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19-12-2017

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, delegation, invited to Prague

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has received an invitation from Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to visit along with a ministerial delegation which would hold a joint session with Czech cabinet ministers in May. In a phone call on Tuesday, Mr Netanyahu reportedly gave assurances he would try and attend. Czech and Israeli ministers held such meetings under the former Social Democrat-led government per a tradition founded in 2012. The Czech Republic is one of Israel’s closest allies in Europe.

Mr Babiš described Israel as a long-term strategic partner; the Czech government has a similar relationship with Slovakia and Poland.

The May visit would also be part of celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia.

ANO begin fresh round of talks with other parties

Prime Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš has begun talks on possible support for his minority government with representatives of the other parties in the Chamber of Deputies, following the publication of the new cabinet’s draft policy programme on Monday.

Mr Babiš and his negotiating team met with the Civic Democrats and later with Christian Democrat leader Pavel Bělobrádek. Talks are also scheduled with the Social Democrats, the Mayors and Independents, Freedom and Direct Democracy, the Communists and the Czech Pirate Party.

ANO have 78 deputies in the 200-seat lower house and will need to find either coalition partners or other parties ready to tolerate their minority government if they are to win the necessary confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies.

Civic Democrats say they will not back minority government

The Civic Democrats, the second-largest party in the lower house, have repeated they will not back the minority government led by prime minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš. Their chairman, Petr Fiala, said his party would prefer instead if the prime minister intensified efforts to form a majority government.

He also reacted to the government’s proposed policy program by saying the Civic Democrats favoured lowering taxes more. The party is also opposed to the electronic cash registers system, put in place by Babiš as former finance minister, arguing the system had driven some entrepreneurs or firms out of business.

On Tuesday, the Christian Democrats, after meeting with the prime minister, said they would not support the government as they could not accept a member of the government, in this case Mr Babiš himself, who was being sought by the police to face criminal charges. In the previous lower house Mr Babiš’ immunity was waived so that he could face charges in a subsidy fraud case.

The prime minister is meeting with the heads of all parties in the lower house, seeking backing for his government ahead of a vote in January.

He has received assurances from the president he will get a second attempt to form a government should the current one fail.

Memorial to victims of Christmas market attack unveiled in Berlin

Dignitaries and relatives of victims on Tuesday marked the first anniversary of the Christmas market attack in Berlin last year which killed 12 people, including Czech national Naďa Čižmárová, and left 56 others injured.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking at the ceremony, pledged to help those who had suffered injury or lost loved ones. She also spoke of the necessity to improve how authorities responded to similar attacks.

On December 19, 2016, a Tunisian asylum seeker went on a rampage, driving a stolen truck into pedestrians at the crowded Christmas market; he was later shot dead in Italy.

On Tuesday, Berlin's Mayor Michael Mueller unveiled a memorial at the site of the attack with the names of those who had died and an almost 17-meter gash filled with a gold-coloured metal, representing the tragedy and lives lost.

Škoda Auto named Exporter of Year after exports of CZK 310 billion

Carmaker Škoda Auto has again been named Czech Exporter of the Year after achieving exports of CZK 310 billion in 2016. That figure amounts to almost 9 percent of the country’s total exports in 2016.

Second in the annual awards, which were announced for the 23rd time in a ceremony in Prague on Monday evening, was Foxconn CZ, which finished ahead of Agrofert.

The Association of Exporters expects Czech exports to reach a record CZK 4.15 trillion this year.

Prague councillors decide to end rental contracts with company which had hoped to open Ritz-Carlton

Prague city councillors have decided to end property rental contracts with Akroterion, a company which had hoped to open a Ritz-Carlton Hotel on Prague’s Old Town Square.

The Czech News Agency reported that the company, which owns four buildings and had rented an additional four from the city for a number of years, did not meet rental conditions. The complex of buildings was to have been opened by mid-September of this year and the rent was to have been agreed until 2081. City councillors nixed the plans on the grounds that investors had not been able to get the complex up and running over 15 years.

Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová has suggested the city could have the property renovated as flats which could leased to diplomats.

Weather

Wednesday is expected to be cloudy with daytime highs of just 0 degrees Celsius.

19-12-2017