Newly appointed Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats, presented President Miloš Zeman with an official list of candidates for ministerial posts at Prague Castle on Monday evening. Sobotka said after the meeting there were no indications from the head of state that he would press for changes to the ministers proposed by the three coalition parties and added that he counted on the Cabinet being up and running by the end of January.
The list features eight representatives of Mr. Sobotka’s party, six candidates from ANO and three from the Christian Democrats. President Zeman has said he has reservations about the qualifications of a number of ministerial candidates and wants to hold individual talks with all of them starting on Wednesday.
The Šumava National Park would in the long term fare better if its management put the emphasis on expanding its unspoilt wilderness area, according to a study released on Monday. The study by a British based consultancy Eftec looked at the social and economic benefits of operating the park as it has been in recent years, allowing construction and ski developments, or expanding the wilderness area. Construction and ski development might bring short term benefits but would discourage eco-tourism which promises to take off over the next decade, it said. The study was commissioned by the Czech Academy of Sciences and will be handed over to the new minister of environment.
Crime increased in the Czech Republic last year by around 7 percent, the national police force announced on Monday. Police said they were faced with a work load of around 325,000 cases. One of the biggest increases last year was in burglaries of homes with a 20 percent rise in cases over the previous 12 months. Many newly completed homes had minimal security, police said. There were, however, six fewer murders than the previous year.
One of the biggest causes of the crime wave was the controversial amnesty of prisoners granted by former president Václav Klaus at the start of 2013. Police said they are now on the tracks of around 40 percent of the 6,300 prisoners released at the time.
A court in Prague on Monday began hearing the case of former defence minister Martin Barták and arms dealer Michal Smrž charged with corruption in the purchase of Tatra trucks for the Czech army. The prosecution believes that in 2008, Mr Barták in his capacity as then deputy defence minister asked the truck maker’s supervisory board head for a five-million dollar bribe to smoothen the deal. On Monday, Mr Barták denied any involvement in the alleged corruption, and dismissed the charges as “obvious nonsense”. If convicted, the former defence minister faces 12 years in prison.
Two of the three main Czech telecommunications operators, Telefonica and Vodafone, will together layoff some 700 employees, according to Czech business website iHned. All three mobile phone network operators in the Czech Republic, which also includes T-Mobile, have faced worsening conditions and a long-term drop in profits. At the same time, the firms have been forced to invest billions of crowns in the next generation mobile phone network. According to the website, Vodafone, the third-largest operator on the Czech market, will let go around 11 percent of its 1,800 employees, continuing in lay-offs from last year. T-Mobile, which let go several hundred people in 2013, confirmed it would lay-off several dozen people this year.
The Czech Republic’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, is operating with its full complement of 15 judges after President Miloš Zeman made two new appointments on Monday. The head of state appointed Jan Musil and Jiří Zemánek to the vacant posts. Musil is regarded as an expert on criminal law and Zemánek on European law and national compliance of national legislation with EU rules. Three new vacancies on the court will occur in May, June and September this year when the terms of existing judges expire.
The Czech National Heritage Institute says it added 46 new buildings and monuments to its list of endangered sites that should be saved in 2013. The additions include castles, stately homes, vineyards, a bridge, and abbey complex. Being added to the list is both a warning to owners that they need to take urgent conservation action and a means of helping them find funds for the work. In spite of the new additions, the overall number of endangered sites on the list fell by six to total 885 in 2013 after repairs were carried out at some sites.
A new multi-genre arts festival entitled Spectaculare gets underway in Prague on Monday. Featuring theatre, contemporary dance, alternative music and visual arts, it will run at venues such as DOX and Palace Akropolis until January 31. The opening event at the New Stage of the National Theatre will feature the Belgian dance troupe Mossoux-Bonté and Czech musicians Clarinet Factory, who will be celebrating 20 years of existence. Another highlight should be a performance by UK electronic musician Jon Hopkins on January 30.
The Czech men’s tennis number one Tomáš Berdych has reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Berdych made it into the last eight in Melbourne for the fourth time in a row with a comfortable 6-2 6-2 6-3 win over Kevin Anderson of South Africa on Sunday. He now faces Spaniard David Ferrer for a place in the semi-finals at the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.
Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický has confirmed his desire to continue playing for the Czech national football squad. Rosický gave the message to newly installed team manager Pavel Vrba over the weekend. Following the Czech failure to qualify for this year’s world cup, Rosický suggested he might concentrate solely on his club career. Vrba was visiting a number of Czech players based in England and had the chance to watch Arsenal and Chelsea’s home games. Rosický, 33, although temporarily sidelined with an injury, is currently enjoying one of his most successful spells at Arsenal.
It should be rather cloudy with some rain in the coming days. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 8 degrees Celsius.