President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday received Czech ambassadors from around the world at Prague Castle. The president highlighted the growing significance of economic diplomacy, particularly in view of the Ukrainian crisis, and said he considered it a success that Czech representatives in Brussels had helped moderate the scope of the EU’s anti-Russian sanctions in favour of Czech exporters. The president also stressed the need to diversify the country’s export strategy and seek new markets further afield. In connection with developments in Iraq, the Czech head of state said international terrorism must be fought on all fronts.
The Czech Health Ministry has requested a complete list of Czech nationals working in countries with Ebola outbreaks as well as Czech students studying in high-risk areas in order to take effective measures against the possible spread of the disease in the Czech Republic. Prague’s Bulovka hospital has the facilities to treat highly infectious diseases and its staff is on standby for a possible emergency, but the Health Ministry says the Czech Republic would not have the facilities required to transfer Ebola patients home from African states should that prove necessary.
Czechs are buying an increasing amount of Fairtrade products, Fairtrade Czech Republic director Hana Chorvátová said at a press conference in Prague on Tuesday. While in 2005 Czechs only bought 3 million crowns worth of fairtrade goods, last year the amount rose to 174 million crowns. By far the most popular fairtrade commodity on the market is coffee.
A random laboratory test of children’s schools supplies for hazardous substances commissioned by the NGO Arnika revealed excessive amounts of toxic substances in three out of eleven tested products. Parents are warned in particular against two fake designer label pen holders Transformers-Optimus Prime and 21st Century which were found to contain several kinds of dangerous phthalates, exceeding permitted norms by up to 150 times. The NGO presented its findings at a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday urging parents to pay attention to the source and quality of the school accessories they acquire for their offspring.
The Health Ministry is planning to have proton therapy for cancer covered by health insurance. According to a proposed amendment to the law, all public health insurance companies would be bound to cover proton therapy if is recommended by one of the country’s 13 oncology centers. At present this form of therapy is used only marginally, despite the fact that Prague has a modern Proton Therapy Centre which takes in patients from around the world. Currently only Prague’s military hospital has an agreement on care with the center and the biggest Czech health insurer Všeobecná Pojištovna is locked in a drawn-out-dispute with it over a controversial contract signed in the past.
The Czech Association of Bailiffs has warned against a spate of fraudulent emails sent in in its name in which people are asked to pay non-existent debts. Hundreds of people have reportedly called in to inquire about the mails. The association’s spokesperson has warned the public not to respond to these requests, send money to the stated accounts and ideally not to open any attachments. She moreover pointed out that bailiffs do not as a rule correspond with debtors by email.
A fresh row has broken out between President Zeman’s Chancellor Vratislav Mynář and a former lawyer at the Office of the President Pavel Hasenkopf. Hasenkopf, who on Monday accepted a court settlement in a drawn-out-dispute with the Office of the President over the authorship of ex-president Vaclav Klaus’ controversial 2013 amnesty, is said to be incensed by Mr. Mynář’s claim that he had agreed to a settlement because he feared he would lose the case. According to his lawyer Mr. Hasenkopf now intends to sue Chancellor Mynář for slander.
An unknown attacker threw acid into the face of a 50-year-old woman in Prague’s Michle district early on Tuesday, the ctk news agency reported. The incident happened in a lift and the attacker managed to escape unnoticed. The woman was rushed to hospital with severe facial burns. A similar incident took place in the city of Plzen last November, where a man attacked his ex-girlfriend in a similar manner. He was charged after nine months and now awaits trial in custody.
Czech exporters expect to lose tens or even hundreds of millions of crowns in contracts over the next twelve months due to the current sanctions between the EU and Russia, according to a poll conducted by the Czech Chamber of Commerce. The poll, which was carried out among 140 Czech firms, reflects that the sanctions do not apply to contracts signed in 2013, explains the chamber’s president Vladimír Dlouhý, adding that exporters will only know the amount of their possible losses before 2015.