Dutch minister of foreign affairs and immigration, Bert Koenders and Klaas Dijkhoff, have reportedly admitted on a trip to Prague Friday that the EU agreement on sharing out immigrants through quotas is not fully working. The Dutch delegation was in the Czech capital to sound out the Czech government at the start of the Netherland’s six month presidency of the European Council during the first half of 2016. Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek repeated that all of the Visegrad Four countries are opposed to immigrant quotas. Sources say the Dutch are hoping the Czech Republic will play a moderating role and curb possible conflicts over the next months in particular with Poland and Hungary. A report to the Czech government next Wednesday says only 259 immigrants out of the 160,000 earmarked for relocation from Italy and Greece actually moves to new destination by the end of 2015.
The West Bohemian spa towns of Karlovy Vary, Mariánské Lázně, and Fratiškovy Lázně still have a chance of being included in a prestigious UNESCO list of heritage sites but the Moravian spa of Luhačovice is not longer in contention. That was the result of a two day working group in Prague examining the bids of the Czech spa towns. They will still have to take their chances of being listed along with five other European spas, including Bath, Vichy, and Baden Baden.
Minister of defence and environment, Martin Stropnický and Richard Brabec, on Friday symbolically handed over the former military exercise area of Brdy, which is now a protected landscape area. Around a third of the designated area of around 350 square kilometres is already open to the public. Remaining areas though still have to checked for unexploded munitions, a process is scheduled to last until the end of 2017. Paths also still have to be properly signposted. The area, around 40 minutes by car from Prague, is likely to become a popular destination for cyclists and walkers.
Czech researchers from the Academy of Science have taken part in a discovery which could dramatically increase the speed of saving computer data. Scientists have come up with a special crystal whose magnetic reactions prompted by electricity lend itself to electronic data storage. That use still has to be worked on and fine-tuned. Study results from the initial research have been unveiled in the latest edition of the magazine Science.
Czech police have called for charges to be pressed against the head of the country’s independent energy regulator Alena Vitásková over alleged abuse of her position after concluding their investigation. The charges relate to Vitásková’s hiring of former supreme state attorney Renata Vesecká to a top post within the office although she lacked experience in energy regulation. Police say damages amounting to around one million crowns. Vitásková is already the subject of another court case for giving a permit to a solar facility before it was operational ,allowing substantially higher subsidy payments. The government is reported Monday to discuss moves to sideline her from her position.
Czech tour operator Fischer last year achieved a record turnover of around 4.0 billion crowns, around a fifth higher than in 2014. The final profit rose to 145 million crowns with the number of clients climbing to 300,000 from 266,000. The tour operator said that it has increased its offer of winter and summer destinations.
Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek flies out to Tehran Friday accompanied by a 60-strong business delegation to Iran. The minister starts a four day working visit which includes the opening of a Czech Trade office in the Iranian capital. Iran is the target for many worldwide trade delegations with numerous export opportunities as the decades of business isolation and embargoes appear to be coming to an end.
The court case involving an ex aide to former Czech prime minister Mirek Topolánek and a former US ambassador reopens in Prague on Friday. The case focuses on the alleged claims for a bribe by Marek Dalík, the former right hand man of the centre-right premier. Dalík is accused of demanding bribes in connection with a contract for Pandur armoured personnel carriers being supplied by the Austrian manufacturer Steyr. The star witness Friday will be former US ambassador Richard Graber via a video conference link with the courtroom.
Czech Minister of Finance Andrej Babiš will try at a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels on Friday to push his main proposal for clamping down on VAT fraud. Babiš will seek the go ahead from fellow ministers for the Czech Republic to have the widest possible remit to use so-called reverse charge VAT, where the tax is paid by the consumer and not the seller. He believes that greater use of reverse charge could save the EU a large part of the around 170 billion euros lost every year in unpaid VAT.
In tennis, the draw for the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, appears to give top Czech players a fairly easy run. Sixth seed Tomáš Berdych will face the young Indian player Yuki Bhambri, ranked 95. Petra Kvitová, also seeded six, faces an a s yet unknown qualifier. And Karolína Plíšková, the ninth seed, faces Australian newcomer to the circuit Kimberly Birrell.