The planned renovation of the lower part of Wenceslas Square is due to begin next year, according to Prague City Hall representatives. The winning project of the architectural competition held in 2005 envisages fewer cars, more greenery, fountains, broader sidewalks and more street cafés. The cost of the phased-out renovation is estimated at 150 million crowns.
The heads of government of the Visegrad Four states are holding talks in Krynica, Poland to harmonize their stands on key issues ahead of next week’s informal EU summit in Bratislava, Slovakia. The summit, hosted by the presiding EU country Slovakia, is expected to focus on the future of the EU after Brexit. The heads of government of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia will also be debating security issues, border protection and the idea of a joint European army. Within the framework of the 26th Economic Forum in Krynica, the heads of the V4 will meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
Slávek Hrzal, founder of the annual Most Popular Czech Teacher competition Zlatý Amos, is to become the next School Ombudsman, the ctk news agency reported. Hrzal, who will take over the post from former education minister Eduard Zeman, is expected to focus primarily on problems relating to bullying. Education Minister Kateřina Valachová, who made the announcement at a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday, said she wanted the post to be less bureaucratic and for the Ombudsman to be in closer contact with teachers and students.
ANO deputy head Jaroslav Faltýnek has said that if Parliament should approve a conflict of interest law which would restrict the business activities of cabinet ministers the ANO party would file a complaint with the Constitutional Court. Mr. Faltýnek said such a legislation would violate the right to property ownership. The proposed bill would prevent people with large stakes in companies from becoming ministers, while firms more than 10-percent owned by cabinet members would not be allowed to enter public tenders. The bill is widely seen as targeting ANO leader, billionaire businessman and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš whose powerful conglomerate Agrofert involves 200 companies as well as several media outlets. Both of ANO’s coalition partners –the Social Democrats and Christian Democrats – say they will support the bill, which has caused friction in the ruling coalition.
ANO leader Andrej Babiš visited the site of the former Roma concentration camp at Lety on Tuesday morning accompanied by Culture Minister Daniel Herman and Justice Minister Robert Pelikán. He bowed to the memory of Roma Holocaust victims, hundreds of whom died in the camp in inhumane conditions and once again stressed that he had not meant to deny the Holocaust in comments made last week. Mr. Babiš has come under fire from all sides after saying that the Lety camp had served as a labour camp for Romanies who did not want to work. Although it was originally established as a work camp after 1942 it served as a concentration camp where over 1,300 Romanies were interned. Over 300 of them died and 500 were transported to Auschwitz.Later in the day Mr. Babiš apologized for his words in the lower house of Parliament where he faced fresh criticism over the incident.
The Supreme Administrative Court has issued a ruling that could close the busy south-western section of the Prague ring road and affect other roads that have not yet received final building approval, Czech Radio reported on Tuesday. The court upheld a complaint from locals who protested against the length of the trial operation on the south-western section of the Prague ring road, with appropriate noise barriers still not in place, ruling that a trial operation longer than three years was excessive. The south-western section of the Prague ring road went into operation in 2010 and still lacks final building approval due to a number of serious technical defects. The Road Management Authority is currently reviewing the impact of the ruling on this and other roads.
The lower house of Parliament is due to debate a reworked anti-smoking bill which it rejected in May of this year. If approved, the bill would introduce a broad ban on smoking in bars and restaurants, but would not, as originally proposed, apply to electronic cigarettes or hookahs. The proposed amendment, the toughest ever put forward in a country which has been exceptionally benevolent to smokers, has evoked a storm of controversy in the lower house. The bill was rejected in the spring following a heated argument over whether restaurants should have special rooms for smokers, service-free, to protect restaurant personnel from second-hand smoke. Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček said on Tuesday he believed the proposed legislation would eventually win approval, but predicted it would take months rather than weeks.
The National Centre for Organized Crime has started investigating the work relationship between lobbyist Jana Mrencová and the administration of the South Moravian region. It earlier emerged that Mrencová worked for the region’s governor Michal Hašek, producing PR materials under a false name. According to the news site idnes firms who had links to Mrencová were reportedly paid 3.7 million crowns for their services. Mrencová herself got paid 400,000 crowns annually to write laudatory articles about the governor on the news site Parlamentilisty.cz. The lobbyist, who also wrote press reports for the Communist Party under a false name, was found guilty of attempting to bribe journalists.
The Office of the President has rejected criticism of President Miloš Zeman by UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Al Hussein. Addressing a conference in The Hague on Monday the commissioner spoke out against what he called the ‘bonding of demagogues” worldwide. He called for the world to reject populists such as Geert Wilders, Donald Trump, Viktor Orban, Madame Le Pen and Miloš Zeman saying that what they had in common, they also had in common with Daesh - creating the illusion of a pure world inhabited by people of one ethnicity or religion. Europe’s past, as we all know, was for centuries anything but that, the commissioner said. President Zeman’s spokesman responded to the attack by saying that the Czech president would continue to defend the Czech Republic against the threat of terrorism which is linked to the migrant crisis.
In football, Slavia Prague have announced the somewhat surprising appointment of Jaroslav Šilhavý as its new manager. Šilhavý has only been the manager of Dukla Prague since May. He is best known for his managerial stint at Slovan Liberec where the club won the Czech league title. Slavia sacked previous manager Dušan Uhrin junior after a disappointing start to the season.