Daily news summary


Visegrad Four remains opposed to Timmermans as EU talks continue

The Visegrad Four states comprising the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary still oppose Frans Timmermans as the next European Commission president, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told reporters ahead of a third day of EU talks in Brussels on Tuesday.

Babiš repeated the reservations of the V4 states with regard to Timmermans, citing his stand on migration, and saying that his election would only result in deepening divisions in the EU.

The V4 states did not propose their own candidate but said they would favour someone who understands the specifics of the Visegrad region.

EU leaders went back to the negotiating table close to midday on Tuesday after an 18-hour marathon the previous day failed to break the deadlock in talks.

Top-level talks on government crisis rescheduled

A meeting between Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček and President Miloš Zeman to try to resolve a dispute that could bring down the government has had to be rescheduled due to the protracted EU summit. According to the Office of the President, the meeting which was originally scheduled for Tuesday evening is likely to take place on Thursday.

Jan Hamáček, leader of the Social Democrats, has threatened to walk out of the ruling coalition unless the president complies with his party’s request to remove Antonín Staněk from the post of culture minister and replace him with the party’s nominee Michael Šmarda.

The president has so far refused to do so, despite the fact that the prime minister officially requested the culture minister’s dismissal a month ago. According to the Czech Constitution the president is bound to comply with the prime minister’s request.

Prime Minister Babiš said on Tuesday he would seek to reach a compromise in the dispute in order to preserve the ruling coalition. Unlike the Social Democrats he is against taking legal action against the president.

Czech and Russian aviation authorities working to resolve air dispute

The Czech aviation authorities have revoked an earlier decision to withdraw flight permits to the Czech Republic for at least three Russian airline companies including the flagship carrier Aeroflot.

The decision, which resulted in the cancellation of several flights from Moscow and Yekaterinburg to Prague and Karlovy Vary was reportedly made in retaliation for Russia’s decision to severely limit the number of Czech flights over Siberia, affecting regular flights between Prague and Seoul.

The Czech Transport Ministry said on Tuesday that all flight permits would remain valid until the end of this week by when the two sides hope to resolve the route dispute.

Czech scientific satellite to be launched into space

A scientific satellite developed by researchers from the Czech Technical University in Prague will be launched into space on Friday.

The satellite, named Lucky –7, will be on board a Russian Soyuz rocket, launched from the Vostochny Cosmodrome.

The satellite should enable verification of the latest scientific knowledge on the construction of electronic systems and the radio communication of space probes for space exploration.

It was developed as a private project, without state support.

Art historians petition Prague mayor against installing Marian Column replica

A group of 26 art historians opposed to installing a replica of the Marian Column in Prague's Old Town Square have written to the mayor to make their case.

They argue that the 17th century Baroque monument, demolished in 1918, was an expression of Habsburg anti-Reformation propaganda, and therefore cannot contribute to reconciliation between the Churches.

In their letter to Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates), published on the Institute of Art History website, they further argue there is insufficient evidence to restore the Marian Column to its historical form.

The Prague City Council has twice voted against installing a replica.

Heavy thunderstorms, hail leave 66,000 Czech homes without power

Severe storms left 66,000 homes in the Czech Republic at least temporarily without power on Monday evening. The regions reporting the most outages were Zlín and South Bohemia.

As of Tuesday morning, 33 high voltage faults and nearly 180 low voltage faults were yet to be repaired throughout the country.

Thunderstorms in the regions of Olomouc and Vysočina were accompanied by hail. Meteorologists said the largest hailstones, measuring some seven centimetres in diameter, fell outside Dobříš, Central Bohemia.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should bring clear skies around most of the country and day temperatures between 21 and 25 degrees Celsius.