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ANO signals it wants changes to coalition agreement

The ANO party has decided not for the moment to rescind the government coalition agreement due to a row over proposed police reform. Party leaders met Wednesday evening after Social Democrat Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec signed the proposed reforms, which include the merger of key anti-corruption and anti-mafia police units. ANO said, however, it would seek revisions of the existing coalition agreement. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said before flying out to China that his party is willing to discuss changes.

Czech PM starts working visit to China

Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka flew out to China for a working visit on Wednesday evening. The main themes of the visit will be to strengthen cooperation over health, civil aviation, and the financial sector. Sobotka returns on June 20. Sobotka’s first day in China will include a visit to a football club. The Czech Republic and China have signed agreements to boost sports, particularly in football and winter sports, such as ice hockey. Sobotka is accompanied by the ministers of health, industry and trade, transport, and social affairs.

Czech psychiatric care to undergo reform

Psychiatry care in the Czech Republic is set to undergo reform as a result of a memorandum signed by Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček, insurance company representatives and mental health organisations on Thursday. Psychiatry in the Czech Republic has long been underfinanced and undervalued. According to the director of Prague’s Psychiatric Institution Bohnice, Martin Hollý, it only receives around three to four percent of the health ministry’s overall budget, or around 10 billion crowns. However, the amount is set to increase in the coming years. There are currently some half a million people with psychiatric illness living in the Czech Republic and about one third of them have undergone treatment at some point of their lives.

Czech scientists discover agents effective against Zika virus

Czech scientists from the Biological centre of the Academy of Sciences in Prague and the Veterinary Research Institute in Brno have discovered a group of agents with a strong effect against the mosquito-born Zika virus. It is the first described substance which is effective against the tick-born encephalitis and the Zika virus. The team of scientists cooperates with the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, which is working on transforming the newly discovered molecules into a medicine. The Zika virus, which has spread from Brazil to more than 20 countries, is linked to severe brain damage or death in infants born to mothers who contracted the disease during pregnancy.

Italian writer and translator Caludio Magris receives Franz Kafka prize

Italian writer, translator, German studies scholar and essayist Claudio Magris will receive this year’s Franz Kafka prize. Mr Magris, has become the sixteenth recipient of the international literary award which is given to authors whose work appeals to readers across different cultures. Among the previous winners were Austria’s Elfriede Jelinek and British playwright Harold Pinter, both of whom went on to win the Nobel Prize in literature the same year. Claudio Magris, who was born in Trieste in 1939, has received a number of Italian and European literary awards and many of his books have also appeared in Czech. He will collect the prize at the award giving ceremony in October.

IKEM and Prague main train station evacuated after anonymous bomb threat

Prague’s Centre for Clinical and Experimental Medicine and the city’s main train station were evacuated on Thursday afternoon after receiving an anonymous bomb threat. Up to one thousand people had to leave the buildings and the operation was partly restricted. Explosive experts with sniffer dogs are currently conducting a search of the premises.

Chinese ICBC bank to open subsidiary in Czech Republic

One of the world’s leading banks, China’s ICBC, will open a subsidiary in the Czech Republic. The Czech Secretary of State for European Affairs, Tomáš Prouza, signed a memorandum confirming the bank’s entry onto the Czech market on Thursday, during Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s visit to China. The bank has also launched a Czech section of its online platform e-Mall. ICBC is China’s second biggest bank after Bank of China. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after the signing of the memorandum that the Czech Republic fulfils its target to become the financial centre for Chinese institutions for Central and Eastern Europe.

Jiří Suchý and Ivan Klíma among recipients of Prague honorary citizenships

Prague City Hall will award six honorary citizenships this year, the city council decided on Thursday. The recipients include sculptor Olbram Zoubek, writer Ivan Klíma, Jiří Suchý, radio and television announcer and Charter 77 signatory Kamila Moučková, founder of the Prague International Marathon Carlo Capalbo and Emil Zátopek’s wife and Olympic medal winner Dana. The official ceremony will take place at the Old Town Hall on June 27. Honorary citizenship of Prague has been awarded since 1920. Two people, the communist-era presidents Klement Gottwald and Gustav Husák, have been removed from the list in the past.

Car production increased by 13 percent in first five months of 2016

Car production in the Czech Republic has increased by 13 percent to 593,743 vehicles over the past five months, according to data from the Automotive Industry Association released on Thursday. At the same time, exports of Czech cars and light commercial vans increased over the same period by 7.5 percent to 686,694 vehicles. That suggests some previous production had been held in reserve. Domestic sales grew by nearly eight percent to 3,229 cars. Last year, Czech car makers produced a record 1.3 million vehicles and the association expects further growth this year.

Storms, winds and torrential rain to hit Czech Republic on Thursday and Friday

Meteorologists have warned of heavy storms due to hit most parts of the Czech Republic on Thursday afternoon. The storms may be accompanied by hail and torrential rain, which could swell smaller rivers and flood roads and cellars. As of Friday morning, strong winds that can reach up to 110 kilometres an hour are expected mainly in the northeast parts of the country.