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Hřib: Council may cancel Prague-Beijing sister city agreement over ‘One China’ clause

The Prague municipal government may cancel a sister-city agreement with Beijing, Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) told the Czech News Agency (ČTK) on Friday.

The move stems from China’s refusal to negotiate deleting a clause saying the Czech capital recognises the “One China” policy, negating sovereignty claims by Taiwan and Tibet, Hřib reportedly said. Prague city councillors are due to vote on cancelling the agreement on Monday.

The Prague-Beijing agreement was approved in February 2016 by under then mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO). Since taking office, Mr Hřib has worked to delete section regarding the “One China” policy.

In response, Beijing has indefinitely postponed or outright cancelled scheduled tours by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and other Czech groups.

Czech gov’t to declare day of mourning for singer Karel Gott

The government plans to declare a day of mourning on Saturday, October 12, when the funeral of singer Karel Gott takes place. He is to be buried in Prague with state honours following a memorial service at St. Vitus Cathedral.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) told journalists on Friday morning the details were still being worked out, adding that it is “logistically quite demanding because the public interest is huge.”

Karel Gott passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80 after suffering from acute leukaemia. He sold tens of millions of albums in a career spanning almost six decades.

Public can pay last respects to Karel Gott at Žofín Palace next Friday

The public will be able to pay their respects to the late Czech singer Karel Gott, who has died at the age of 80, next Friday, October 11, at Prague’s Žofín Palace.

A celebratory mass for invited guests will take place the following day at Saint Vitus’ cathedral at Prague Castle, conducted by Cardinal Dominik Duka.

Mr Gott’s widow, Ivana, announced on Thursday that after careful consideration she decided for a funeral with state honors.

Karel Gott passed away on Tuesday at the age of 80 after suffering from acute leukaemia. He sold tens of millions of albums in a career spanning almost six decades.

Vojtěch Filip: Communist MPs ready to back 2020 state budget

Communist Party leader Vojtěch Filip announced on Friday that his deputies will likely support the 2020 state budget proposal presented by the finance minister.

The government of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) in mid-September proposed a 2020 budget with a deficit of 40 billion crowns, the same as planned for this year.

Filip’s announcement came following a meeting with Mr Babiš and Minister of Finance Alena Schillerová (ANO). The minority coalition government with the Social Democrat relies on Communist tolerance.

The Communists have used their role as kingmaker several times to win major concessions. ANO was obliged to support their proposal to tax compensation awarded churches in lieu of property seized by the former regime that could not be returned in restitution.

Prague placed 19th in global ranking of smart cities

Prague has been placed 19th in the world ranking of smart cities, put together by the IMD business school in Switzerland and the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

The first edition of the IMD Smart City Index assesses a city’s efforts and success in embracing smart technologies to improve the lives of its citizens. Singapore is in the top spot out of the 102 cities included in the survey, followed by Zurich and Oslo.

Supreme Court rejects Grandi Stazioni appeal over loss of Prague rail station lease

The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal by the Italian developer Grandi Stazioni over the transfer of the iconic Fanta building at Prague's main railway station to the state Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC).

In October 2016, Grandi Stazioni lost its 30-year lease of the station after repeatedly failing to meet reconstruction deadlines. The SŽDC rejected the developer’s request for another two-year extension and asked Grandi Stazioni to vacate the premises.

The Prague station underwent insensitive reconstruction in the 1970s and 1990s that left a lot of work for modern conservationists. The original neo-renaissance building opened in December 1871 and was reconstructed in the Art Nouveau style in the early 1900s.

Czech Post to get CZK 3.3 bn payment, subject to EC approval

The struggling Czech Post office will get a 3.3 billion crown payment from the state next year for so-called universal services from previous years, subject to approval of the European Commission.

Last year, Czech Post recorded a 1 billion crown loss. It may have to eliminate 7,000 positions as part of a restructuring in order to return to profitability by 2021.

The European Commission has twice approved billions in Czech state support, finding it compatible with EU internal market regulations and as such allowed.

Czech Post had a monopoly on the delivery of letters and other direct mail weighing less than 50 grams until the start of 2013. Now these services may also be offered by competitors, which focus mainly on corporate clients.

ČEZ to sell Počerady plant, shut down coal resources by 2040

Czech utility ČEZ plans to sell its Počerady coal-fired power plant to Se.ven Energy financier Pavel Tykač when an option comes available at the end this year and shut down most of its coal resources by 2040.

Vršanská uhelná, part of the Se.ven Energy holding, should start operating the plant as of 2024. The company entered into 50-year contract with ČEZ in 2013 to supply coal to the power plant, which included two options to sell it.

Tykač set up the Se.ven Energy holding company with the aim of investing more than 1 billion euros power plants fired by fossil fuels, even as utilities shift to renewables.

In 2017, Tykač was to offer 10 billion crowns for the Počerady plant, but the supervisory board of state-controlled ČEZ rejected the sale. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO), then minister of finance, also opposed the sale.

3Kino Film Festival to screen 60 films in Prague under Freedom theme

The 6th edition of the Central European film festival 3Kino will feature some 60 films under the theme ‘Islands of Freedom’.

Films will screen from 10 to 15 October in the Prague cinemas Lucerna, Světozor, Atlas and Evald, and include new features by Czech director Václav Marhoul (‘The Painted Bird’) and Polish director Agnieszka Holland (‘Mr. Jones’).

The 3Kino festival jury will first award prize to the best feature film, selected from 11 competition films. The award ceremony will take place on 14 October at the Lucerna cinema.

NHL: Blackhawks and Flyers face off in Prague for 2019-20 season opener

The National Hockey League’s 2019-20 regular season begins on Friday when the Philadelphia Flyers take on the Chicago Blackhawks at Prague’s O2 Arena.

Several Czech nationals will face off against each other. Playing for the Flyers is Jakub Voráček, the team’s right winger and an alternate captain. Playing for the Blackhawks are forward David Kämpf and centre Dominik Kubalík, in his NHL debut.

Although originally drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2013, Kubalík has had to wait until now for a chance to actually play in the NHL and spent last season playing in Switzerland.

This is the third straight year that the NHL returns to Europe as part of its efforts to grow the local fan base in hockey-mad countries such as the Czech Republic.

The match starts at 8pm local Prague time. It is the showcase event of the 2019 NHL Global Series.

Weather outlook

Rain is in the forecast for Saturday morning, with sleet or light snowfall likely in the northern half of the country. Average daytime highs should range from 8 to 12 Celsius. Sunday should be partly cloudy and a bit warmer.