Daily news summary
Amnesty criticises Czech politicians, Roma education
International human rights agency Amnesty International has criticized the position taken by Czech politicians on refugees and immigrants.
In its latest report on human rights, Amnesty said politicians, including the president and minister of interior, made xenophobic remarks last year.
The report also criticised the country for the unequal access of Roma to education and the long running failure to buy out a pig farm at the site of a WWII Roma camp used by the Nazis. An agreement to buy out the farm has since been signed.
Former interior minister Milan Chovanec said the Czech position saved the country from the biggest waves of immigrants. The president’s spokesman denounced the report as insignificant nonsense.
Radical shake-up of Czech Export Bank planned
A fundamental shake-up of two pillars of Czech state export support is supported by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, according to the news agency ČTK.
Under the plans the Czech Export Bank, which gives soft loans to help exports in risky countries, would become a daughter company of the state export insurer, EGAP.
The ministry is seeking a radical transformation at both institutions. The mooted transformation would have to be approved by the Czech National Bank and the government.
Czech Republic moves up in corruption perception rankings
The Czech Republic has slightly improved its standing in watchdog Transparency Internationals’ annual Corruption Perception Index for 2017.
Under TI’s criteria, the country picked up 57 points compared to 55 in 2016. The country has moved to 42nd spot in the worldwide rankings, but it still lags behind the EU average by eight points.
In Europe, the Czech Republic climbed to 18th spot from last year’s 19th, but still found itself behind all of the Baltic States and Poland.
Transparency International’s annual Index has rated countries by perceived levels of corruption since 1995 on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being very corrupt and 100 being very clean.
Babiš: government of ANO and Social Democrats is sole alternative
A government made up of the ANO party and the Social Democrats tolerated by the Communist Party is the only alternative on the table at present, outgoing prime minister and ANO party leader Andrej Babis said after talks with Social Democrat leaders on Wednesday.
Petr Fiala, chairman of the Civic Democrats, with whom Babiš debated foreign policy issues on Wednesday, reiterated his party’s unwillingness to enter into a coalition government with ANO or tolerate an ANO minority cabinet.
The negotiating teams of the two parties, ANO and the Social Democrats, will meet to discuss policy issues after the parties' leaderships meeting next Wednesday, Babiš added.
Presidential candidate Fischer to run for Senate seat
Unsuccessful Czech presidential candidate Pavel Fischer has announced he will stand for Senate elections in the Prague 12 district as an independent.
Fischer, who scored a surprise third place in the first round of elections with 10.23 percent of support, announced his decision on Thursday.
The former diplomat said he would like to specialise in the upper house of parliament in foreign policy, defence policy, and help for the regions. He added that he would seek support from other political parties.
Czech back Michal Jordán says ready to face Russia
In ice hockey, the prospects of Czech back Michal Jordán playing in the Olympic semi-finals against Russia on Friday have improved.
Jordán, 27, was left out of the team that narrowly beat the US on Wednesday because of muscle pains.
On Thursday he underwent a full training session and said he was ready to play. The Czechs are widely seen as underdogs against Russia to get into the Olympic finals.
Václav Pilař to play at Liberec till end of season
In football, Viktoria Plzeň have agreed to lend midfielder Václav Pilař to Slovan Liberec until the end of the season.
Pilař has been injured for most of the season but is expected to be recovered by the Spring with the possibility in a few matches before the end of the season.
Pilař has been part of the national team since 2011. He returned to Plzeň in 2014 after a period playing in Germany’s Bundesliga.
Friday is expected to be sunny. Top daytime temperatures will range between minus one and three degrees Celsius.