The head of president Miloš Zeman’s foreign affairs office, Hynek Kmoníček, has been confirmed as the next Czech ambassador to the United States. The spokesman for the president announced confirmation of the appointment on Wednesday. Kmoníček has previously said that a new Czech ambassador should be in place in Washington to prepare the way for Zeman’s planned trip to see US president Donald Trump in April. Kmoníček will remain an advisor to the head of state on foreign affairs.
An out of court settlement has drawn a line under a dispute between the supplier of horse fodder and the winning owner, jockey, and trainer of the Czech Republic’s main steeplechase event. The settlement was approved Wednesday by a court in Přerov. The dispute dates back to 2015 when the winner of Pardubice steeplechase, the horse Nikas, was later disqualified after banned substances were found in tests. The owner, trainer, and jockey, lost around 2 million crowns in winnings. They maintained that the banned drugs were result of the food supplied by a company. The supplier agreed the settlement which will be shared out by the three claimants. It was the first time that the fastest finishing horse had been disqualified.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has suggested that the state will have to soon weigh up its options for action over the hard coal mining company OKD if a serious investor does not come forward. The prime minister temporarily took over as minister of industry and trade on Wednesday following the dismissal of previous incumbent Jan Mládek. Sobotka refused to elaborate on what the government’s options could be. The coalition Cabinet in mid-February refused a proposal from Mládek to buy up the mining company for one crown. OKD employs around 11,000 people with one mine, Paskov, due to close at the end of the month. The government has been seeking to close the remaining mines gradually so that environmental and social issues can be properly dealt with.
The lower house of parliament has rejected Senate proposals that would have watered down the rules for national parks and given local councils and inhabitants more room to push for development. The proposed upper house changes were backed by just 28 lawmakers with 109 opposed. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the original rules offered sustainable development for parks and increased the role of local authorities. The original version of the law backed by the lower house will now go to president Miloš Zeman. He repeated Wednesday he would veto the law.
A court has ruled that the daughter of war hero Josef Mašin should be able to inherit the family farm at Lošany outside Kolín in East Bohemia. In its ruling delivered Wednesday the court said it was clear that Josef Mašin was the rightful owner of the farm and that his daughter, Zdena, stood in line to inherit. Mašin was a member of the leading opposition group to the Nazi occupation before and during WWII. He was captured by the Nazis in May 1941 and shot on June 30 a year later at the age of 45. The court decision can still be appealed. The farm was later confiscated by the communist regime with the inheritance question complicated by the question of whether two sons, who dramatically fled to the US, also had claims.
Member of the European Parliament for the STAN party, Stanislav Polčák, has said he will not stand for any top post in the party at March’s congress. He is currently a deputy chairman of the party. Polčák’s announcement follows the revelations on Monday by Czech Radio about his connections with Zlín businessman Michal Redl. Redl is connected to the family of notorious Czech gangster Radovan Krejčíř. The party applauded his stand saying it was untypical in Czech politics.
State forestry firm Česky Lesy said that around 140,000 cubic metres of timber were damaged in the gales that hit the Czech Republic on February 24. Damaged trees represented around two percent of the annual quota of felled trees with damages estimated at around 16 million crowns. The biggest damage occurred in the Karlovy Vary region, followed by the Olomouc and Pilsen regions. The forestry company is warning people to stay away from woods in the following weeks because of the danger of trees falling.
The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), a reflection of the state of confidence in the manufacturing sector, has climbed to its highest level since April 2011. The February index rose to 57.6 points from the previous level of 55.7 points in January. The index is compiled from factors such as the level of stocks, incoming orders, and the recruitment of new workers which are deemed to reflect the state of confidence in the economy.
The Czech Entrepreneur of the Year award has gone to Petr Chmela, the co-founder and co-owner of Tescoma, a Zlín-based kitchenware company that exports to countries such as Russia and China and has a thousand outlets around the world. The title of Entrepreneur of the Year in the technology category went to Martin Trtílek. He is the owner of PSI, which produces measuring devices for research on plants, algae and cyanobacteria.