The D8 motorway linking Prague and Germany in the direction of Dresden has been completed. The 16-kilometre missing link between Lovosice and Řehlovice should be opened up on Saturday and drivers will be able to use the full stretch of the motorway after 6pm that day. The final stretch of the motorway took ten years to complete due to protests by environmentalists against the chosen route through a protected landscape area and nature reserve. Work was also delayed by a major landslide in 2013 which buried part of the motorway under construction.
Friday’s negotiations between government representatives, Czech Post management and trade unions failed to resolve a dispute over salaries that could lead to a two-hour strike on Monday. Trade unions have been pushing for a wage increase for postal workers by 2,500 crowns a month which Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec, under whose administration the state owned company is, described as unrealistic. Meanwhile, Finance Minister Andrej Babis has criticized Czech Post, saying employees’ demands for higher wages are legitimate and criticizing the company for intransparent management and excessive bonuses for managers.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has called on Social Democratic Party members being investigated in connection with suspected abuse of EU funds in the North-West regional programme to resign from their posts and leave the party. Among the 24 suspects are several senior party officials including a former regional governor of the Ustí region, Jana Vanhová, and Karlovy Vary regional leader and Cheb mayor Petr Navrátil. The prime minister stressed that the case is eight years old and does not concern his government, but said the suspects should act responsibly and not damage the party’s reputation. Finance Minister and ANO leader Andrej Babis countered that Mr. Sobotka served as deputy party leader at the time and should be held accountable for the actions of party members.
The European Court of Arbitration in Strasbourg has upheld a complaint by Jerome Colloredo Mannsfeld against the Czech state in a dispute over ownership rights to the furnishings of Opocno chateau, the family’s former residence in eastern Bohemia. The case will now have to be reviewed in the Czech Republic. The Colloredo Mannsfeld family has tried to reclaim the property which was seized by the Nazis and later nationalized by the communists in a drawn out legal dispute dating back to the 1990s. Czech courts have repeatedly rejected their claim to the property on the grounds that the confiscation took place before February 1948, which is the borderline for restitution claims.
Excessive consumption of beer is a much bigger health risk than previously thought, according to a study undertaken by researchers at Brno’s Masaryk University. According to one of the authors of the study Pavel Grassgruber, excessive consumption of beer significantly contributes to Czech health problems and the fact that Czechs now top the European ladder in pancreas and kidney cancer. Czechs are the world’s leading beer drinkers with an annual consumption of 143 liter per head. Germany, known for its famous annual Oktoberfest, is in second place, with 110 liters per head.
One of the country’s last remaining war heroes, General Imrich Gablech has died at the age of 101. Gablech joined the RAF in 1941, flying with the 312 Czechoslovak Squadron. After the war he received a number of high state distinctions, among them the Order of the White Lion, and briefly served as head of air traffic control at Prague airport. Like many Czechoslovak pilots who flew with the RAF he was persecuted by the communist regime, released from the army and forced into manual labour.
Cuba has offered to repay its multi-million dollar debt to the Czech Republic with deliveries of its famous rum, the BBC news site reported on Friday. The Czech finance ministry confirmed that Havana had raised this possibility during recent negotiations on the issue. Cuba owes the Czech Republic 276 million dollars (222 million euros), a debt dating back to the Cold War era when Cuba and Czechoslovakia were part of the communist bloc. If Havana’s offer is accepted the country would have enough rum for more than a century. Cuba has also offered to repay the debt in pharmaceutical drugs but since it lacks EU certification payments in rum would be easier to arrange.
Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said that the Czech Republic along with Germany and France pushed successfully for a big step forward in moves to develop defence and security policy at the European level during the Brussels summit on Thursday. Part of the progress focused on future joint military exercises and cooperation where the organisation and financing should be simpler. Government leaders also agreed to focus more of joint defence projects and research. Separately, heads of government discussed migration, including the need to boost help to African countries; mapped out the way for an EU-Ukraine association agreement; and discussed their negotiating position over Brexit.
In ice hockey, the Czech national team ran out 2:4 losers against Finland in the Channel One Cup match on Thursday night. Trainer Josef Jandač said afterwards that he was happy with the performance for about half of the match, criticising in particular lax puk possession and the Czechs lack of effectiveness in front of goal. The Czech team face Russia in the next match on Friday night.