If his ANO party does not win the next general elections, Prime Minister
Andrej Babiš will leave politics. Mr. Babiš made the statement in an
interview with news site Blesk.cz on Wednesday. The next general elections
are to take place in October 2021.
Mr Babiš’s party is currently firmly in the lead, poling regularly around 30 percent, with the opposition Pirate Party and Civic Democrats vying for second place at around 16 percent.
Czech Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar has reaffirmed his country’s
promise to reach the 2 percent of GDP defence spending threshold agreed
during the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales.
The ability of the Czech Republic to stay true to the pledge was recently questioned by Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček, who said the country would either have to enact major changes to its budget or a serious debate on the state’s sources of income would have to take place.
In an interview with Czech Television on Tuesday evening, Mr Metnar said that he had no idea how the deputy premier came to this conclusion and stressed that no other government ministers had brought up the point. He said he is counting on the Czech Republic to reach the 2 percent threshold by 2024.
However, in a recent Facebook post, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš the Czech Republic could contribute 2 percent of GDP to defence by 2024 “if all goes according to plan” and there is “stable economic growth”
Miloš Vystrčil of the Civic Democratic Party was voted in as the new
Speaker of the Senate of the Czech Republic on Wednesday, after receiving
52 of the 76 votes. He ran against Jiří Růžička of the TOP 09 party,
who took over the position as acting leader of the upper-house following
the death of the previous senate chair Jaroslav Kubera, who died of a heart
attack in January.
Mr Vystrčil, who has been a senator since 2010, was the favourite ahead of the election after ANO party and Christian Democrat senators promised to support him during the vote. Before becoming a member of the upper house he served as the governor of the Vysočina region and mayor of Telč.
China’s Embassy in Prague had threatened to retaliate against leading
Czech companies if a prominent senator went ahead as planned to visit
Taiwan, according to a letter dated 10 January reviewed by Reuters.
The letter, written in Czech and sent to President Miloš Zeman’s office, suggested that Škoda Auto, PPF’s consumer lending arm Home Credit Group, and instrument maker Petrof Pianos would all suffer.
The debate was made moot when Czech senate chairman and speaker Jaroslav Kubera, died on 20 January of heart failure ahead of the planned trip.
“Czech companies whose representatives visit Taiwan with Chairman Kubera will not be welcome in China or with the Chinese people,” the letter says, according to Reuters.
Thousands of images of Czech children are circulating on a Russian website
for paedophiles, the news server Seznam Zprávy reports, following an
in-depth investigation of the so called dark web.
Many of the images were taken from social media accounts of the children’s parents, as well as from school and summer camp events, and Scout camps.
In some cases, particular individual forums have arisen around specific Czech youths, whose full names and other data are listed or easily found.
Seznam Zprávy reports that the Russian site is also frequented by Czech-based paedophiles, and local police are investigating.
The Constitutional Court has rejected proposals put forward by President
Miloš Zeman and others to annul part of a conflict of interest law
popularly known as “Lex Babiš”.
The 2017 legislation was so nicknamed as it seemed to specifically target Andrej Babiš, the then finance minister and current prime minister, who controlled a number of major Czech media. He has since placed those and other assets in two trusts.
Despite a presidential veto, the bill was pushed through Parliament, leading Zeman to file a petition arguing that it was unconstitutional because it violates a prohibition on discrimination on the basis of property. Members of Babiš
“Lex Babiš” prohibits members of the government from owning and operating radio and television stations and publishing periodicals. At the same time, it prevents companies in which cabinet members have at least a 25 percent share from bidding for public contracts.
Zeman said on Tuesday through his spokesman that he respects the Constitutional Court decision.
Prague’s Václav Havel Airport handled a record 1.05 million passengers
in January, almost 80,000 more in annual terms for the month.
However, the coronavirus outbreak in China and local major storm Sabine is likely to negatively impact February figures.
Passenger numbers have been growing steadily since 2013. Last year, Václav Havel Airport handled a record 17.8 million passengers, up 6 percent year on year.
The growth was due to more direct links to exotic holiday destinations as well as more connections to the most frequented European cities. The top destination was London.
The Czech Senate is due to elect by secret ballot a new speaker of the
upper house on Wednesday to replace Jaroslav Kubera, who died of a heart
attack a month ago.
Civic Democrat Miloš Vystrčil is expected to win the vote, as his party is the largest in the Senate and he has also been endorsed by the Christian Democrats, Social Democrats and ANO party of Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.
The only other candidate is current Senate first vice-chairman Jiří Růžička, an independent aligned with TOP 09 and the Party of Independents and Mayors.
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