President Miloš Zeman met with his Israeli counterpart Simon Perez on Monday at the start of a four -day state visit to Israel. The heads of state praised their countries’ above-standard relations and discussed the Middle East peace process. President Zeman said it is the duty of the international community to fight terrorism, because negotiating with terrorists only made them stronger. Mr. Zeman described Israel as an island of democracy in the Middle East. The Czech president is also due to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanjahu and is expected to deliver a keynote speech in Jerusalem.
The Czech president on Monday toned down his controversial proposal that the Czech Embassy in Tel Aviv should be moved to Jerusalem. In response to outraged reactions from Palestinian leaders and criticism at home, Mr. Zeman told journalists he had envisioned such a move only after the conclusion of the Middle East Peace process and the construction of a residential quarter for foreign diplomats in Jerusalem.
The Czech Republic will fail to draw 30 to 70 billion crowns from EU funds in the 2007 to 2013 period. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said on Monday this was due to the somewhat complicated EU mechanism of fund drawing and the inability of many Czech public officials to present long-term projects and goals. The prime minister said he ascribed this failure to all post-2007 governments which had underestimated the task of drawing EU funds and closed their eyes to weaknesses in strategic planning.
Former president Vaclav Klaus on Monday launched his new book The Czech Republic at a Crossroads. The book is his fiercest criticism of the EU to date, in which the president claims the EU contributes to everything bad in Czech politics, society and the economy and says the country cannot make a headway and effect structural changes unless it makes a radical cut and leaves the EU. The country’s leading Eurosceptic said at the book launch in Prague that the Czech Republic was now at a crossroads and had two options: either to try to reform the EU from within or leave its ranks. He said there was no reason to fear a clean break from Brussels, since such a move would be akin to the Czech-Slovak divorce: trams would still run, water would flow and the lights would still shine.
The Czech Academy of Sciences has protested against a recent statement made by Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok who said the academy received adequate funding but squandered money due to a poor system of assessing research results. The Science Council of the Academy rejected the claim saying it was not only unfair but it undermined the position of the Czech Academy of Sciences and belittled the value of thousands of successful projects undertaken.
Czech industrial output increased by 1.6 percent year-on-year in August after an annual rise of 2.1 percent in July, the Czech Statistics Office said on Monday. In month-on-month terms, seasonally adjusted industrial output was 4.7 percent higher and the value of new contracts grew by 12.3 percent year-on-year. Industrial output in August followed July´s growth that came after a two-month fall. The biggest annual growth was registered in manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers at 26.1 percent.
Arcelor Mittal Ostrava is to invest one billion crowns into the modernization of its steelworks. The investment should increase the quality of its products, expand the steelworks production capacity and boost its competitiveness. According to the company’s general director Tapas Rajderkara Mittal wants to increase its exports outside of the European Union. Together with its daughter companies Arcelor Mittal employs 7500 people.
The police are pressing criminal charges against a number of firms involved in the corruption case around David Rath, former governor of central Bohemia. According to the internet news site ihned the police have charged eight firms and 9 managers who were involved in manipulated public tenders. The police have not released the names of the firms implicated in the scandal. Companies convicted of breaking the law could be dissolved.
A bailiff has been sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for abuse of office and theft of some 80 million crowns. The bailiff misappropriated money paid by a debtor over several months, sending it to his own private account and investing it in his own business. He also received a five year ban on working in his profession or any other which would entail financial responsibility.
Primator has been named the World’s Best Wheat Beer in 2013. The brew won not only in its category but was deemed the best beer among 600 brews tasted by an international jury at this year’s World Beer Awards in London. Josef Hlavatý, the head of the Primator brewery, said he was delighted with the success of the Primator brew, in particular since wheat beer was traditionally the domain of Bavarian breweries.