Daily news summary

Andrej Babiš ‘stands behind’ ally Viktor Orban over EU sanctions

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (Ano) said Thursday that the European Parliament was wrong to try to sanction Hungary and his government “stands behind” Viktor Orban, whom he called an “ally”.

Mr Babiš also said he would take up the issue with Ano party members who voted in favour of launching the so-called Article 7 process against Hungary.

It total 448 MEPs, including 21 Czechs, voted in favour of triggering the sanctions procedure over Orban’s challenge to EU rules and values on media freedom, migration and rule of law dating back several years. Four MEPs elected on the Ano ticket voted for the sanctions – Pavel Telička and Petr Ježek, who are no longer in the party; and Dita Chrazanová and Martina Dlabajová.

Mr Babiš told journalists the move only served to divide Europe and that MEPs should be focusing on issues such as Brexit.

Acting foreign minister understands Czech MEPs who voted for procedure against Hungary

Acting Czech Foreign Minister and Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček has defended the right of Czech MEPs to vote in line with their conscience in the European Parliament vote on whether to launch a procedure against Hungary on Wednesday.

Hamáček said that he too was concerned by some of the steps taken by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, such as those against the judiciary and the free press.

He said that unlike the Czech prime minister he would not take up the issue with those MEPs who had voted in favour of launching a procedure against Hungary since he understood their line of reasoning.

Czech police investigating Slovak Islamist over alleged planned bomb attack

Czech police are preparing a case against a suspected Islamist alleged to have planned a bomb attack, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Friday.

The suspect, a Slovak convert to Islam who has visited Czech mosques, was arrested in November following a search of his residence that yielded instructions for making bombs and launching chemical attacks.

The initial complaint against the suspect, Dominik K, who went by the alias Abdul Rehman, was rejected by the Prague City Court and Constitutional Court, which found there had not been enough evidence to launch a prosecution.

Interior minister says foreigners who repeatedly commit crimes should be extradited faster

Interior Minister Jan Hamáček has said he would push for an amendment to the foreigners’ law which would enable the authorities to extradite foreigners who had repeatedly committed crimes in the country faster.

The interior minister said in the lower house of Parliament on Friday that this should be made possible within a maximum period of six months, while at present it was taking the authorities two or more years.

In the course of 2016 and 2017 there were around four hundred such cases, he said. This should concern foreigners who have been convicted of crimes three or more times.

President Zeman to visit Germany

Czech President Milos Zeman is to pay an official three-day visit to Germany next week. Mr. Zeman will arrive in Berlin on Wednesday afternoon but his talks with the country’s leaders are scheduled for Friday.

He will be received with military honours by his German counterpart President Frank Walter Steinmeier on Friday morning and then meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday afternoon. The talks are expected to focus on a wide range of issues including bilateral cooperation, EU reform, the migrant crisis or relations with Russia.

The president will also meet with representatives of German companies doing business in the Czech Republic.

Šimandl takes over as head of country’s civilian intelligence

IT expert Marek Šimandl officially took up his post at the head of the country’s civilian intelligence agency on Friday.

Interior Minister Jan Hamáček said he was convinced that Šimandl was the right man for the job, who would stabilize the service and secure a high level of performance in the best interests of the Czech Republic.

Šimandl previously served as deputy head of the National Cyber and Information Security Agency where he was in charge of cyber security.

He replaces Jiří Šašek who was dismissed in May of this year following an audit into the service’s financial management.

Weather forecast

Saturday should be partly cloudy to overcast with rain in places and day temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius.