stood for TOP 09 in elections last month. It has seven members, four from TOP 09 and three from the Christian Democrats; this makes it the eighth biggest national delegation in the EPP, which is the largest party in the European Parliament.

Audit of ANO controlled ministries reveals contract shortcomings

An audit ordered by Finance Minister Andrej Babiš of the six ministries controlled by his ANO party has found a great number of shortcomings related to contracts signed in the past. At a news conference on Thursday, Deputy Finance Minister Lukáš Wagenknecht said CZK 16 billion in invoices were linked to contracts that were, for instance, over 15 years old, exceeded their original parameters, or were with companies that had no employees or were in liquidation. Mr. Wagenknecht said it would be possible to make savings of nearly CZK 230 million a year very quickly.

Average monthly salary climbs by 3.3 percent in first quarter

The average monthly salary in the Czech Republic grew by 3.3 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2014, according to official figures released on Thursday. Accounting for inflation, real growth was 3.1 percent. Average monthly pay stood at CZK 24,806 at the end of March. The figure for Prague was just under CZK 33,000.

Guitar great Jeff Beck plays on Prague Castle terrace

The great British rock guitar player Jeff Beck played a concert on the terrace of the Riding School of Prague Castle on Wednesday night. The eight-time Grammy winner, who is 70, performed a mainly instrumental set taking in a number of genres from blues to jazz fusion with a three-piece band. An estimated 1,200 fans attended the seated show at the sold-out venue, which started hosting occasional outdoor live music events last summer.

Dutch film wins most awards at Zlín festival

The Dutch film ‘Boys’ directed by Mischa Kamp picked up the most awards at the International Film Festival for Children and Youth in Zlín on Wednesday evening. The film, which recounts the awakening of homosexual desires in two teenagers training for a national relay race, It won four awards at the festival with the main actor Gijs Blom picking up the prize for best young actor. The Czech film ‘To See the Sea’ by director Jiří Mádl picked up two awards among the other winners.

České Budějovice and Hradec Králové bounce back into top tier football

Football clubs Dynamo České Budějovice and FC Hradec Králové have bounced back into the top tier of Czech football after a year in division one. The south Bohemian club ensured its promotion with a 6:0 thrashing of Tábor on Wednesday night. Hradec Králové had a more modest 1:0 victory against Pardubice. Dynamo České Budějovice’s general manager is former Czech international and club player Karel Poborský.