The four most senior officials under the constitution have issued a joint statement saying that the fact some Czech politicians met the Dalai Lama is not an expression of a change in the country’s official policy. President Miloš Zeman, Senate chairman Milan Štěch, lower house speaker Jan Hamáček and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that relations between the Czech Republic and China in recent years had been very beneficial and useful and that it was in the country’s interest to continue to develop such relations intensively. Culture Minister Daniel Herman, from the smallest coalition party the Christian Democrats, received the Tibetan spiritual leader on Tuesday morning.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has cast doubt on the need for the Senate. Speaking in an interview for Czech Television, Mr. Zeman said that though the upper house was a safeguard of democracy, it was all the same to Czechs whether it existed or not; if they did value it there would be a higher turnout for Senate elections, he said. The weekend’s second round of voting to one third of seats in the chamber saw record low turnout of 15.4 percent. Mr. Zeman’s comments came after ANO chief Andrej Babiš suggested that the Senate could be abolished following a poor electoral showing for his party.
The number of state employees in this country has grown by around 23,000 since 2012, according to data released by the Ministry of Finance. Nearly 440,000 people are now employed by the state in the Czech Republic, which has a population of 10.5 million. Annual salaries for such workers have increased by CZK 16.6 billion in the last four years to reach CZK 149 billion. The average state employee receives CZK 27,000 a month.
The Prague-born tennis legend Martina Navrátilová is today celebrating her 60th birthday. Navrátilová, who received political asylum in the United States at the age of 18 and became a US citizen in 1981, won 18 Grand Slam titles in a glittering career. She holds the records for the most singles and doubles titles in tennis’s open era. Navrátilová has been outspoken on a number of political issues, including lesbian and gay rights.
Czech Television is planning to make some of its internet content unavailable to those who do not pay a monthly CZK 135 license fee, Lidovky.cz reported on Tuesday. The news site said that increasing numbers of people were watching Czech Television on the internet but refusing to pay the licence fee on the grounds that they don’t possess a TV set. The station has almost 4,000 days of content available on its website and had 200 million views last year.
Prague’s Supreme Court has set aside the verdict in a corruption case surrounding former politician David Rath and sent the matter back to the city’s Regional Court to be heard again. A Supreme Court spokesperson said on Tuesday that as a written resolution on the verdict had not yet been drawn up, it was not possible to give the reasons for the judges’ decision. Mr. Rath, a former minister and regional governor, was last year found guilty of bribe-taking and sentenced to 8.5 years in prison and the forfeiture of CZK 20 million in property.
Part of the roof of the Lucerna Palace in central Prague is to be opened to the public from Wednesday for three days. Around 1,000 square metres of terraces at Lucerna will in future be gradually repaired and made accessible on a longer term basis, organisers said. The space will be open from Wednesday to Friday from noon to 18:00 and will feature a market selling produce from the farm of the building’s owner Dagmar Havlová, sister-in-law of the late president Václav Havel. The project has been initiated by café owner and civic activist Ondřej Kobza.
The Czech minister of culture, Daniel Herman, received the Dalai Lama in Prague on Tuesday morning. The meeting took place at the Ministry of Culture and was also attended by other members of Mr. Herman’s party, the Christian Democrats. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka described the gathering as the private initiative of a cabinet member. No representatives of Mr. Sobotka’s Social Democrats or the other coalition party ANO met the Tibetan spiritual leader. Earlier this year Chinese diplomats protested against the visit of the Dalai Lama, who is in Prague to speak at the Forum 2000 conference; the annual event was started by his late friend Václav Havel.
Legendary British band Depeche Mode have announced the first leg of a new world tour called Global Spirit 2017, promoting their 14th album. The band will perform in Prague Eden Arena on May 24, 2017. Tickets for the general public go on sale on October 21, two days later than tickets for those with Live Nation club memberships.