Thursday was the last day for Czechs to submit applications to vote in the European Parliament elections at other locations other than where they are registered as having permanent residence. In spite of the state holiday, offices at local councils were open to take applications which could also be submitted in electronic form by the end of the day. Offices said interest was less than in the parliamentary elections last October but higher than for the European elections four years ago. Voting to the European Parliament takes place on May 23 and 24 with Czechs returning 21 representatives this time round to the parliament in Brussels.
A Dutch based real estate group whose man assets are tens of thousands of flats in the eastern city of Ostrava and surroundings has cancelled its plans to launch on the Amsterdam stock exchange. Domus NV announced that its plans for an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the exchange have been dropped due to market conditions but that they could be resurrected in the future. The company is partly owned by the BXR group, one of whose main shareholders is Czech billionaire Zdeněk Bakala.
Earlier, in a series of the traditional appointments made on May 8, president Zeman promoted Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant-General Petr Pavel to the top ranking position of Army General. The head of state also recommended that Minister of Defense Martin Stropnický to do his utmost to place Pavel in a top position in the NATO hierarchy. Fifth-two year old Pavel has been Chief of General Staff since 2012. In another move, the son of former general Heliodor Píka, who was executed following a show trial on the orders of Czechoslovak Communist authorities in 1949, Milan Píka, was made a Brigadier General. Zeman said the honour for the 91-year-old was in recognition of his own merits.
Czech president Miloš Zeman led a commemoration by war veterans, army staff, politicians, and citizens of the 69th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe at Prague’s Vítkov memorial on Thursday. Similar events were held around the country. The traditional Vítkov commemoration included a minute’s silence for all those who were killed as a result of the conflict. Defense minister Martin Stropnický told journalists that commemorations of such a kind were necessary, especially given the context of the current unrest in Ukraine. Thursday is a national holiday in the Czech Republic.
A clear battle over the Czech nomination for the next European commissioner is taking shape with ANO leader Andrej Babiš rejecting prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s suggestion that former finance minister Pavel Mertlík should get the job. Babiš said that his party wanted the leader of its European Parliament election list Pavel Telička to get the job, adding that he had superior qualifications after already serving for a short period as a commissioner. Sobotka said that Telička’s candidacy was sullied by his past work as a lobbyist in Brussels. Telička referred obliquely to his possible candidacy on Wednesday saying that in the final analysis the European Parliament would decide who is confirmed in the post. The mandate of the current Euroepan Commission runs out at the end of October.
In ice hockey, both Jaromír Jagr and Roman Červenka took part in training after the Czech national squad arrived in Belarus ahead of the start of the world championships on Friday. Both players had been nursing injuries suffered in the championship warm-up tournament in Sweden. The first Czech match is against Slovakia on Friday night. The Czechs are in the same opening group as Sweden, Canada, Italy, Denmark, Norway, and France.
In football, Czech and Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech has successfully underwent surgery for his dislocated shoulder on Wednesday according to the London club’s website. He will be out of action for eight to 10 weeks, it added. That means he should be ready for the start of the new Premier League season in August. Čech dislocated his shoulder in the first leg of the Champions League semi- final against Atletico Madrid on April 22 and was stretchered off the pitch.
The board of the Czech National Bank suggested on Wednesday that it could quit its weak crown policy later than initially expected. The bank originally expected its currency interventions to keep the national currency lower than 27 crowns/euro would finish at the beginning of 2015. But it now appears, according to the latest comments by bank governor Miroslav Singer, that inflationary pressure will still be so low by then that the weak crown can probably be pursued longer
The TOP 09 party has called for the country’s highest honour to be awarded to a former Soviet dissident. The party wants the Order of the White Lion to be awarded in memorium to Natalia Gorbanevska. Along with seven others the Russian staged a short lived protest in Moscow’s Red Square against the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. She was imprisoned afterwards and later detained in a psychiatric institution. She left for France in 1975 and died there last November.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has warned that preparations for finalising a proposed new law on the Czech civil service have to be hurried up if the target of getting it into place by the start of 2015 is to be met. Some of the details over how to create a de-politicized and professional civil service have yet to be agreed between government parties. Deputy prime minister Pavel Bělobrádek this week cast doubt on the targets to get the bill through the lower house in June and the upper house, the Senate, by July. The European Commission has threatened to block funding to the Czech Republic unless the key legislation is up and working in 2015.
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