Daily news summary
White House confirms Czech PM’s meeting with Donald Trump
The White House has officially confirmed the visit of Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš to Washington. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania will receive Mr Babiš in the White House on March 7.
The invitation came on the first day of a visit to Washington by Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček, who is due to discuss bilateral and global issues with the U.S. secretaries of state and defence, and President Trump’s national security advisor.
Cybersecurity issues – not least concerning those the Trump Administration says are presented by using products of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and allowing implementing 5G infrastructure – are high on the Czech agenda.
Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček launches official visit to the U.S.
Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tomáš Petříček, launches his official visit to the United States on Thursday, when he is due to meet with the National Security advisor to Donald Trump John Bolton and USAID chief Mark Green.
On Friday, Mr Petříček is scheduled to meet with his American counterpart, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo. The Czech prime minister’s meeting with President Trump at the White House in March will be high on their agenda.
According to the Czech Foreign Ministry, the visit aims to support strengthening bilateral relations and to follow up on last year’s visit of then-Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Defence Secretary James Mattis and Energy Secretary Rick Perry in Prague.
Government Commissioner for Human Rights steps down
Government Commissioner for Human Rights Martina Štěpánková will step down from her post at the end of March, Czech Radio reported on Thursday. The information was confirmed by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who said the government will announced an open competition for the post.
Mrs Štěpánková was appointed to the reinstated post of Human Rights Commissioner in June 2018. She will also step down as deputy in charge of managing the Human Rights Section at the Office of the Government.
The Prime Minister said he himself would remain in charge of the Government Council for Human Rights, which has recently come under criticism for lack of action.
One third of Czech Republic facing serious drought
Around one third of the Czech Republic has very low or extremely low levels of underground waters, Environment Minister Richard Brabec said on Thursday at a discussion organised by the Institute for Politics and Society.
The situation is particularly bad in central Moravia and Polabí in Central Bohemia. In many places, water towers have to be filled from water tanks.
Mr Brabec said this year’s abundance of snow had no effect on the current drought which has been affecting the Czech Republic for five consecutive years.
Křetínský’s CMI sells Polish radio group Eurozet, angering PiS party over alleged Soros link
Billionaire Daniel Křetínský’s Czech Media Invest (CMI) has sold the Polish radio station group Eurozet it bought last year from French concern Lagardère in a move that has angered Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.
PiS called the sale of Eurozet a threat to the pluralism of Polish media amid reports that one of the buyers, the Czech company SFS Ventures, is linked to or funded by Hungarian-born billionaire George Soros, who supports Polish opposition media.
SFS Ventures bought a 60 percent share. Polish media group Agora, whose assets include the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, bought the remaining 40 percent share in Eurozet. The majority owner of SFS Ventures is Sourcefabric Ventures, a leading developer of open source tools for news media.
Czech cinematographers hand out annual awards
The Czech Cinematographers’ Association handed out their annual awards in Prague on Wednesday evening. The prize for Best Camera in feature film went to Tomáš Sysel for the movie Toman, while Marek Dvořák won the award for Best Camera in TV film for the film Dukla 61. Miroslav Fojtík, who shot hundreds of reports and live recordings for Czechoslovak television, was recognised for his life-time contribution to cinematography.
Friday is expected to be mostly overcast with occasional rain and snow showers. Daytime highs will range between 4 and 9 degrees Celsius.