The presidents of the Visegrad group countries said Russia’s annexation of Crimea last March was an aggression. The presidents of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in the Slovak capital on Sunday, marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism. The heads of state also agreed that the EU’s sanctions against Russia were necessary, according to Slovak President Andrej Kiska. The statements contradict Czech President Miloš Zeman’s earlier positions; at a conference organized by a close ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin in September, Mr Zeman said the sanctions were ineffective and called for them to be lifted.
The Czech and Slovak prime ministers, Bohuslav Sobotka and Robert Fico, have criticized the influence of business on politics. Mr Sobotka, who appeared along with his Slovak counterpart in a debate on Czech TV on Sunday, said entrepreneurs had discredited political parties. Both cabinet leaders suggested transparent financing of political parties could help curb business people’s influence on politics. The Czech prime minister also expressed disagreement with President Miloš Zeman who has questioned the brutality the communist police used against protesters on November 17, 1989. Mr Sobotka said the operation was “extraordinarily brutal” and should not be trivialized.
Developments following the fall of communism in then Czechoslovakia have failed the expectations of most Czechs and Slovaks, according to a survey for Czech and Slovak public broadcasters. In the Czech Republic, 54 percent of those polled said they were disappointed while in Slovakia, their share reached 70 percent. Difficult social conditions were given as the most frequent complaint in both countries. However, the survey’s authors said the results did not suggest people would be unhappy about the change but rather that their expectations had been greater.
Czech hospitals will not accept Syrian patients for treatment as part of the international MEDEVAC programme, the news website lidovky.cz reports. In areas with the presence of the Islamic State People hostile to the Czech Republic could pose as patients, a spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry told the website. In the past, 14 child and adult patients from Syria received treatment in the Czech Republic. The change in attitude has been criticized by the Czech Catholic Church; treating small groups of people suffering in a humanitarian crisis in the Middle East is in line with our society’s fundamental values, the Czech Bishops’ Conference said.
The Czech national football team is hosting Iceland in Plzeň on Sunday night, in their third qualification match for Euro 2016. The Czechs scored a full nine points from the first three ties; however, Iceland, also with nine points, top the qualification group on score difference. The Czech hope that a win would considerably increase their chance of advancing to the final tournament in France.
Czech forward Jakub Voráček scored two assists for the Philadelphia Flyers against Montreal on Saturday night, and moved to the top of the NHL’s scoring charts with 26 points. The second most productive Czech, Jiří Hudler of the Calgary Flames, has scored 14 points and is ranked 50th in the statistics .