Daily news summary


Leaked EC report says Czech PM faces conflict of interest

According to a confidential European Commission legal opinion cited by The Guardian, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš faces a conflict of interest over European Union funds paid to his company.

The leaked report, seen by The Guardian, concludes that Babiš is in a situation that “qualifies as a conflict of interest”, because public officials and politicians should not benefit from EU funds they ultimately control. The taxpayers of the Czech Republic thus face being asked to repay at least some of the €82m paid to the conglomerate Agrofert in 2018, legal experts say.

The European Commission was asked to investigate the matter after Transparency Czech Republic said it had evidence that although Babiš put Agrofert in a trust fund, he remains the beneficial owner, in breach of Czech and EU law.

Prime Minister Babiš dismissed the report as yet another slander campaign against him. He said that according to his lawyers he had not breached any laws.

Pirate Party: Czech authorities should look into PM‘s alleged conflict of interest

The head of the Pirate Party Ivan Bartoš will ask the Czech authorities to look into the prime minister’s alleged conflict of interest.

Bartoš said that in view of the fact that it was an ongoing problem it was vital to minimize the damage for Czech taxpayers. He said the issue had been underestimated by the Czech authorities.

Tributes and condolences on death of George Bush

Tributes and condolences on the death of George Bush, the 41st president of the United States, are pouring in from Czech politicians. The former US leader is being remembered as a great statesman and a man who helped usher in a new era in trans-Atlantic relations after the fall of communism.

Deputy Prime Minister Jan Hamáček highlighted George Bush’s personal courage, his service to his country and his contribution to the end of the Cold War.

Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček recalled George Bush’s visit to Czechoslovakia in 1990, when he brought Czechs and Slovaks the Bell of Liberty ringing it three times to a crown of thousands “for your courage, for your freedom and for your children.”

Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Old Town Square

Thousands of people gathered on Prague’s Old Town Square on Saturday afternoon for the traditional Christmas tree lighting ceremony, marking the start of Advent and the opening of the city’s biggest Christmas market.

The ceremonial lighting of the 22-metre tall spruce felled in Rynoltice, north of Prague, was enhanced by music from popular Czech fairy-tales and the decorations on it were also inspired by children’s stories.

The Christmas market traditionally offers visitors close to 100 stalls and a rich cultural program.

Jose Carreras to perform in Prague in April

The legendary Spanish tenor José Carreras, who is famous for his unique interpretation of the works of Verdi and Puccini, will perform a concert at Prague’s O2 Arena on April 5, 2019. He will be accompanied by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Giménez.

Carreras has performed in Prague on several occasions. In 2014 he gave a charity concert in the Czech capital together with violinist Vanessa-Mae and Irish soprano Celine Byrne.

Czech lorry driver found guilty of smuggling weapons into UK

A Czech lorry driver found guilty of smuggling weapons into the UK has been jailed for eight years, the BBC reported.

The National Crime Agency said 10 Heckler and Koch P2000 pistols and 250 rounds of ammunition were found in David Abeles' lorry on 1 September. The weapons were fully functional.

The 46-year-old Czech national had just arrived in the port of Killingholme on a transport ship from the Netherlands. In court he admitted to possessing firearms and ammunition.

Weather forecast

Sunday should be overcast with rain or snow showers and day temperatures between 3 and 8 degrees Celsius in the western parts of the country. Moravia should see temperatures between -2 and 2 degrees.