Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has attacked European Commission plans to create a mechanism for sharing out refugees between EU countries. A proposal to be present by the end of the month would propose the EU offer to take 20,000 refugees over the next two year who would be endangered if they stayed in their own countries. The Czech share of the quota would be 2.3 percent or 523 people. Sobotka said that the Czech Republic is willing to step up its help to refugees but that decisions needed to be taken on a national basis and not according to some EU formula. The Czech Republic was not a final destination for most refugees and there would be no way of keeping those allocated to the country under the proposed formula, he said.
The Czech Republic has scored moderately in the biggest ever ranking of countries school performances carried out by the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD). The Czechs came in 21st,, just behind Britain, out of the 76 countries around the world surveyed. Poland one of the higher scorers in eleventh place, Slovakia came 37th. The top five scorers, in tests based maths and science ability of 15 year olds, were Asian countries and the bottom five were African. But the good news for many African and Latin American countries is that modest improvements in their education results could translate in major advances in their economic performance.
A new collective wage agreement has been hammered out between management and workers at Czech Airlines with the help of a mediator. According to unions, the new deal will make good some of the dramatic wage cuts imposed in February when the previous wages and conditions deal expired. A new collective deal has been sought ever since. The ČTK news agency reported that earlier cuts in pay for pilots of around 25% would be around half that amount under the proposed new deal. Airline management have refused to comment on the deal before it is approved by the company board.
Nola, one of the last five northern white rhinos left in the world, which is on loan from the Czech Republic, has been taken ill. The San Diego Zoo in California said that she has been treated for an abscess and has been given antibiotics. The rhino was also sick in December when she lost her appetite and appeared listless. Nola, in her forties, has been loaned to the US zoo from the Czech Republic’s Dvůr Králové zoo. Other rhinos from the Czech zoo have been taken to Kenya in the hope that they would breed.
New World Resources (NWR) the group which owns the hard coal miner OKD, announced a turnaround in the first quarter of the year. In place of a loss amounting to almost 750 million crowns last year, it announced a profit of around 712 million crowns. The turnaround has resulted from a sharp drop in hard coal mined and cost cutting as prices for hard coal stay near record lows. NWR bosses said they had hopes of keeping the threatened Paskov mine open after its closure now earmarked for 2017 but that further cost cutting would be needed for that to happen.
A former top civil servant in the Ministry for Regional Development is facing a sentence of up to 10 years in prison on charges of accepting bribes. Proceedings against the former section chief at the ministry, Vladislav Koval, were announced by the state prosecutor’s office. Koval has defended himself with the argument that he was only testing whether a company boss was willing to offer a bribe and was prepared to stop all dealings with the company. Koval was connected with the ANO party which has since cut all ties with him. He could face a prison sentence and seizure of property if found guilty.
Czech forward Ondřej Palát picked up a goal and an assist on Tuesday for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of their second-round series against the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Habs had opportunities on the night to score but failed to convert in the first two periods; Tomáš Plekanec missed a golden opportunity in the first. Late in the third period, Pacioretty finally put the Habs on the scoreboard to make it 3-1 but the Bolts got an empty-net goal shortly afterwards to put the match beyond reach to send the Canadiens home for the summer. The Bolts face either the New York Rangers or the Washington Capitals next.
Prison sentences of five to nine years were handed down by a Zlín court on Wednesday on seven of the main players in the so-called methanol affair. Sentences of up to 21 years were originally handed down last year but appeals were lodged the Olomouc High Court which returned the cases to Zlín. Most of Wednesday’s verdicts for the seven defendants are a lot shorter than the original penalties. The methanol affair erupted in the autumn of 2012 when the first deaths were caused by spirits mixed in a deadly cocktail with methanol. Forty-seven people were eventually killed and around 90 seriously poisoned with the state at one stage putting a ban on spirits sales.
The Czech Republic will face Finland in the quarter-finals of the World Ice Hockey World Championships in Prague and Ostrava. The Czechs found out their first opponent in the knockout stage of the competition after the conclusion of the group stage on Tuesday, when they beat Switzerland 2:1 after a shootout to finish third in Group A. The hosts play the Finns on Thursday.
The opening concert of the 70th edition of the Prague Spring International Music Festival took place at the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House on Tuesday evening. The North German Radio Symphony Orchestra played at the curtain-raiser, becoming the first German ensemble to do so in the history of the Czech Republic’s biggest classical music event. Under the baton of Thomas Hengelbrok the orchestra performed a rapturously received My Country by Bedřich Smetana, which traditionally opens the Prague Spring.