President Zeman has announced his decision to run for a second five-year term in office. The president delivered the news to a gathering of his supporters held at Prague Castle, marking the anniversary of his inauguration. On Friday Mr. Zeman will give a briefing for the press. Miloš Zeman was elected in early 2013. His five-year term will expire in March 2018. His rivals for the post so far are lyricist Michal Horáček, businessman Igor Sladek and physician and civic activist Marek Hilšer. Political parties have yet to decide on whether to nominate a candidate of their own. Observers say the 72-year-old Zeman will be a hot favourite in the race.
The Czech Republic has welcomed the re-election of Donald Tusk European Council president. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who supported his bid for re-election said Prague appreciated the fact that Mr. Tusk had worked well with the Czech Republic and had a good understanding of the problems and priorities of the Central European region. The Czech leader nonetheless noted that Prague’s support for Donald Tusk –in the face of Polish opposition -should not be interpreted as a rift within the Visegrad Four group. As regards the migrant crisis Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka dismissed the idea of cutting European funds to member states that refuse to accept migrant quotas. Along with a number of Central and Eastern European countries, the Czech Republic has been reluctant to join the programme relocating some 120,000 asylum seekers from Italy and Greece. From its quota of 2691 persons, the Czech Republic has only accepted 12.
The Senate on Thursday approved an amendment to the copyright act which puts a ceiling on growth in copyright fees. Despite intense pressure from OSA, a Czech copyrights holders association, the Senate made no changes to the proposed amendment which will only allow copyright fees to grow in accordance with inflation. OSA had pushed for a 50 percent increase in copyright on music.
Czech consumer price inflation accelerated to 2.5 percent in February, up from 2.2 in January, coming in above market projections and the Czech National Bank’s target rate of 2 percent, the Czech Statistics Office reported. The 2.5 percent year-on-year growth in consumer prices registered in February was reportedly driven by growth in the price of fuel and food products. Economists see this as a sign that the end of forex interventions may not be far off. The forex interventions were launched in November 2013 as an instrument for maintaining monetary stability. Their aim was to keep the crown's rate below 27 crowns to the euro. According to an earlier statement by National Bank Governor Jiří Rusnok the forex interventions could end in mid-2017.
Public trust in the media has taken a dive, Czech Radio reported citing a study conducted by researchers at Masaryk University in Brno. Presently only a third of Czechs trust newspapers and magazines and 37 percent of respondents trust television stations to deliver objective information. Trust in radio station is currently highest, at 45 percent. The trust rating dropped most radically in the 18 to 29 age bracket where the majority of respondent expressed distrust criticizing the media for tabloid reporting and bias. Thirteen years ago only 18 percent of young people said they did not trust the media.
Czech defence expenditures are expected to dominate talks between Czech President Miloš Zeman and the new US administration, the Czech ambassador-designate to the United States Hynek Kmoníček told the CTK news agency. President Zeman will be meeting with President Trump during a state visit to the US at the end of April. Mr. Kmoníček, who is president’s chief foreign policy advisor, said that the presence of the Czech finance and interior ministers in the delegation reflected the main topics on the agenda – defence expenditures and the migrant crisis. The Czech Republic annually invests just over 1 percent of the GDP into defence, still well below the 2 percent target set by NATO.
A concert in Prague’s Klementinum concert hall on Thursday night will mark the 40th anniversary of the death of Jan Patočka, a philosopher and one of the first spokesmen for Charter 77 protest movement. Speaking at the event will be Petr Pithart, a former dissident and former prime minister. Jan Patočka died of a heart attack in March 13, 1977, after lengthy interrogations by the StB secret police, at the age of 69.
Czech Finance Minister and leader of the ANO party, Andrej Babiš, continues to top the ladder of most trusted politicians, according to a poll conducted by the CVVM agency in February. Mr Babiš enjoys the trust of 46 percent of those polled, down by 3 percent since last October. The ANO chief is followed by Tomio Okamura, the head of Freedom and Direct Democracy, which opposes immigration and highlights the threat of Islam; he received 35 percent, six percent more than in September 2016. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka placed third with a 34 percent trust rating.
The head of military intelligence, Jan Beroun, has strongly denied speculations about his agents surveilling the house of Interior Minister Milan Chovanec. He told the Czech television that he was ready to prove it in front of the Chamber of Deputies’ Permanent Control Committee on Military Intelligence. The news website SeznamZpravy.cz reported on Wednesday that a military intelligence officer was arrested while taking photographs in the vicinity of a villa belonging to the Ministry of the Interior in Prague last week, The building in the Dejvice district is used by the Social Democrat Interior Minister Milan Chovanec. The minister of the defence, Martin Stropnický of ANO, described speculation as absurd.