Daily news summary
Czech President invites Venezuelan interim president Juan Guaidó to visit
President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday invited the self-proclaimed interim president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, to visit the Czech Republic, and congratulated the National Assembly leader on assuming the provisional office.
The gesture, announced by the president’s spokesman, came two days after the Czech government recognized Mr Guaidó as the legitimate leader of the South American country until free and transparent elections are called.
President Zeman noting that this year is the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and collapse of the communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia, said in the invitation, “I hope that your transition to democracy will succeed”.
Mr Guaidó took the presidential oath on January 23 after the National Assembly failed to recognize the second term of incumbent Nicolás Madura, who won re-election last year in a vote that international observers said was clearly rigged.
Czech PM attends V4 meeting with Angela Merkel
The European Union and the United Kingdom must do their utmost to negotiate an agreement on Brexit, Angela Merkel said during a meeting with prime ministers of the Visegrad Four countries in Bratislava on Thursday. The German Chancellor believes that both parties would benefit from an orderly exit of the United Kingdom.
Angela Merkel and the leaders of the V4 countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, also discussed the EU budget for the period from 2021 to 2027 and the upcoming elections to the European Parliament.
Babiš slams Deutsche Welle report about Agrofert
Czech Prime Minister Andre Babiš has slammed a report by Deutsche Welle, which said foreign workers employed in a company linked to Mr Babiš work in very poor conditions. The report, which was published on Tuesday, also said the foreign workers arrived in the Czech Republic in terrible circumstances. The ANO party leader said the article was fabricated and full of lies.
The author of the report cited a Vietnamese, who used to work in the poultry factory Vodňanská drůbež in Mirovice, about 80 kilometres southwest of Prague, which belongs to the Agrofert Holding, founded by Andrej Babiš.
Mr Babiš turned Agrofert into trust funds in 2017 in order to comply with the conflict of interest law, but his critics say he is still in control since the trusts are managed by his family members and lawyers
Investigative journalists Jaroslav Kmenta, Ondřej Kundra awarded Peroutka prize
Investigative reporters Ondřej Kundra and Jaroslav Kmenta have each been awarded the prestigious Ferdinand Peroutka Prize for their work in uncovering corruption among politicians and businesses.
The Ferdinand Peroutka Prize, launched in 1995, is named after one of the most prominent Czech journalists of the 20th century. It honours those who show great integrity in work.
Both the recipients work for weekly magazines: Kundra, for Respekt, and Kmenta for Reportér.
Czech hotels report record number of tourists in 2018
Czech hotels and other accommodation facilities saw a record number of tourists in 2018. According to the data released by the Czech Statistical Office on Thursday, the overall number of tourists accommodated in Czech hotels, bed and breakfasts and camps reached 21.3 million, which is an increase of 6.4 percent on the previous year.
The number of overnight stays in the Czech Republic increased as well, reaching over 55 million. Over 10.6 million foreign tourists visited the country last year. The biggest number came from Germany, followed by visitors from Slovakia, Poland and China.
Prague conference on digitalization gets underway
A two-day conference on digitalization got underway on Thursday in the Czernin Palace, the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focusing on topics related to modern technologies and their impact on society and economy.
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the Czech Republic must rise to the level of other EU countries in the areas of research, innovation and digital education. He also said the country must provide optimal conditions for researchers and scientists to prevent their outflow.
At the end of last year, his government adopted a program called Digital Czechia, promoting digitization of state administration.
Friday will be mostly overcast with occasional rain and snow showers and daytime highs ranging between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.