Daily news summary
PM Babiš meets with President Trump in White House
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has held talks with the American President Donald Trump in the White House. It was the first visit of a Czech prime minister since Petr Nečas met with President Barrack Obama in 2011.
The topics on the agenda included American tolls on European cars, security cooperation and the situation in Syria, where the Czech Republic is the only country to have an embassy. At the start of the meeting, Mr Babiš told the US head of state he had a plan to make the Czech Republic great again, hinting at President Trump’s first State of the Union address. He also said the two countries had been allies since the United States helped to establish Czechoslovakia 100 years ago.
President Trump praised the Czech Republic as a creative country, which was doing well economically as well as in other respects.
The White House meeting was the highlight of the Czech PM’s three day visit to the United States, which also included a meeting with CIA officials at Langley.
President signs bill extending EU rights to UK nationals in event of no-deal Brexit
President Miloš Zeman on Thursday signed into law a bill which would protect the rights of the several thousand British nationals living and working in the Czech Republic in the event that the Great Britain leaves the EU with no deal.
The bill will ensure that British nationals will be guaranteed the same treatment as all EU citizens up until the end of 2020. The areas covered by the bill include for example acquiring Czech citizenship, permanent residence and pension insurance.
Moscow to respond to Russian diplomat’s ban to enter Czechia
Moscow will respond to the decision of the Czech authorities not to allow a Russian Foreign Ministry official to enter the country, the ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
The man, who travelled to the Czech Republic as part of an official Russian delegation to participate in a meeting of the Russian-Czech intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation was refused entry to the Czech Republic "for security reasons". The incident happened on March 4.
Mrs Zakharova said that the “confrontational attack will not remain without an adequate response.”
Police raid Kapsch and other institutions over corruption allegations
Police from the country’s organised crime unit on Thursday raided the Prague headquarters of the Austrian firm Kapsch. The police also searched the office of ANO deputy chair Jaroslav Faltýnek, the headquarters of the anti-trust office in Brno and several dozen other institutions around the country.
According to the website Novinky.cz, police suspect Kapsch’s CEO Karel Feix and the head of the anti-trust office Petr Rafaj of corruption. They are suspected of having tried to influence a contract to operate the electronic toll collection system in the Czech Republic, Novinky.cz reported.
The Austrian Kapsch AG, which has been operating the electronic toll collection system in the Czech Republic since 2007, is set to be replaced by the consortium SkyToll / Czechtoll this year.
Czechs remember ‘founding father’ T.G. Masaryk on 169th anniversary of his birthday
The first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was born exactly 169 years ago and Czech politicians as well as the wider public are remembering the figure through a series of ceremonies. Representatives of the government and Parliament will lay a wreath by his grave in Lány and a special relay run will take place from the statue of Masaryk in front of Prague Castle, which finishes in Lány.
The public can take part in a number of events being organised across Prague and other cities and towns across the country.
US film star Peter Fonda to make an appearance at Febiofest
US film star Peter Fonda will be among the guests at this year’s edition of Prague’s Febiofest Film Festival, organisers announced on Thursday. The actor, perhaps best-known for his role in the cult film Easy Rider, will attend the festival’s gala opening on 21 March.
The two-time Golden Globe winner will receive the Kristián award for contribution to world cinematography, as will the Danish Oscar-winning director Bille August and the popular Czech actress Jiřina Bohdalová
The festival will run in Prague from March 21 to 29, before moving to the regions.
Friday is expected to be partly overcast with daytime high ranging between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius.