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Czech Foreign Ministry expresses regret over conflicting reports on ethnic Czechs in Ukraine

The Czech Foreign Ministry has expressed regret over conflicting reports regarding the situation of ethnic Czechs in Ukraine. In a statement on its web page the ministry said it was in constant contact with the Czech expat community in the country, was monitoring its needs and was ready to provide assistance where needed. The statement came shortly after the Office of the President reported having received a request for repatriation from 70 ethnic Czech families with an appeal to President Zeman to assist their cause. A similar request was reportedly made by forty families in March. On a recent visit to Ukraine Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek dismissed claims that so many families wanted to re-locate. He said moreover that the ethnic Czechs were in no apparent danger and could use existing channels to repatriate if they wished to do so. The president is expected to address the matter at a press briefing on Monday.

President Zeman to appoint Karla Šlechtová regional development minister

President Miloš Zeman will appoint Karla Šlechtová regional development minister next Wednesday. Šlechtová, who was in charge of the department for drawing of EU subsidies at the Regional Development Ministry, confirmed the news after an hour-long meeting with the president on Friday. Her nomination by Andrej Babiš’ ANO party earlier this week was welcomed by the party’s coalition partners –the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats -who described her as a professional.

Outgoing regional development minister reports progress in drawing of EU subsidies

The Czech Ministry for Regional Development has reduced the deficit in drawing of EU subsidies in 2014 by 3 billion crowns. As a result, the Czech Republic will lose less than 20 billion crowns in 2014, outgoing Regional Development Minister Věra Jourová told journalists on Friday. Drawing of EU finds had been a serious problem and Ms Jourová vowed to improve on the country’s performance in this field when taking office. Even given the progress made the country is expected to lose out on the equivalent of some 60 billion crowns in the 2007-2014 period. Ms. Jourová is now resigning in connection with her nomination for EU commissioner.

Czech nominee for EU commissioner gets additional questions ahead of final decision

The Czech nominee for EU commissioner for justice, consumer rights and gender issues Věra Jourová, who failed to convince two EU committees to recommend her appointment at this week’s hearing in the EP, has confirmed receiving additional questions from the respective committees. Ms. Jourová told journalists in Prague that she had been given until Sunday to provide detailed answers to several dozen questions and would have no problem meeting the set deadline. She said she expects a decision regarding her appointment next Tuesday.

Stricter rules for food imports come into force

Stricter rules for food imports to the Czech Republic come into force on Friday. Importers of animal products and selected vegetable foodstuffs are now required to notify the authorities of incoming shipments two days ahead of their arrival, and report the assumed retail prices of the products. The measures have been introduced to counter potential flooding of the Czech food market with products sold at dumping prices due to the sanctions between the EU and Russia. Czech vegetable growers said on Thursday that shipments of vegetables from Poland, originally destined for Russia, had reached shops in northeast Czech Republic.

Supreme Court orders drunk-driving incident to be judged as a crime

The Supreme Court has ordered that the case of a drunk-driver who was fined by a lower-order court for being a public threat to be re-classified as a crime. The Supreme Court heard the case after the state attorney appealed an earlier verdict. The ,man was caught heavily intoxicated speeding through the streets of Znojno and putting dozens of lives at risk. The Brno regional court classified the incident as a misdemeanor, sending it to the court in Znojno which fined the man 50 thousand crowns and issued a four year ban on driving. The case will now be reopened.

Pardubice University puts damage of hoax bomb threat at two million

Pardubice University has counted the cost of last Tuesday’s hoax bomb threat putting the damage at two million crowns. The premises were evacuated for a full day and the university was closed to both students and staff. Construction work underway on its premises was also halted. This does not include the cost of an extensive police operation and measures such as re-directing traffic away from the street where the university is located. The police are now questioning students and staff to try and trace the caller.

Czech and Slovak youngsters very vulnerable to cyber-risks

Many young people in the Czech Republic and Slovakia are extremely vulnerable to the risks of internet communication. According to the outcome of a survey conducted by Seznam.cz, Google and Vodafone more than 50 percent of respondents between the ages of 11 and 17 were invited to go to a meeting with someone they only knew over the Internet. Forty percent of Czech kids who received such an invitation and 42 percent of Slovak kids went to the meeting. None of them told their parents and only three percent of them told a friend. Eight percent of Czech and Slovak children put intimate pictures of themselves online.

Trust in Czech public institutions growing

Trust in Czech public institutions is growing, with the most trusted public institution currently being that of the Office of the President, according to the polling agency STEM. Trust in President Zeman has increased from 51 percent in February to 64 percent in September, the agency reports. President Zeman traditionally enjoys support from Social Democrat and Communist Party sympathizers but he is now winning support from centre-right TOP 09 voters as well, STEM says. The government enjoys the trust of close to 50 percent of Czechs and trust in the Chamber of Deputies is up from 46 to 52 percent. The Senate, which traditionally ranks bottom of the list, has also seen a slight improvement with trust in it now at 40 percent.

Football: Sparta score first win in Europa League group stage

Sparta Prague beat the Swiss side Young Boys Bern 3:1 in their Europa League stage group tie in Prague on Thursday night, claiming their first win in the competition. Sparta captain David Lafata gave the hosts an advantage when he scored twice in two minutes in the first half, a margin the Swiss side was unable to overcome. Sparta are next scheduled to play Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia by the end of the moth.