Daily news summary
Czech top officials distance themselves from Communist MP’s visit to Donetsk
Czech top officials have publicly distanced themselves from Communist Party MP Zdeňek Ondráček’s visit to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic this week. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told journalists on Thursday that the visit was not in accordance with Czech foreign policy. His statement came a day after Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček critisized Mr. Ondráček’s visit on Twitter, saying his actions were shameful and damaging to the Czech Republic.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chamber of Deputies met for a special session to debate the matter on Thurday, distancing itself from the visit and emphasizing that the Czech Republic does not recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and considers it a part of Ukraine.
Mr. Ondráček insists his trip was “private", but a video shows him being welcomed by the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in what looks like an official ceremony.
Czech foreign minister highlights importance of EU membership
There is no alternative to EU membership for the Czech Republic and the country is not looking for any alternate options, Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petřícek stressed at an international conference at Černín Palace marking 15 years of Czech membership in the EU.
Minister Petříček said there was more to EU membership than just economic interests, emphasizing that by joining the alliance the Czech Republic had joined a community of nations sharing the same democratic values.
EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová said the Czech Republic had greatly benefitted from EU membership and stressed that EU decisions were based on a broad consensus, so that no country left the negotiating table with a sense of defeat.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš called for EU reform, stressing the need to strengthen the role of individual member states.
Police president says officer in special force could be sacked for cooperating with Pirate Party
Police President Jan Švejdar has said he considers cooperation between the Pirate Party and an officer from the National Centre Against Organized Crime absolutely unacceptable.
In a statement on Twitter the police president said that if it were confirmed that Jan Šmíd, a member of this special force, had cooperated with the Pirate Party he would be sacked.
The ruling ANO Party which brought attention to the alleged close cooperation between Šmíd and the Pirate Party, expressed concern regarding possible information leaks and asked the Security Committee of the Chamber of Deputies to look into the matter.
The committee is due to meet on May 21st.
Communist Party MEP to file criminal complaint against Okamura
Communist Party deputy-chair Kateřina Konečná, who heads the party ticket in the European elections, has said she will file a criminal complaint against the head of the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party, Tomio Okamura for allegedly spreading lies in the party’s election campaign. The Communist Party’s MEP said she would provide further details at a press briefing on Friday.
Konečná recently wrote on Facebook that Okamura was lying when he told voters that the Communist Party’s MEPs had voted in favour of admitting migrants from Africa to the Czech Republic.
PM holds talks on dual-quality of food with multi-national food retailers
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with representatives of Nestlé, Unilever and other multi-national food retailers to discuss the issue of dual food quality on Thursday morning. According to the Czech News Agency, there is information that these retailers make it impossible for Czech traders to purchase better-quality food made for West European markets. Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Babiš said that this allegation was dismissed by the retailers, who stated that differences in their product composition were a consequence of the specific tastes customers have in each country.
The issue of dual-quality revolves around allegations that food companies are supplying lower quality versions of the same product for markets located in Central and Eastern Europe, as opposed to Western markets.
General Karel Řehka receives Arnošt Lustig Award
The 2019 Arnošt Lustig Award, founded in honour of the late Czech writer by the Czech-Israeli Chamber of Commerce, was presented to General Karel Řehka at a special ceremony in Prague on Thursday. General Řehka heads the NATO Multinational Division North East based in Elbląg.The award is given in recognition of exceptional courage, bravery, humanity and justice.
The general, who in the past headed the country’s special forces, said he was greatly honoured to have been selected, adding that he considered the award to be a recognition of all soldiers of his generation serving their country.
Friday should be partly cloudy to overcast with rain in places and day temperatures between 15 and 19 degrees Celsius.