The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, wants the government to discuss on Wednesday an agreement he says the cabinet made in 2014 not to meet officially with the Dalai Lama. The arts minister, Daniel Herman, recently received the Tibetan spiritual leader in Prague, sparking a row between the two ministers. Referring to that meeting, Mr. Zaorálek said on Tuesday that people would also be annoyed if somebody had met the Sudeten German leader Konrad Henlein while there was a legitimate Czechoslovak government in the interwar period. He later apologised for the Henlein reference.
The state budget surplus reached a new record of CZK 98.3 billion at the end of October, up from CZK 82.3 billion at the end of September. The result was the best for the tenth month of the year since the foundation of the Czech Republic in 1993. Officials attribute the development to improved tax collection. While a deficit of CZK 70 billion was planned for the whole of 2016, the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, said the budget would actually show a surplus for the entire year.
A book written in Terezín concentration camp by Otto Weiss, who later died at Auschwitz, is being presented at Prague’s Maisel Synagogue on Tuesday evening. Copies of the book entitled I viděl Bůh, že je to špatné (Even God saw it was bad) will be signed by the author’s painter daughter Helga Hošková-Weissová, who illustrated it in Terezín at the age of 13. Mrs. Hošková-Weissová, now aged 86, is herself the author of Helga's Diary: A Young Girl's Account of Life in a Concentration Camp.
Former ministers Michael Kocáb and Jan Kalvoda have led a call on Czech deputies and senators to examine whether President Miloš Zeman has committed gross violation of the constitution. The demand comes after Mr. Zeman, the prime minister and the chairmen of both houses of Parliament issued a declaration assuring China of continued positive relations between the two states. Mr. Kocáb and Mr. Kalvoda, who are part of a group called Kroměříž Challenge, said Mr. Zeman had not been empowered to make such a statement and that doing so contravened the principle of separation of powers. The declaration to Beijing followed a meeting between a government minister and the Dalai Lama that went against official Czech policy.
The trial of six taxi drivers accused of ripping off passengers has begun in Prague. They could face up to eight years in prison for fraud after being caught levying up to CZK 200 a kilometre when the maximum amount permitted is CZK 28. One of the drivers admitted overcharging customers but told the judges on Tuesday that in most cases they had been aware of the price before he took them to their destinations. A former official from Prague’s taxis authority is also standing trial in the case.
The Czech minister of education, Kateřina Valachová, is proposing tougher action against secondary school students who physically or verbally harass teachers or other pupils, iDnes.cz reported on Tuesday. Under a plan due to come into effect at the start of the next academic year, students should be automatically expelled for serious cases of such behaviour. The minister told the news website that there was sufficient legislation in place to deal with attacks on teachers; however, more must be done to ensure such cases come to court, she said. Ms. Valachová blamed the school management for a case this year in which a teacher in Prague died after suffering abuse from students.
Prague‘s Municipal Court has cancelled the ban on a march to be held by critics of President Miloš Zeman on the national holiday on November 17, its organiser, activist Jan Cemper confirmed on Monday. Prague City hall had banned the march arguing it would cross routes with another demonstration of the president’s supporters, claiming the real aim had been to provoke clashes. Mr Cemper denied the charge. The march is expected to circumvent other planned demonstrations. The police regularly maintain a high presence during planned events to prevent clashes by rival groups. November 17 is the Day of Struggle for Freedom and Democracy that commemorates student demonstrations during the Nazi occupation in 1939 and against the Communist regime in 1989.
The Czech Republic saw a jump in the number of new HIV cases, 244, in the first three-quarters of 2016, an increase of roughly one-third year-on-year. Last year, the country registered 185 new cases during the same period, the National Institute of Public Health confirmed. Statistics on HIV infection in Czechoslovakia began in 1985. Since then, the Czech Republic saw an overall 2,864 cases of HIV infection; in 500 instances the virus progressed to AIDS.
The executive council of the country’s largest insurance company VZP agreed on the basic parameters of its health insurance plan for 2017, the head of the insurer announced on Monday. The insurer is planning on putting 161.7 billion crowns into the health sector next year, a rise of 5.9 percent year-on-year or about nine billion crowns more than was expected this year. The VZP serves almost six million clients.