The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, will visit Slovakia on Thursday in what the Czech News Agency said would be his first bilateral foreign trip since becoming head of government. Mr. Sobotka, who made a brief visit to Hungary for a Visegrad Four meeting soon after his government was appointed, will hold talks with his Slovak opposite number, Robert Fico of the left-leaning Smer, with whom he said he enjoyed long-term friendly relations. Mr. Sobotka said the two would discuss among other issues the holding of a joint session of both countries’ governments.
Mr. Sobotka will also visit Brussels before the end of February. His spokesman, Martin Ayrer, said on Saturday that the prime minister’s visit to the centre of the European Union would signal a turnaround in Czech policy with regard to the idea of further European integration. No details of the visit have been released, but it is likely Mr. Sobotka will go to Brussels soon after his government seeks confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on February 18.
The Czech House at the Winter Olympics in Sochi was officially opened on Saturday. The Czech Olympic HQ is considerably more modest than its equivalent at the London Summer Olympics, partly because 50,000 Czech live in the UK capital and none live in Sochi, the chairman of the Czech Olympic Committee, Jiří Kejval, said at the official launch. The Czech House was opened by the country’s president, Miloš Zeman, and the head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Dominik Duka.
The Czech team at the Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi have taken their first medal, bronze for Jaroslav Soukup in the 10 kilometre sprint in the biathlon. Soukup, who is 31, finished seven tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival to reach the podium, while another Czech, Ondřej Moravec, finished eighth in Saturday’s event. The Czech Republic took six medals at the last Winter Olympics, in Vancouver.
The Facebook page of a group that makes fun of the local authorities in the Czech Republic’s second city Brno has been removed after a complaint was lodged by a lawyer acting for Mayor Roman Onderka. The “Žít Brno” page, which had 17,000 fans, disappeared on Friday night. Neither the mayor nor his lawyer was available for comment. The group had “hijacked” what they regarded as a nonsensical official city slogan (“Žít Brno” translates roughly as “Live Brno” but does not make grammatical sense) and parodied local officials, including Mr. Onderka.
Czech Airlines has dropped a plan to have its new uniforms designed by the local fashion designer Blanka Matragi. A spokesperson said the reason for the rethink was a disagreement between the designer and CSA over the contract for the uniforms. For her part, Matragi said the deal on the table would not have allowed her to express her artistic vision. The airline will now either hire a different designer or stick with its current outfits.
Temperatures in the coming month could reach as high as 13 degrees Celsius, according to a monthly outlook published by the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute on Saturday. Thermometers could record up to 13 centigrade in the coming week, forecasters said, adding that the entire four-week period in question should see above-average temperatures. However, temperatures will also fall sharply at times, possibly reaching about -10 degrees Celsius during the day.
The Christian Democrats have threatened to leave the government if their partners support a Communist party proposal to scrap the law preventing former communist agents from holding high posts in public service. Party leader Pavel Belobrádek said at a press briefing in Prague on Friday that all three Christian Democrat ministers would hand in their resignations if the proposal to scrap the security vetting law wins approval. The opposition Civic Democrats and TOP 09 are also against the law being scrapped, but the Social Democrats and ANO feel that almost a quarter of a century after the fall of communism the law should be replaced by standard civil service legislation.
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has said the repressions in Ukraine must stop. Speaking at a press briefing in Prague on Friday the Czech foreign minister said the international community could not close its eyes to the torture, threats and beatings to which political opponents were being subjected in Ukraine. Mr. Zaorálek said that the 20th century provided ample proof of the danger of ignoring oppression which left unchallenged would spiral out of control. He called on the Ukrainian leadership to release all detained activists, search for the missing and punish those responsible. He said the Czech side was ready to provide humanitarian aid to the injured and financially support the democratic transformation process in Ukraine.
In Sochi for the Winter Olympic Games, President Milos Zeman on Friday met with his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping for talks focusing largely on economic cooperation. The two statesmen agreed to renew the activities of a Czech-Chinese commission for economic cooperation, which last met in 2009, and the Czech president said Prague would host a meeting of Chinese and central and east European leaders in view of revitalizing business ties. The last such meeting took place in Warsaw in 2012. The Czech and Chinese presidents also exchanged mutual invitations for state visits. The last official visit by a Chinese leader to Prague took place before the fall of communism in 1987.
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