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Czech president says EU should not interfere in internal affairs of member states

Czech President Miloš Zeman has criticized the EU for trying to interfere in the internal affairs of the Visegrad Group states.

Speaking at the close of a two-day summit of the presidents of Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in the High Tatras on Friday, President Zeman said this alienated the countries in question and led to new divides in Europe.

Slovak President Andrej Kiska, who hosted the summit of V4 presidents, said individual EU member states should listen to each other more and work towards mutual understanding, since each of them has its history, its problems and in many respects, also a different view of the EU.

He stressed that in the face of differences, the Visegrad Group heads of state should be more vocal in stating their allegiance to the EU and all members should work to prevent a new division of Europe into East and West.

Visegrad Group divided on EU sanctions against Russia

The presidents of Slovakia and Poland have defended the EU sanctions against Russia as justified.

Speaking at a press briefing following a Visegrad Group summit of heads of state, Slovak President Andrej Kiska said the EU could not remain indifferent to the 2014 annexation of Crimea which was a blatant violation of international law and said he welcomed the fact that EU members had acted in unity in enforcing sanctions. Polish President Andrzej Duda also said the sanctions were fully justified.

Czech President Zeman, who is one of the most vocal opponents of the sanctions and who has repeatedly called for them to be lifted, made no comment, saying sanctions had not been on the agenda of the meeting. Hungarian President Janos Ader likewise refrained from commenting on the issue.

Czechs vote in second round of Senate elections

Czechs in 25 constituencies go to the polls to cast their ballot in a second round of senatorial elections on Friday and Saturday.

The vote in two constituencies where candidates won over 50 percent of the voter support has already been decided.

The elections to a third of seats in the Senate will decide which fractions will have a majority in the upper chamber.

It is already clear that it will not be the ruling ANO party and Social Democrats, which will consequently have more trouble pushing their proposed legislation through the Senate.

Voting ends at 2pm on Saturday.

Steelmaker Arcelor Mittal confirms sales deal with Liberty House

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steel producer, will sell its steelmaking facilities in the Czech Republic, Romania, Macedonia and Italy to the British Liberty House, a spokesperson for Arcelor Mittal confirmed on Friday.

The sales deal is part of an agreement with the European Commission related to ArcelorMittal’s acquisition of Italian steelmaker Ilva.

The acquisition price has not been made public. Together the companies have over 12,000 employees.

Czech Railways fined 48 million crowns for cartel deal

The Czech Anti-Monopoly Office has fined Czech Railways and AWT Čechofracht for acting in breach of EU and Czech competition rules by illegally cooperating in the rail freight transport project Italia.

Cargo Austria AG, which was also involved, was granted immunity from fines following its leniency application.

Czech Railways has been fined 48 million crowns, while AWT Čechofracht 3 million. Both fines were originally higher, but were significantly reduced following a settlement procedure .

Snake in Kaufland store captured

A snake on the loose in a Kaufland store in Orlova, in the Karvina region, has been captured and the store has reopened to the public.

The store had been closed since Tuesday when the snake appeared on security cameras on the premises. Vets were unable to identify it from the pictures available and set thermal traps in different parts of the store.The reptile, which turned out to be a harmless grass snake, was captured on Friday.

It is the second snake-scare in the country this month. Recently a green mamba escaped in Prague, after biting its owner, but it too was eventually captured in a near-by garden.

Weather forecast

Saturday should be bright and sunny around the country with day temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.