The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has tasked the minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, with conducting a security audit of the Czech Republic in the light of terrorist threats to Europe. Speaking to journalists on the first day of a week-long official visit to China, the PM said Mr. Chovanec should introduce a system establishing set reactions to particular levels of threat. He said the minister was working on measures that would be discussed at the ministries and by the State Security Council.
Thousands of students and other people gathered at Prague’s Albertov on Sunday to mark the historical events of November 17 1939 and 1989. On Tuesday, when the landmarks are usually commemorated, police refused to allow students to gather there due to the fact the group Bloc Against Islam had booked the spot for a rally addressed by President Miloš Zeman. Participants in Sunday’s gathering carried signs reading Education against fear and No to violence and collective guilt. The Nazis subjected Czech students to terror on November 17 1939; it later became International Students Day and in 1989 saw the beginning of the Velvet Revolution.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, began a week-long official visit to China on Sunday with an appearance at a Czech-Chinese business seminar in Shanghai. Mr. Sobotka told the assembled that the Czech Republic had welcomed several new Chinese investors in recent months and that he believed more contracts would be agreed during his visit. He is being accompanied by the Czech ministers of health, transport and local development, as well as a large delegation of business people.
The Czech Army could send up to 200 medics and chemicals specialists in the case of ground operations against Islamic State, the Czech minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said on a television discussion show on Sunday. Such a deployment would need to be discussed by the government and would need to take in the Czech Republic’s domestic needs, he said. Mr. Stropnický said there were many potential snags connected to ground operations in the Middle East and large states were reluctant to undertake them. It is “clear to everybody” that Russia must take part in any coalition against Islamic State, he added.
The Christmas tree that will adorn Prague’s Old Town Square during the festive season was felled by national champion lumberjack Jiří Vorlíček in Česká Lípa, north Bohemia on Sunday. The 23-metre spruce is set to reach the capital on Tuesday. It will be lit on Saturday, marking the launch of the city’s Christmas markets, and remain in place until January 6.
An advisor to the chief of staff of the Czech Army, Ludvík Cimburek, says the country’s secret services are beginning to monitor the self-styled Czechoslovak Soldiers in Reserve. The group are supporters of President Miloš Zeman and Russia’s Vladimir Putin and regard NATO as a criminal organisation. Mr. Cimburek told the Czech News Agency that there could be problems in future if its members were to join the army or police force. Czechoslovak Soldiers in Reserve signs were held aloft at a recent anti-Islam rally at which Mr. Zeman spoke.
Visitor numbers at Czech state-owned castles and chateaus this year are expected to pass the five-million mark, Novinky.cz reported. Over 4.9 million visitors at properties administered by the National Heritage Institute had been recorded by the end of October, some 300,000 more than at the same point in 2014, a year which saw record numbers, the news website said. A representative of the National Heritage Institute said increasing numbers of castles and chateaus were now open year-round rather that in the traditional April to October period.
The third national food collection was held around the Czech Republic on Saturday. Over 470 shops – including branches of major chains – took part in the drive in which members of the public could donate non-perishable foodstuffs that would then be redistributed to the needy. Some schools also participated for the first time. People gave 66 tonnes of food in the first year of the collection; last year the figure rose to 173 tonnes
Temperatures in the Czech Republic should be below the long-term average in the coming week, according to a monthly medium-term forecast issued by the Czech Hydro-meteorological Institute on Saturday. Daytime highs over the next seven days will reach around 3 degrees Celsius while it will be around 2 degrees Celsius below freezing at night. The subsequent pre-Christmas period should be relatively warm for the time of year, the forecasters said.
Milan Kubek has been reelected head of the Czech Medical Chamber. Mr. Kubek received a mandate for a third five-year term in the post after standing unopposed at the organisation’s congress in Brno on Saturday. Addressing the assembled, he said the Czech health care system was in a dismal condition. If the government doesn’t pull on the emergency brake the provision of care to citizens will collapse, Mr. Kubek said. Around 400 delegates representing over 5,000 members attended day one of the two-day conference.