South Korean president Park Geun-hye began a four day visit to the Czech Republic on Wednesday. She began with a visit to Czech president Miloš Zeman. President Park said that South Korean could offer the Czech Republic help in building new nuclear reactors or with the supply of new helicopters. Export opportunities for the Czech Republic were highlighted in nanotechnology. Park Geun-hye will later hold talks with prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka and leaders of the Visegrad 4 regional grouping. Korean companies are expected to sign agreements with their Czech counterparts worth several billions of crowns.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved moves by the European Commission to increase the representation of women on the supervisory boards of big companies. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on his Twitter account that the vote was not unanimous. The European Commission proposal is being piloted by Czech Commissioner Věra Jourová and was presented by her in Prague last month. The measure calls for at least 40 percent of women to be placed on management boards. That would be a major change for most Czech companies.
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with Czech public broadcaster Czech Television that it is realistic that a peace agreement could be signed in Prague. He pointed out in the interview that the Czech Republic had kept a ‘balanced’position in the ongoing conflict and had not given in to pressure from the US and other countries. That had increased respect for the Czech Republic and its credibility. Assad added that, unlike other countries, it had kept open its embassy in Damascus. President Miloš Zeman first signaled that there was a possibility that a peace agreement could be signed in the Czech capital.
The Czech Upper house, the Senate, passed on Wednesday an amendment which should make it much easier to restitute objects of historical and cultural value back to the Czech Republic. The change in the law falls into line with European rules and paves the way for a much wider range of items to be returned. Previously these were restricted to objects which had specifically earmarked as national treasures. The time limits for goods to be returned are also broadened to make the process easier.
The Czech government has approved a move to join an upcoming court case in which the Austrian government and Greenpeace’s German branch challenge European Commission approval of British support for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in the European Court of Justice. Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek said in a press conference after the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the country is seeking to be a secondary participant in the two court actions. The minister said Prague believed that individual government’s rights to choose their own national energy policies and energy mix should be upheld and nuclear power should be one option.
The Czech government Wednesday refused to give its backing to a move by seven European states led by Slovakia to oppose new gas pipeline links from Russia under the Baltic. The proposal to join the joint approach to the European Commission was tabled before the government by Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek. But the government did not agree to support the move against Nord Stream II. Slovakia is one of the most vocal opponents of the move to expand the existing under sea pipeline that circumvents gas transit routes through Ukraine. Slovakia stands to lose substantial fees if Russian gas exports through Ukraine and Slovakia and onto Western Europe are eventually halted. The letter to Brussels was backed by all the Baltic States, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
A group of 21 members of the Czech upper house, the Senate, said Wednesday that they would challenge moves to clamp down on Value Added Tax fraud in the Constitutional Court. They say that the moves which should take effect next year are in conflict with data protection and collection rules. The Ministry of Finance says it is convinced the changes are in order.
The publishing house controlled by Czech billionaires Daniel Křetínský and Patrik Tkáč has confirmed that it is seeking to buy up part of the Mladá Fronta newspaper and magazine group. Preliminary clearance from the Czech competition office has been sought for the deal. Mladá Fronta, which has no connection to the daily newspaper, is one of the biggest publishing houses in the country with the business daily E15 part of its stable. Křetínský and Tkáč already own the company publishing the best selling tabloid Blesk and the daily Sport.
Hamburg’s decision to pull out of a competition to host the Olympics has complicated the future of a dilapidated Czech-owned lot at a port in the city, Czech Radio reported. There had been plans to exchange it for another site in the German city before residents voted against hosting the Olympics in a referendum. The Czech minister of transport, Dan Ťok, said Prague would now have to renegotiate the matter with the Hamburg authorities. Czechoslovakia took a 99-year lease on the port in 1929 and the facility was used until 2001, when the Czech operator went bankrupt.
The Czech Army have dropped plans to sell a dog “decorated” after a mission in Afghanistan, the TV station Prima reported. There was an outcry on social media when the seven-year-old German shepherd, named Athos, was listed as being for sale for CZK 500. The dog, which was trained to detect explosives, was injured in 2012 and received a plaque, a bone and a leather collar from the minister of defence. It will remain at an army veterinarian centre, Prima said.
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