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Zeman and Babiš will meet to consider appointing foreign minister

President Miloš Zeman will meet Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (Ano) for a working lunch on Monday at which they are expected to discuss filling the post of foreign minister, now temporarily held by Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček, who is also interior minister.

According to the daily Právo, Social Democrat Jakub Landovský, currently a deputy defence minister, could be named to the position. President Zeman last month refused to name the Ano-Social Democrat coalition government’s choice as foreign minister, Social Democrat MEP Miroslav Poche.

Hamáček had said the Social Democrats would not push for court action over the president’s refusal to appoint their nominee, preferring to resolve the matter through dialogue. His party is due to meet on Friday to discuss the situation.

1968 Red Square protest against Czechoslovak invasion marked in Prague

A ‘happening’ dedicated to eight dissidents who on August 25, 1968, held a public protest on Moscow’s Red Square against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia was held in Prague on Saturday.

Eight modern activists recreated the events of half a century ago, including by bringing copies of the banners they held, such as one proclaiming “For your freedom and ours”, unfurled by Pavel Litvinov, whose grandfather Maxim Litvinov had been Stalin’s foreign minister in the 1930s.

Saturday’s action on Wenceslas Square was attended by Tatyana Baeva, along with Litvinov and Viktor Fajnberg, the last living participant in that 1968 demonstration.

Main organiser Zuzana Vaňková read out the names of all eight demonstrators and recalled the repression they suffered as a result. All received lengthy jail sentences or were locked up in psychiatric institutions.

Communist-era dissidents’ trail opens at Czech-Polish border

The Czech town of Malá Úpa is opening a new tourist trail, called Freedom at the Border, to remind people of a landmark undercover meeting of Czech and Polish dissidents forty years ago at the summit of mount Sněžka.

The first meeting in 1978 was attended by Václav Havel, Marta Kubišová and Tomáš Petřivý, who initiated the meeting. From the Polish side, there was Adam Michnik, Jacek Kuroń, Jan Majewski, Jan Lityński and Antoni Macierewicz.

To mark the opening of the educational trail, a concert, theatre performance and debates will be held on Saturday near the Czech-Polish border. The meeting aims to serve as a reminder that freedom is not to be taken for granted.

‘Night of Castles’ features 100 historic sites

Dozens of castles, palaces and other monuments in the Czech Republic open their doors to visitors on Saturday as part of the annual "Night of castles and palaces" event.

Organised for the ninth time by the National Monument Protection Office, the event includes guided tours, jousting tournaments, concerts, theatre performances and other attractions at about 100 sites nationwide.

This year, the main programme takes place at the castle Kynžvart in western Bohemia.

Poll: Ano set to dominate municipal elections, lose in Prague

The Ano movement of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is set to dominate municipal elections in October nationwide while the opposition Civic Democrats (ODS), the Pirates and far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy Party (SPD) also have a great chance of success, according to polling agency SANEP.

Of six major cities surveyed, only in Prague would Ano not take first place, where the movement would end third behind the Pirates and ODS, said SANEP, without providing detailed numbers.

Ano would win in Brno, Pilsen, Liberec, Ostrava and Ústí nad Labem while the Pirates will likely gain ground in Pilsen and Brno, it said.

Health Ministry seeks increased medical school funding to boost enrolment

The health ministry is proposing to set aside an extra 6.8 billion crowns over through 2020 for allowing four medical schools (Charles University, Masaryk, Palacký, Ostrava) to accept more students. Minister of Health Adam Vojtěch said action must be taken now to address a looming, serious shortage of doctors within the next 10 years.

Of the 40,000 doctors now practising some 13,000 will be over the age of 60 as of 2020, or five years short of retirement age. Each year, about 1,400 new medical students are accepted while last year only 1,170 students graduated. Furthermore, an estimated 10-25 per cent of graduates leave the country to practise medicine.

Weather outlook

Sunday skies should be partly cloudy, with occasional rain likely in the northeastern of the country. Daily temperatures should reach highs of 16 to 20 degrees Celsius.