Daily news summary


Babiš responds to French comments on EU meeting “boycott”

The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babiš, has responded to French comments regarding the Visegrad Four and an informal EU meeting on migration planned for Sunday. French government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said the fact that the V4 countries – which include the Czech Republic – were boycotting the mini-summit on Sunday would make it harder to find a Europe-wide deal on migration at a major summit of the EU 28 at the end of next week.

Mr. Babiš described Mr. Griveaux’s words as “unfortunate”. He said the V4 were not boycotting anything but were just not attending Sunday’s mini-summit, which he said had been called in a most irregular manner.

On Thursday morning the Czech PM said he was going to Sunday's meeting. However, after V4 and Austria talks later that day he said none of the Visegrad states would be represented there.

Hamáček could also serve as acting foreign minister, ending Poche impasse

The leader of the Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček, says he could temporarily also serve as minister of foreign affairs in a coalition his party is planning with ANO. ANO are opposed to the Social Democrats’ nominee for the foreign affairs portfolio, Miroslav Poche.

Mr. Hamáček, who is in line to serve as interior minister in the Communist-supported two-party minority government, made the comments after President Miloš Zeman – who is also opposed to his candidature – asked Mr. Poche to step aside during a meeting on Friday.

ANO leader Andrej Babiš says he would have no problem with Social Democrats’ chairman Hamáček holding two ministerial posts for a limited period.

Mr. Babiš has said that the prospective coalition could undergo a vote of confidence in the lower house on July 11.

Poche could take post other than minister at Foreign Affairs under “plan B”

The Social Democrats’ Miroslav Poche says if he does not become foreign minister he could serve in another role at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Czech Television reported on Saturday. The MEP is his party’s choice for that portfolio in a minority coalition taking shape with ANO. However, his appointment is opposed by President Miloš Zeman and ANO Andrej Babiš.

Mr. Poche described a possible scenario under which Social Democrats chairman Jan Hamáček would temporarily take on foreign affairs as a second portfolio and he himself would serve in a different role at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “plan B”.

However, both he and Mr. Hamáček are still insisting that Mr. Poche head the ministry, he said.

Rychetský: Zeman spokesman should quit over Twitter comments

The spokesman for President Miloš Zeman, Jiří Ovčáček, should quit over his comments on Twitter, says the president of the Czech Constitutional Court, Rychetský. Speaking in an interview published by the news site iDnes.cz, Mr. Rychetský said Mr. Ovčáček’s position gave him no right whatever to express any opinions on the courts, domestic politics or foreign policy.

Mr. Rychetský, who served as deputy prime minister in a government headed by Mr. Zeman, also said that the now head of state had – like his predecessors – allowed himself to be surrounded by yes men.

National Archive takes over control of Slánský trial recordings

The Czech National Archive has taken possession of recently discovered film and audio recordings of the 1950s show trial of Rudolf Slánský and others. Since being found the materials had been looked after by the National Film Archive. The NFA comes under the Ministry of Culture, which had promised to apply for government funding for their care.

A spokesperson for the National Archive (which comes under the Ministry of the Interior) said however that it should oversee the recordings under Czech law.

The valuable materials were uncovered by chance by insolvency administrators at a factory in Central Bohemia.

Saturday declared “tax freedom day” in Czech Republic

Saturday is the day of the year when Czechs have made enough money to pay their tax obligations this year and begin earning for themselves, according to the calculations of accounting firm Deloitte. It says it took the country 174 days to reach the 2018 “tax freedom day”.

According to Deloitte, that day has never come so late in the year for Czechs. Another organisation, the Liberal Institute, uses different calculations and declared “tax freedom day” on May 22.

Weather forecast

Sunday should be overcast and rainy in the Czech Republic, with temperatures of up to 17 degrees Celsius. More rain is expected throughout the week but daytime highs will climb to around 25 degrees Celsius.