Cyclist Zdeněk Štybar won the sixth stage of the Tour de France on Thursday, becoming the first Czech to win a stage in the famous race for 14 years. The Czech took the lead in the streets of Le Havre during the final stretch of the over 190 kilometre stage starting in Abbeville. Štybar said he had been encouraged by his team to take a crack at winning the stage after his efforts on Tuesday. The win takes Štybar to ninth overall in the race placement, one minutes and six seconds behind the leader and team colleague Tony Martin.
Head of state Miloš Zeman repeated, through his spokesman, Thursday his view that refugees from culturally divergent backgrounds would not be happy in the Czech Republic. Christian Syrians did, however, have the right cultural background to settle in the country, the president’s spokesman said. The migration issue is due to be raised in the lower house of parliament on Thursday. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has also called a meeting of all party leaders to explain the government’s decision on Wednesday and the mandate for talks with EU partners given to interior minister Milan Chovanec.
Czech companies are owed around one billion crowns by Greek firms during the current crisis, according estimates from the Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. The association announced Thursday it had created a contact point for firms dealing with delayed payments or deliveries because of the closure of Greek banks. Banking experts and lawyers were prepared to offer free advice to those in need, it added. Two-way trade between the Czech Republic and Greece is relatively small but late payments or other problems can threaten the survival of some firms. Prompt payment was not a characteristic of Greek companies even before the current crisis, say experts.
The Ministry of Environment has suggested 55 new locations be added to the existing list of special conservation areas. The existing targets for 70 sites will be changes, the borders of 253 areas changes and 11 sites will be abolished. The suggestions will now be subject to inter-ministerial discussion. The changes should take effect at the start of 2016. The European Commission has been pressing the Czech Republic to update its list and started infringement proceedings against it for lack of action. Significant EU funds could be withheld if Brussels is not happy with the progress being made.
Police in the West Bohemian city of Plzeň say they had detained a man suspected of shooting several times at a bus carrying foreign workers from an industrial zone on Wednesday. The weapon likely used in the attack was also recovered. Around 90 passengers were travelling in the bus at the time of the attack but no-one was injured. The bus driver later found three bullets in the vehicle. The motives of the attacker are still being investigated. Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec suggested it could have been motivated against the foreign workers.
The unemployment rate in June fell by 0.2 percentage points to 6.2 percent according to figures released Thursday by the Labour Office. The number of unemployed stands at just under 451,400, the lowest level since April 2009. The number of vacancies, at almost 97,000, is the highest level since December 2008. There are still, however, just under five would be candidates for every job and unemployment blackspots where the jobless rate is still over 11 percent.
The Czech annual inflation rate hit 0.8 percent in June compared with 0.7 percent in May, according to the latest figures from the Czech Statistical Office. One of the main factors were higher prices for food and drinks and a sharp hike in the price of cigarettes and other tobacco products. Costs of basic utilities such as gas and water also rose but electricity prices were lower year-on-year. The Czech National Bank has a target of 2.0 annual inflation.
The Czech Constitutional Court on Thursday largely rejected a call from President Miloš Zeman to overturn a new civil service law. The court admitted one change to the law. The head of state called for large swathes of the new law, which came into effect at the start of the year, to be changed or for it to be abolished altogether on the grounds that it had not been approved in the right manner. The president also questioned the existence of politically nominated deputy ministers. The law aimed at introducing a professional Czech civil service was pushed through at the insistence of the European Commission, which threatened to withhold European funds unless the Czech government fulfilled its long term promises to act.
The Czech Republic is ready to accept 1,500 refugees by 2017, the cabinet decided on Wednesday. The first migrants should be accepted in September. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka described it as a one-off act of solidarity. Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Bělobrádek said the Czech Republic would accept 1,100 refugees from Italy and Greece, and another 400 from refugee camps mainly in Jordan, Kurdistan and Syria. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec is set to present the plan at a meeting of EU ministers on Thursday. The cabinet wants to negotiate with the EU about the regime of returning the refugees who failed to gain Czech asylum.
The Czech government on Thursday approved a list of nine new national cultural monuments. The list includes historical and art objects as well as church monuments that are subject to property restitutions. Among the new cultural monuments is the Vyšebrod cycle, a set of unique panel paintings by Vyšebrod Altar Masters from the 14th century and a rare gothic painting Madona z Veveří. Before the additions, there were 297 national monuments.