CzechTrade, the state agency tasked with boosting Czech exports abroad has announced the opening of a new office in Singapore. The city state is frequently placed among the top economic performers in the world with the office also offering a gateway to business in South East Asia, China, and India, the agency said. Design and luxury items as well as food and drink, could be promising export opportunities for Czech manufacturers, it added. Czech exports to Singapore last year rose to just under 6 billion crowns with trade in the other direction amounting to around 15.8 billion crowns.
Czech biathlete Gabriela Soukalová took a second place in the women’s sprint event at Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, on Thursday. The result means she wins a second small globe for the second time in her career. The performance also means that Soukalová extends her overall world cup lead over her nearest rival, Frenchwoman Marie Dorin Habert. The points difference between them is a substantial 92 points, which falls to 57 points when the two worst performances are subtracted.
The former owner of Tábor zoo has been sentenced to five years behind bars by the regional court at České Budějovice, according to Czech Radio. Libor Hrubý was found guilty of fraud concerning his ownership of the zoo between 2011 and April last year. He borrowed 10 million crowns to finance the zoo but eventually only paid back 200,000 crowns of the total sum. The verdict can still be appealed.
The Social Democrat Party of prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called a meeting of the party leadership for Friday evening to discuss the scandal surrounding EU funds for the Stork’s Nest farm and conference centre of ANO leader Andrej Babiš. Calling the meeting, Sobotka said that the deputy prime minister had to address the issue of suspected misuse of 50 million crowns of EU funds. At a meeting of coalition parties on Wednesday no final conclusions were reached. Babiš later said he resented the smallest coaltion party, the Christian Democrats, pushing for answers and supporting a special meeting of parliament scheduled for March 23. The Social Democrats will also discuss at the meeting their stand on a new conflict of interest law.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said the Czech Republic is willing to offer Greece up to 100 experts to help deal with border control and a new system for registering and returning some immigrants to Turkey. The prime minister was speaking to the lower house of parliament’s European committee before heading to Brussels for a summit on immigration starting late Thursday and continuing Friday. It will mainly focus on a new deal with Turkey on hosting immigrants. Sobotka said that the deal should not increase the number of immigrants the Czech Republic has already pledged to take under an EU share out. Prague said last year it would host 1,100 immigrants now located in Italy and Greece.
Union leaders at the Czech Republic’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto say they are prepared to take unlimited strike action to push their wage claims for this year. The current collective agreement runs out at the end of March. Management is currently offering a wage hike of 3 percent with the unions demanding 8 percent. Škoda Auto, part of the Volkswagen group, this week announced record profits for 2015. Last year the two sides agreed on a pay rise of 3.5 percent.
Leader of the ANO party Andrej Babiš has described the quitting of five high placed members of the party on Karlovy Vary city council as a clear out of those who gained office for personal profit. The local party has challenged them to stand down and resign their seats. They have said they will continue as council members and continue in the coalition governing the Czech Republic’s biggest spa city. Some of those who quit complained about the inner working of the party and its embargo on giving out information of its functioning. The latest resignations form part of a series of conflicts in town and city councils where ANO members were elected over the last year.
Attempts to free a Czech cargo barge floundering under a Dresden bridge have hit technical problems. The barge has been stuck under the bridge since late Monday, blocking other traffic. Attempts were started to try and suck most of the cargo of 800 tonnes of salt from the barge so that it could be moved. The attempts have failed due to the moist conditions which meant the salt clogged in the tubes. Other solutions to shift the cargo are now being sought. The hope had been to get the barge free by Friday.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called for the EU summit to seek the release of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko. Sobotka told members of the upper house, the Senate, that the two-day summit starting Thursday should in its conclusions demand the imprisoned pilot’s release. She is on trial by Russian authorities for allegedly directing artillery fire in the conflict in Ukraine which led to the deaths of two Russian journalists and could face a jail sentence of 23 years. The Senate passed a motion Wednesday calling for her release, saying that her detention was in conflict with the Minsk accords establishing a ceasefire in the conflict.