Daily news summary

Czech high school students call for constitution to be respected

Tens of thousands of high school students across the Czech Republic took part in meetings at midday on Thursday to call for the country’s leaders and institutions to respect the country’s constitution and democratic values.

The meetings have been called in the aftermath of newly elected president Miloš Zeman’s inauguration address attack on public service broadcaster Czech Television and journalists working for one media group.

Concern has also been stoked by decisions taken by the current government although it hasn’t won a confidence vote and the presence in parliament of the anti-immigrant and anti-EU Party for Direct Democracy.

After around half hour meetings, high school students signed a petition called for constitutional values and norms to be respected.

European court condemns Czech Republic over ‘closed’ notary profession

The European Court of Justice has condemned the Czech Republic for restricting access to the notary profession to just Czechs.

In a ruling Thursday, the court said such nationality limits were discriminatory and broke basic EU rules on free movement and citizens’ rights. The profession could only be limited to citizens if issues of security were at stake and this was clearly not the case.

The European Commission launched court proceedings against the county in 2016 after foot dragging by Prague to bring its rules into line with other member states.

Czech business boss says PM’s position on new nuclear reactors is ‘fiction’

The head of the Czech Chamber of Commerce has hit out at current prime minister Andrej Babiš for his stance that state dominated utility ČEZ should be able to build new nuclear reactors on its own without any help.

Chamber president Vladimír Dlouhý, speaking at an energy conference in Prague, said such a position was pure fiction.

He added that the chamber supports construction of new reactors and that the Czech Republic has advantages, such as developed nuclear know how and companies with relevant experience, which many other countries lacked.

A Czech government energy framework calls for at least one new reactor to be built at the current Dukovany site by at least 2035 when the four current units there are likely to be phased out.

Fortuna sees turnover almost double in 2017

Czech betting company Fortuna saw its profits rise by around 86 percent in 2017 according to preliminary figures released on Thursday.

Profit climbed to around 15.4 billion euros, around 392 million crowns. One of the factors was increased activity on online betting sites. Fortuna also boosted its turnover through the takeover of betting businesses in Romania.

The volume of overall bets rose by 93.1 percent to 2.0 billion euros, around 51 billion crowns.

Czech retailers see year start with sales increase of around 8.2 percent

Turnover in the Czech retail sector was 8.2 percent higher in January compared with a year earlier, according to the Czech Statistical Office on Thursday.

Activity was 0.8 percent higher in January compared with December.

Most of the increased turnover was in the food sector, with turnover up 2.3 percent, compared with the non-food sector where the rise was 1.5 percent.

Czech construction sector sees activity up by around a third

Activity in the Czech construction sector rose by more than a third in January compared with the same period a year earlier.

The increase came to 33.6 percent compared with January 2017. New planning permits granted increased year-on-year by 1.4 percent with the value of the new permits rising by 20.8 percent. New construction starts were up 23.1 percent compared with a year earlier.

The Czech building sector last year appeared to come out of a long running slump but some sectors, such as civil engineering and infrastructure still appear to be depressed due to the lack of new government and public sector orders.

Czech industrial production up 5.5 percent in January

Czech industrial production rose by 5.5 percent in January, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office. The increase was 0.6 percent compared with Dec ember.

New orders were 3.4 percent higher compared with a year earlier.

The biggest contribution to the production increase was manufacturing of cars, machinery and equipment, and electrical goods.

‘The Deminer’ wins best film award at One World festival

Swedish film ‘The Deminer’ won the best film award at the One World festival of human rights documentaries in Prague on Wednesday. The best direction award went to Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki, for his film ‘Of Fathers and Sons’.

Wednesday’s award ceremony closed the Prague leg of the 20th edition of the festival, which attracted over 28,000 visitors. The event will now move on to 36 other Czech towns and cities.

Around 4,000 people protested against Miloš Zeman on Wednesday

About 4,000 people gathered on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Wednesday night to demonstrate in support of Czech Television. The event, entitled We Won’t Give Zeman CT!, was organised in response to a verbal attack by President Miloš Zeman on the broadcaster and other journalists during his inauguration speech last Thursday.

The rally started with the participants paying respect to Ján Kuciak, a Slovak investigative journalist, who was most likely murdered for exposing corruption in high office in late February.

Meanwhile, the recently reinstalled head of state is under fire for hosting a concert for his supporters at Prague Castle.