Czech politicians have expressed regret and shock at the death of MEP Miloslav Ransdorf. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Friday that while he had disagreed with the politician's opinion on many issues, he had respected him as a politician. President Zeman, meanwhile, called Mr Ransdorf one of the "sharpest intellectuals he had ever met". Members of the Communist Party including deputy leader Jiří Dolejš made clear they had lost a valued colleague and friend.
Czech President Miloš Zeman has expressed full backing for British Prime
Minister David Cameron’s EU reform efforts. He made the statement while
welcoming Mr Cameron for a private meeting at Prague Castle. Earlier on
Friday, the British prime minister met with his Czech counterpart Bohuslav
Sobotka to discuss EU reform and other issues. Mr Cameron also took the
time to lay a wreath at a memorial site at Prague’s Klárov - honouring
Czechoslovak airmen who served in the RAF during the Second World War. The
Czech News Agency suggested that Prime Minister David Cameron would also
still meet with representatives of the opposition Civic Democratic Party
– partners of the British Conservative Party at the European level.
Czech Radio reported Friday that the Czech side will be seeking a end to a British veto on the sale of Czech L-159 planes to Iraq. Some of the radar technology on the plane is British-made and UK authorities are reported to fear it falling into the wrong hands.
British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Prague Friday for talks with his Czech counterpart, Bohuslav Sobotka, and be followed later by a meeting with President Miloš Zeman. The main focus of the talks at the seat of the government was Mr Cameron’s bid to shape a package of EU reforms which he can put to the British public in a future referendum over continued UK membership of the European Union. At the joint press conference which followed, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that Europe would "remain strong if Great Britain stayed" and made clear the Czech Republic would do its utmost to influence a positive outcome. EU reform was not the only issue on the table; also discussed was the ongoing migrant crisis and the threat of Islamic State.
A debate on the adoption of electronic cash registers was again left unresolved on Friday, filibustered by opposition MPs who continue to oppose the passage of the government bill; debate on the matter is to resume in a week’s time. The legislation on electronic cash registers is a flagship move by finance minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš, aimed at cracking down on tax fraud. But it met with strong opposition from the centre-right Civic Democrats and TOP 09, who say it will increase state bureaucracy and force the closure of many small businesses. They have vowed to block it for as long possible.
Communist MEP Miloslav Ransdorf has died at the age of 62. According to Novinky.cz, the politician had suffered a stroke. Earlier reports said Mr Ransdorf was rushed to Prague’s Institute of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at around noon on Friday. IKEM spokeswoman Veronika Velčová confirmed earlier that he had been admitted. Miloslav Ransdorf was a prominent figure on the Czech political scene: a member of the Czech Communist Party since 1972 and a member of the European Parliament since 2004. In December he and several associates were arrested by the Swiss authorities investigating a property fraud case.
The Chief of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, Josef Bečvář, unveiled the new insignia of the Czech Army’s Active Reserve on Friday, a chevron featuring two curved stripes with the words “Aktivní záloha” above the Czech flag. The design of the green-colored stripes was partly inspired by a previous WW II-era badge.
Czech-based computer anti-virus giant Avast opened up new offices in Prague on Thursday night. The company, which employs around 700, mostly in the Czech capital, has moved into five floors of offices in the Pankrác district covering 15,000 square metres. The offices are inspired by Silicon Valley with a free restaurant for employees, gym, and even cinema. Avast software protects around 20 percent of all computers worldwide outside China.
A majority of Czechs, some 60 percent, are against the Czech Republic accepting any refugees fleeing war-torn regions while some 30 percent say they should be allowed to stay but only until they can safely return home. Such are the findings of a new poll released by the CVVM agency. A mere two percent told pollsters that migrants should be accepted and allowed to settle in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic has thus far not been strongly affected by the migrant crisis, used primarily as a transit country to travel on to Germany or other parts of Europe.
The Czech Republic is among 38 countries in the US visa-waiver programme (allowing short-term entry to the United States for tourism or business) affected by changes introduced on Thursday. These affect nationals who come under the programme who are also citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria – no longer eligible for automatic admission; even individuals who are not dual citizens but who visited the countries listed during or after March 2011 are also no longer eligible for visa-free entry. The rules were tightened by the US in reaction to terrorist attacks in Paris and in California.