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President Miloš Zeman begins France visit

Czech President Miloš Zeman on Monday began a three-day official visit to France, the first trip to the country by a Czech head of state in ten years. Mr Zeman is scheduled to meet French President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls for talks on the situation in Ukraine and on economic cooperation between France and the Czech Republic. Mr Zeman is accompanied by Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš and a large business delegation seeking to boost trade ties between the two countries and increase French investments in the Czech Republic.

UK cancer patient Ashya King admitted to Prague hospital

Five-year-old English cancer patient Ashya King has been admitted to Prague’s Motol hospital. Doctors at the facility said tests would determine whether the boy, who suffers from a brain tumour, will be treated at the Proton Therapy Center in the capital. The boy’s parents were briefly detained in Spain after they removed their son from a hospital in UK hoping he could be treated in Prague. However, a British court only granted them permission to transport the boy to Prague on Friday.

Industry accelerated growth in July to 8.6 percent

The Czech industrial sector grew by an annual 8.6 percent in July, up from 8.3 percent recorded in the previous month, according to figures released on Monday by the Czech Statistics Office. The value of new orders annually increased by 17.6 percent in that month. The growth was fuelled by the country’s automotive industry which grew in July by 46.6 percent compared to the same month last year.

Unemployment rate remained at 7.4 percent in August

The national unemployment rate remained at 7.4 percent in August, the same figured registered in the third consecutive month, according to figures released by the country’s Labour Office on Monday. More than 535,000 jobs seekers were registered in that month. The jobless rate stagnated despite the fact that there were nearly 55,000 vacancies in August, some 14,000 more than in the same month previous year. The Labour Office expects that unemployment levels will stagnate or rise slightly in the coming months due to the arrivals of graduates to the labour market and the end of seasonal labour.

Brno court hears closing arguments in Hitler speeches publication case

A court in Brno on Monday heard the closing statements in the case of the 2012 publication of speeches by Adolf Hitler. Two publishers and an editor stand accused of propagating Nazism, and could face up to ten years in jail if found guilty. The publishers of the book said they wanted to make historic documents accessible to Czech readers while making a profit, arguing that Hitler was a “stronger brand that Coca-Cola”. However, prosecution experts said the Nazi dictator’s thoughts were not placed in proper context, and could therefore influence uninformed readers. The verdict in the case is expected on Wednesday.

Transportation minister to unveil rail competition time frame

The Czech transportation minister, Antonín Prachař, will this week present to the government the time frame for opening of Czech rail passenger services to competition, the news agency ČTK reported on Monday quoting sources from the Transportation Ministry. The first long-distance route, between Plzeň and Most in western Bohemia, should open to bidding from rail companies in the fall. However, the ministry plans that some routes should only be offered to the state-owned firm Czech Railways in order to maintain existing levels of service. These include international express routes from Prague to Slovakia, Germany, Poland and Austria.

Telecom regulator pushes for shorter number transfer time

The Czech Republic’s telecommunications regulator, ČSÚ, will push mobile phone operators to cut the phone numbers transfer time, the head of the regulator, Jaromír Novák, said on Monday. Operators are legally bound to transfer the number within four days but the process often takes between 30 and 42 days as operators apply notice periods. Planned legislation should however prohibit operators from applying notice periods under multi-million penalties.

Analysis finds sharp rise in number of women-owned firms

The number of Czech limited companies owned by women has risen sharply over the past several years, according to an analysis by the consultancy firm Bisnode. While in 2012, 15 percent of such firms registered in the Czech Republic had women owners, this year there are 24 percent of them, according to Bisnode analyst Petra Štepánová. However, a majority of Czech limited companies – 71 percent of them – are owned by men.

Police break up drug-trafficking ring

The Czech police have arrested 11 people suspected of having trafficked 1.5 kg of methamphetamine to Austria over the last three months, the head of the national anti-drug police unit, Jakub Frydrych told reporters on Monday. The group operated from the north Bohemian town of Teplice where Vietnamese nationals produced the drug; Czech smugglers transported the illicit substance to Austria where they sold it to local drug dealers. Five members of the group are Czech citizens, Mr Frydrych said.

Heavy storms to hit Czech Republic

Heavy storms are to hit the Czech Republic on Monday afternoon and evening, meteorologists have warned. Up to 30 millimetres of precipitation is expected in parts of Bohemia and the Bohemian-Moravian Highlands, with heavy rain later moving on to eastern Czech Republic. Meteorologists also warn that torrential rain could flood low-lying sites as well as basements and cellars in affected areas.