Daily news summary
PM Babiš rules out withdrawal of Czech troops from Afghanistan
Prime Minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babiš has ruled out the withdrawal of Czech soldiers from Afghanistan. Speaking at a security conference in Prague, Mr Babiš said that the Czech Republic won’t fail its allies and will continue fulfil its obligations. His words came in reaction to criticism of Czech participation in the Afghani mission from some Czech parties following the death of several Czech soldiers in the past few months.
Mr Babiš also said the country had committed to increase defence spending with a view to reach the equivalent of two percent of gross domestic product by the year 2024.
The fifth edition of the annual conference, called ‘Our security cannot be taken for granted,’ takes place at Prague Castle on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. It is attended by top army and Defence Ministry representatives.
MPs support forming new National Sports Agency
MPs have given their initial backing to a proposal to establish a National Sports Agency that, among other things, would take over responsibility for distributing state subsidies in this area from the Ministry of Education.
Following a three-hour debate in a first reading on Wednesday, the Chamber of Deputies moved to establish the agency as part of a broader overhaul of state support for sport.
According to a survey of the Czech Union of Sports, which backs the proposal, most of the nearly 7,500 clubs lack money for hiring qualified trainers and children’s activities and believe a new system for allocating subsidies is needed.
MPs reject lifting Communist colleague’s immunity to face defamation charge
The Chamber of Deputies voted on Wednesday not to lift the parliamentary immunity of Communist MP Zdeněk Ondráček so that police could pursue defamation charges against him, lodged by former Presidential candidate Michal Horáček.
Horáček filed the charges in response to claims Ondráček made during the presidential campaign that he had collaborated with the Communist-era secret police (StB) and worked as an illegal moneychanger.
According to Ondráček, documents show that the StB had given Horáček the codename of “Sázkař”, which translates into English as “bookmaker” or “punter”.
Czech National Symphony orchestra marks 25th anniversary
The Czech National Symphony Orchestra will mark its 25th anniversary with a concert at Prague’s Municipal House on Thursday. The ensemble, led by Libor Pešek, Marcello Rota and Vince Mendoza, will perform works by Ludwig van Beethoven, Maurice Ravel and Duke Ellington.
Established in 1993 by trumpeter Jan Hasenöhrl and conductor Zdeněk Košler, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra has become one of the most sought after orchestras in Europe.
In 2015, they recorded a soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s Western The Hateful Eight, composed by Ennio Morricone, which won a Golden Globe, Bafta and Oscar. They also accompanied Morricone on several of his tours.
Christmas tree for Prague selected
This year’s Christmas tree for Prague will come from the village of Rynoltice near Liberec in the north of the Czech Republic. The 23-metre spruce was selected by experts from some thirty trees, suggested by the public.
The tree will be raised on Prague’s Old Town Square on December 1, marking the launch of the city’s Christmas markets.
Friday is expected to be mostly overcast with occasional rain showers and daytime highs ranging between 9 and 13 degrees Celsius.