Daily news summary
PM Babiš says Czechia aims to be innovation leader in UN speech
The Czech Republic wants to become a leader in innovation and artificial intelligence, and a country that would set example for others, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said in his address to the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, New York time. Mr Babiš said that the Czech Republic was fulfilling the commitments stemming from the 2015 Paris climate agreement, adding that the changes had to be gradual in order not to harm the country’s economic growth.
In his speech, Mr Babiš called for a strong European Union, which he described as the most successful peaceful project in the world. He said, however, that he had reservations about its engagement in the world.
Mr Babiš also criticised the speech of the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, calling it aggressive and hysterical.
Zeman is trying to create a presidential system, says author of constitutional complaint
Czech President Miloš Zeman is trying to establish a presidential or semi-presidential system, Senator Václav Láska said in the Chamber of Deputies on Thursday. Mr. Láska, who is the author of a constitutional complaint currently being discussed in the lower house, said that Mr. Zeman is intent on making the government responsible to him rather than the Chamber of Deputies and that it is this motive that connects all of the points raised against his behaviour in the complaint.
The complaint narrowly passed through the Senate in July, but is unlikely to get through the lower house where it needs 120 votes out of 200 to pass. The two rulling parties, ANO and the Social Democrats, as well as the Communists and the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, have said that they will not support the complaint.
HN: National Cyber and Information Security Agency lacks funding and sufficent workforce
The National Cyber and Information Security Agency is underfunded and is therefore unable to recruit enough security experts to handle its workload, the daily Hospodářské Noviny reported on Thursday. The paper cited the head of the organisation Dušan Navrátil as saying it was not even able to compete with the municipal police with its salaries. Mr. Navrátil also said that the largest problem the cyber watchdog is currently facing is outdated computer systems. However, according to Finance Minister Alena Schillerová, the agency has not spent over CZK 100 million allocated to it since its creation in 2017.
The news comes a day after the National Cyber and Information Security Agency published a report in which it said that 90 percent of cyber-attacks in 2018 come from outside the country and that most threat actors are linked to Russia and China.
Culture Minister reverses predecessor’s decision on National Gallery director
Culture Minister Lubomír Zaorálek has fired Ivan Morávek from the position of acting director of the National Gallery in Prague. Anne-Marie Nedoma has been named temporary head of the gallery until a new selection procedure takes place. The minister told journalists on Thursday that he has also created an expert council, which will work on preparing the selection procedure and name the commission that chooses the new director of the gallery.
Ivan Morávek was chosen to lead the gallery by the controversial previous minister Antonín Staněk earlier this year after Jiří Fajt was fired in what some saw as a politically motivated move.
Anne-Marie Nedoma, will start her new appointment on Friday. For the past year and a half she has worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Court rejects MPs’ proposal to overturn Energy Regulatory Authority’s pricing decision
The Constitutional Court rejected a proposal to annul two of last year's pricing decisions made by the Czech Energy Regulatory Authority, citing a lack of valid arguments. The proposal was signed by 26 MPs from the Freedom and Direct Democracy party, the Communist Party and one Social Democrat. They argued that the agency breached the Energy Act, according to which it has to protect the legitimate interests of customers and consumers, by increasing prices for no reason.
According to the ruling there was an absence of almost any argumentation that could lead the Court to rule that prices should be changed.
Prague’s new multifunctional hall O2 Universum to open on Thursday
O2 Universum, a major new multifunctional hall is set to open for the first time this Thursday in Prague, with a concert by the popular Czech rock band Kabát. The 50,000 square meter complex neighbours the 02 Arena, Prague’s biggest venue of its kind. The O2 Universum contains a number of halls, the largest of which has a capacity of 4,500. Its facilities will be used to host conferences, concerts and sporting events.
The facility is owned and run by Bestsport, a company which is part of PPF, the financial and investment group owned by billionaire Petr Kellner.
Americans make up majority of study abroad students in Czech Republic
According to data from the Centre for International Cooperation in Education, America far exceeds any other country in the number of students that come to the Czech Republic for study stays. The statistics were analysed by Czech Radio’s data journalism team, which published its findings on Thursday.
Last year’s data shows that Americans made up more than 16 percent of all study abroad students in the country, with France trailing behind at 8.4 percent. The total number of such students in the Czech Republic lies at 16,000. Meanwhile, there are more than 44,000 foreigners studying for a degree at Czech universities, the vast majority of them Slovak.
According to data from 2016–2017, the Czech Republic was the 13th most popular study abroad destination for US students.
Most of the country's northern and central regions are expected be hit by showers on Friday. Meanwhile the skies above Prague and the southern regions are likely to be cloudy. Temperatures will reach up to 23 degrees Celsius in the south, particularly around České Budějovice. In the north, temperatures could dip as low as 17 degrees.