Daily news summary

Czech and French embassies echo Mitterrand gesture with breakfasts with human rights activists

The Czech Republic and France are holding breakfasts with human rights and democracy campaigners at their embassies around the world on Tuesday. The meetings commemorate a famous breakfast at Prague’s French Embassy on December 9, 1988, when then French president Francois Mitterrand held talks with Czechoslovak dissidents that were seen as a significant gesture of support.

The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, said the aim was to support today’s dissidents in repressive states.

Mr. Petříček attended a breakfast at the French Embassy in Prague with dissidents from Belarus, Azerbaijan, Burma, Vietnam and Cuba.

Similar events have been taking place at Czech and French embassies in Armenia, Burma, Moldova, Russia and Cuba.

European court rules against Babiš in StB files case

The European Court of Human Rights has rejected a petition taken by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš against Slovakia in a dispute centred on the files of the StB, the Communist-era secret police. Mr. Babiš says he is wrongfully listed as an agent of the StB in records held by Slovakia’s Nation’s Memory Institute, which administers such materials.

The Bratislava-born politician took legal action against the institute six years ago and Slovak courts initially found in his favour. However, the country’s Constitutional Court subsequently ruled against him and he then took the matter to Strasbourg.

Mr. Babiš said on Tuesday that he would continue to fight the allegation in Slovakia. He told reporters he would win in the end as he had never signed on to collaborate with the StB.

More British nationals filing for Czech citizenship since Brexit vote

The number of British nationals filing requests for Czech citizenship has been steadily rising since the Brexit vote, Czech Television reported.

While in 2015 the Czech Interior Ministry registered five requests for Czech citizenship from British nationals, in 2016 it had 42 such requests.

The interest is mainly from British citizens with Czech roots and British citizens residing in the Czech Republic who fear that after Brexit they would lose the right to travel and work in the EU.

The number of requests from British nationals for long-term residence in the Czech Republic has also risen by a thousand as compared to 2015.

Poll suggests ANO still most popular party with 29.5 percent backing

Government leaders ANO would have won elections around the turn of the month with 29.5 percent of the vote, suggests a new opinion poll from the Median agency. That figure is very close to what ANO received in elections in October 2017. The Civic Democrats figured second in the poll with 13.5 percent backing and the Pirate Party placed third on 13.0 percent.

The poll suggests Freedom and Direct Democracy would receive 10 percent of the vote, ahead of the Social Democrats on 7.5 percent and the Communists on 7.0 percent.

The Mayors and Independents enjoy 6.0 percent backing, compared to the Christian Democrats on 5.5 percent and TOP 09 are hovering around the 5.0 percent threshold needed to enter Parliament, the survey indicates.

Car makers set to match or outdo last year’s record output

Czech car makers expect to make over 1.4 million vehicles in 2018 and to equal or slightly surpass last year’s record output, the head of the Automotive Industry Association, Bohdan Wojnar, said on Tuesday. Manufacturers produced 1.3 million cars between January and November this year.

Mr. Wojnar said the country’s auto industry had expanded this year but the tempo of growth had slowed. He said manufacturers needed to work on a long-term vision to be able to respond to changes in electro-mobility, digitalisation and new business models.

Half Czech fathers take week’s break with assistance following birth of child

Only around half of Czech fathers have made use of the opportunity to take a one-week break with financial assistance following the birth of a child, Czech Television reported on Tuesday. The information from the country’s social welfare service is for the first three-quarters of 2018. Legislation providing for such assistance was brought in at the start of the year.

The group League of Open Men say the benefit received is not attractive for men on higher salaries or the self-employed. Such fathers were more likely to just take a week off work, a representative said.

Weather forecast

It should be overcast with the chance of snow in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with temperatures of up to 1 degree Celsius. Daytime should fall to below freezing point later in the week.