Daily news summary


Zeman appoints second Babiš government in Prague Castle ceremony

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, appointed a government coalition of ANO and the Social Democrats in a ceremony at Prague Castle on Wednesday morning. A previous government headed by ANO leader Andrej Babiš failed to win a vote of confidence in the lower house. The new government does not have a majority and expects to count on the backing of the Communist Party in crucial votes.

Social Democrats leader Jan Hamáček was named minister of interior and foreign affairs, with the second post expected to be for a limited period. The president had refused to appoint his party’s nominee for foreign affairs, Miroslav Poche.

Mr. Zeman told the new ministers he would support their government in person at a vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies on July 11, nine months after ANO secured almost 30 percent in general elections.

It is the first time since 1989 that the Communist Party will have any share of power in the Czech Republic.

Hamáček wants dispute with president resolved through dialogue

Social Democratic Party leader Jan Hamáček has said the party will not push for court action over the president’s refusal to appoint party nominee Miroslav Poche to the post of foreign minister.

Hamáček said at a press briefing shortly after the Cabinet’s appointment that he wanted to resolve the problem through dialogue since taking the issue to court would only exacerbate the situation.

The president refused to appoint Poche foreign minister on the grounds that his pro-migrant stance was at odds with the country’s anti-migrant policy. Social Democrat chief Jan Hamacek, who is interior minister, will temporarily head the foreign ministry.

Neither Hamáček nor Prime Minister Babiš wanted to comment on whether the president had overstepped his rights by refusing to make the appointment.

Visegrad leaders to meet with Macron ahead of EU summit

The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron before the opening of a two-day EU summit on migration in Brussels on Thursday.

The meeting was confirmed on Twitter by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis who said the leaders of the Visegrad Group wanted to clear up “some unfortunate statements about migration and French opposition to EU enlargement”.

The leaders of the Visegrad Four opted not to take part in an EU mini-summit on migration held at the initiative of German Chancellor Angela Merkel last Sunday.

A spokesman for the French government said later that the Visegrad “boycott” of the mini-summit would make the regular EU summit difficult.

President Macron also said last week that EU countries that refuse asylum seekers should be sanctioned.

Former influential politician sent to 8.5 years in jail

The regional court in Prague has sentenced the former health minister and governor of Central Bohemia, David Rath, to 8.5 years in jail for corruption.

Rath was arrested with seven million crowns on his person six years ago and accused of taking bribes to rig public contracts.

The Regional Court passed the same verdict three years ago, but it was overturned by an appeals court, which ruled that wiretaps used to prosecute him were inadmissible.

The Supreme Court subsequently ruled such that recordings could be used as evidence. Rath has once again appealed the verdict.

Court rules on compulsory acquisition of land in the public interest

In cases of compulsory acquisition of land in the public interest the state will still be bound to offer a suitable replacement along with financial compensation.

The Constitutional Court on Wednesday scrapped an amendment to the law that would only require the state to compensate owners financially as of July 1, on the grounds that it would set a dual standard with regard to various restituents.

The amendment was successfully contested by a group of 18 senators.

Wednesday 50th anniversary of Two Thousand Words declaration

Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Two Thousand Words manifesto, one of the key symbols of the Prague Spring movement. The declaration was written by author Ludvík Vaculík and appeared in several Czechoslovak newspapers on June 27, 1968.

The document, whose full title was Two Thousand Words that Belong to Workers, Farmers, Officials, Scientists, Artists, and Everybody, assessed hitherto progress during the Prague Spring, suggested ways the process of democratic reform could be intensified and called for civic engagement in politics.

It was signed by a number of prominent intellectuals and over 100,000 ordinary citizens.

Weather forecast

Thursday should be partly cloudy to overcast, with rain in places, and day temperatures between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius.