Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, speaking to Czech diplomats at an annual meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Prague, has expressed the view that, in the long-term, the European Union will not be able to do without a unified military force. The head of the government was referring to the security situation in Europe following recent terrorist attacks in Germany and in France. In Mr Sobotka’s view, Europe will need to better prepare for all manner of threats – he added that the discussion over further directions for Europe to take was already underway. According to the prime minister, the Czech Republic needs to take an active role; he reminded attendees that membership in the EU and NATO was crucial.
Czech arms manufacturers and producers of military equipment such as gas masks or filters, last year exported goods worth a record 15 billion crowns, news website iDnes reports. The highest number of exports, 28 percent, was to EU countries and was worth 4.3 billion. Czech arms exports to Bulgaria alone were worth one billion crowns; exports to Slovakia saw similar numbers as did countries outside of the European Union such as the United States and Iraq.
The country’s Supreme Audit Office has found serious shortcomings in the Culture Ministry’s handling of funds for the renovation and preservation of cultural heritage sites. The bureau reports that funds in a number of programmes were released in a non-transparent manner and that projects were funded without proper rules, regulations, or oversight. Some programmes, long behind schedule, were allegedly prolonged without proper assessments made. Projects which failed to meet deadlines were completed, on average, three years late.
An arbitration court has ruled that Prague does not have to pay ČKD Praha DIZ roughly 1.7 billion crowns the firm had sought for work on the city’s Blanka Tunnel complex. The company, which provided technology for the infrastructure, sought the amount over an alleged rise in costs when completion of the tunnel was delayed. The company will now have to pay almost 17 million crowns to cover the City of Prague’s legal fees. The court’s decision is binding and cannot be appealed.
The state prosecutor said he was seeking 2-3 year suspended sentences for former officials at Prague City Hall, including the former mayors Bohuslav Svoboda and Tomáš Hudeček and a former city councillor for IT, in connection with the Prague Opencard. It has been alleged that the city signed disadvantageous contracts with the original Opencard provider Haguess. The Opencard was a controversial multi-use transit card which went far over budget and cost the city 1.74 billion crowns. It is still in use but being phased out by a replacement.
Police are continuing their investigation into a publicity stunt on Sunday which caused a stir among some tourists on Prague’s Old Town Square. A well-known activist who headed the short-lived Bloc Against Islam and associates staged a mock Islamic State invasion at the site. Police stopped the event when they brandished and ‘fired’ imitation firearms. Police originally investigated the incident for the crime of spreading false alarm but are looking at the matter also as one of disturbing the peace. The activist, Martin Konvička, is looking to run in upcoming Senate elections.
The past week was the most tragic of the year so far on Czech roads with fatalities rising to 22. That is four higher than the last week in July, when 18 people lost their lives in road accidents. The news was confirmed by the government’s road safety department, BESIP. Overall, the number of road fatalities over the first three weeks of August is three lower than last year, at 46.
In a ceremony held on Monday at the site of the National Theatre in Prague, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka symbolically handed a key to the neighbouring Themos building to the theatre’s director Jan Burian. The theatre lost the building in the 1990s in a mistake in restitution proceedings; in May it gained it back in an auction for 290 million crowns. The Czech News Agency reports that for the time being it will be used by State Opera and later will be used for rehearsals.
The final week of August is set to be the warmest seven-day period of the two summer holiday months in the Czech Republic, meteorologists say. While temperatures should range from 19 to 28 degrees Celsius until Wednesday, from Thursday they will climb to above 30 degrees and remain there until the start of next week with daytime highs of up to 33 degrees expected at the weekend.
The Czech tennis player Karolína Plíšková has won the Cincinnati Masters for her first title in a premier tournament and the sixth title of her career. Plíšková, who is 24, overcame Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-3 6-1 in 62 minutes, preventing her opponent from becoming number one in the world rankings. The Czech, who had never previously beaten the German in seven meetings, had got off to the perfect start, breaking her opponent in the opening game.