Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said the Czech Republic does not want Greece’s withdrawal from the Eurozone. Speaking to journalists in Brussels the Czech prime minister welcomed the meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and leading EU officials saying that it had effectively helped to reduce the tension that was building up particularly between Greece and Germany. Mr. Sobotka said that in the present strained circumstances even a small misunderstanding could have far-reaching consequences. German Chancellor Angela Merkel told journalists following the meeting that Greece must stick to "every paragraph" of February's bailout extension deal with the euro zone, adding that if Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wanted to come up with equivalent reforms they would be taken into consideration.
President Miloš Zeman and the First Lady Ivana are hosting a charity ball at Prague Castle, the first social event of this magnitude since the president took office two years ago. 440 people are expected to attend. The event will culminate with a lottery in which one of the prizes is a five-course dinner with the presidential couple. The proceeds will go to charities supported by the First Lady.
Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has apologized on Twitter and Facebook for his recent statement that Vietnamese owners of grocery shops "do not pay taxes, as is well known." I have been given to understand that there are Vietnamese who do pay taxes and I apologize if I offended their feelings, Mr. Babiš wrote in a statement on social networks. The apology was demanded by the Czech-Vietnamese Society, which argued that a vast majority of Vietnamese entrepreneurs pay their taxes and that the finance minister's statement was an unacceptable generalisation. The finance minister mentioned Vietnamese salesmen when defending the introduction of the planned online registration of sales during a question-and-answer session in the lower house. “Online registration of sales will apply to restaurants and retail, to brick-and-mortar shops and also to the Vietnamese who, as is well known, do not pay taxes,” Babiš said.
A strike by Lufthansa pilots has grounded over 800 flights, including flights to the Czech Republic. Vaclav Havel International Airport in Prague has confirmed the cancellation of all flights to Frankfurt and Munich on Friday, with all Prague-bound flights from these cities by Lufthansa also having been cancelled. Passengers have been advised to check-out the airports information site for developments since it now appears that the strike could be extended until Saturday.
The Russian carrier Aeroflot is discontinuing its direct flights to Karlovy Vary as of April, with the last flight from Moscow to the west Bohemian spa town scheduled for the 5th or 6th of April, the E15 news site reported on Friday. The reason for cancelling the air-link, which was established in 2006, is a slump in sales. Karlovy Vary has a strong Russian presence and is immensely popular with Russian tourists but in recent months the number of Russian tourists to the city has dropped. Overall the number of Russian tourists to the Czech Republic was down 13 percent year-on-year in 2014.
Czech Radio will invest 35 million crowns to improve security at its main headquarters in Prague and regional branches around the country. The decision was made in the wake of the January attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris. After the incident intelligence services said there were some 20 dormant terrorist cells in Europe that could strike at any time. The security measures will involve tighter security at entrances, a better camera system, more efficient control of movement on the premises and better security in studios and key work places. The improved security system should be in place within three years.
Czech and German ministers of labour failed to solve their dispute about whether new German minimum wage rules should apply to Czech truckers. Czech minister of labour Michaela Marksová met with her German counterpart Andrea Nahles in Berlin on Thursday. But Nahles refused to drop its contention that the new 8.5 euro/hour minimum wage which took effect at the start of the year should apply to Czech drivers travelling through the country or delivering goods within it. Berlin argues that Czechs and other central and south-east European drivers would unfairly undercut local drivers if the rules did not apply. Prague is now looking for the European Commission to deal with the dispute with a decision expected by the end of March, Marksová said.
Sidelined Dawn Party leader Tomio Okamura has said party funds are behind the move by rebels to go their way and create a new party. Okamura, speaking at a press conference in the lower house of parliament on Thursday, said tens of millions of crowns was the real cause of the rebellion by a majority of elected MPs against his leadership in February. Okamura said payments from party funds had been made illegally to companies linked with some of the rebels. He said he had made a complaint to the police and they were now acting on it. The group of rebel MPs have said they will go their own way and create a grassroots nationalist party. The popularity of the Dawn Party has slipped to just 1.5% according to a poll conducted in mid-March.
The regional court in Olomouc has sentenced two Vietnamese nationals to 6.5 years in prison for illegal production of marihuana. They will moreover face extradition from the country upon their release. The two men headed a gang which operated one of the biggest marihuana plantations in Moravia, hidden inside an old industrial plant. It was equipped with modern technology worth over one million crowns. During the raid the police confiscated over a thousand marihuana plants.
Hundreds of people went out into the streets before noon on Friday to watch a partial eclipse of the sun. The height of the eclipse which was around 70 percent took place at around 10.45and due to good weather conditions was visible with bare eyes around most of the country. The eclipse was broadcast live by Czech Television and other media. An eclipse of this magnitude is not expected until 2026.
Madonna who is expected to perform at Prague’s O2 Arena within her Rebel Heart Tour on November 7, will give two concerts in Prague instead of just one, due to immense interest, the agency Live Nation reported. Tickets for her second concert on November 8, will go on sale as of March 26. Tickets will cost from 1,150 to 5,760 crowns. Madonna last performed in Prague in 2009 and previously in 2006.
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