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Czech Republic to send technical equipment to Macedonia

The Czech Republic will provide technological equipment, such as radars and night vision equipment, to Macedonia to help the country protect its border with Greece. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec made the announcement on Friday during a visit to the Vinojug refugee camp on the border between Greece and Macedonia. The Czech government has already approved 20 million crowns to the Macedonia government to help it meet the extra costs of the immigration crisis. The government has also agreed to prolong the mission of Czech police officers to help the country deal with the ongoing immigration crisis in the Balkans. The help to bolster borders with Greece has been denounced by Athens as unfriendly.

Charter 77 spokesman Miloš Hájek dies at 94

Historian and dissident Miloš Hájek died in Prague on Friday at the age of 94. Mr Hájek was a signatory of Charter 77 and eventually became its spokesman in 1988. He was also among the people to attend the now legendary breakfast at the French Embassy in Prague in December 1988 when Václav Havel and other dissidents met the then French president François Mitterrand. In 1995 he was recognised as one of the Righteous Among the Nations for his efforts to save people from the Holocaust. He was also awarded a Medal of Merit in 2001 at Prague Castle.

Prague City Hall votes for reconstruction of Libeň bridge

Prague City Hall has voted in favour of renovating the Libeň bridge, which has been described as the sole Cubist-style bridge in the world, to its original condition. Prague deputies originally suggested other options, such as massive restoration including enlargement of the bridge or even its demolition, but the proposals met with massive protests from local people and conservationists. Steps are now being taken for the bridge, designed by architect Pavel Janák in the late 1920s, to be declared a cultural monument.

Prague ninth richest region in EU

Newly released Eurostat figures for 2014 suggest that Prague is the ninth richest region of all EU member states. According to the figures, which measure per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity, Prague’s GDP stands at 173 percent of the EU average. London ranks number one in Europe at more than three times the EU average, followed by Luxembourg and Brussels. The entire Czech Republic is ranked at around 75 percent of the EU average.

President Zeman proposes new draft treaty on protection of Czech children in Norway

Czech President Miloš Zeman has agreed with Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek on the text of a new draft treaty according to which children with Czech citizenship living in Norway should be handed to their parents, the president said on Friday during his visit to the Liberec region. The Foreign Ministry's lawyers said the old version was in conflict with international treaties and principles of international law. Mr Zeman presented the first version of the draft treaty in January in reaction to the cases of Norwegian authorities taking children with Czech citizenship away from their parents.

Miners’ unions widen strike alert over Paskov mine

Miners’ unions on Friday decided to widen their strike alert from the Paskov mine, which is slated for closure before the end of the year, to the whole of the OKD mining company, the head of the association of mining unions Jaromír Pytlík told the Czech Television on Friday. The unions are threating to strike over the lack of a social programme to help laid-off miners. They also complain about the lack of information from the management. Paskov belongs to the OKD mining company which is in severe financial difficulties and has announced the planned closure of three mines.

Police releases photos of men suspected of defacing Charles Bridge

Police in Prague have released photos of two men suspected of spray painting letters on Charles Bridge, a national monument and one of the capital’s major tourist attractions. According to the police, the suspects are French speakers and most likely tourists. The police have come up with the pictures after checking the CCTV cameras for evidence. If convicted, the suspects face up to three years in jail for vandalizing a national monument.

Česká Spořitelna sees net profit drop in 2015

One of the Czech Republic’s biggest banks, Česká Spořitelna announced a drop in net profits for 2015 of 5.2 percent to 14.3 billion crowns. High provisions for bad loans and low interest rates eroded profits, the bank said. Most of the other big banks on the Czech market have already announced much better results. Česká Spořitelna is regarded as the biggest Czech bank according to the volume of client deposits.

Unions call for 10 percent pay rise for employees in culture

Czech Republic’s unions have called for a pay rise for state employees in the cultural sector of at least 10 percent, leader of the country’s confederation of trade unions, Josef Středula, said on Friday after a meeting with the culture minister Daniel Herrman. There are around 6,500 employees in the cultural sector and their salaries are about 2.5 percent below the national average, which is a little over 26,000 crowns. The ministry has received an extra 100 million crowns for this year’s budget which is intended to increase wages of people working in the non-profit sector.

Czech artist Zdeněk Smetana dies

Czech artist and animator Zdeněk Smetana, author of popular television bedtime stories, died on Thursday at the age of 90. Mr Smetana started working for the famous Bratři v triku studio founded by artist Jiří Trnka in 1946. In the 1970s and 1980s he focused on creating animated series for Czechoslovak Television’s evening childrens’ programme Večerníček. He is best known for his series Křemílek a Vochomůrka and Rákosníček, which have become classics of their kind. Mr Smetana made over 400 animated cartoons, winning a number of awards in Cannes, Venice and other festivals.

Robin voted Czech Bird of the Year

The European Robin has been named Bird of the Year by the Czech Ornithological Society. The sparrow-sized bird with a red breast is one of the 15 most common birds of the Czech Republic. According to the head of the Ornithological society, Zdeněk Vermouzek, the choice was aimed at reminding the public that even the most widespread species are threatened, for instance by colliding with glass surfaces on bus stops and other buildings or from the predatory nature of cats.

Sparta Prague to face Lazio in last 16 of Europa League

In football, Sparta Prague has been drawn against Italy’s Lazio in the Last 16 of the Europa League. On Thursday night, Sparta beat Russian opponents Krasnodar 3:0 in the away tie to go through to the quarter-finals of the Europa league for the first time with a 4:0 score on aggregate.