Daily news summary

PM Babiš tells Politico Brussels needs to curb growing Euroscepticism

Outgoing Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has told the Brussels news site Politico he is the country’s best and possibly last chance to prevent the anti-European radicalization of Czech society.

In an interview for Politico Babiš presented himself as a pro-European politician who defended the EU project as such, but he said Euroscepticism in the Czech Republic would grow if Brussels continued to make mistakes such as that of trying to enforce mandatory migrant quotas on member states.

He said such mistakes strengthened the position of parties such as the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party of Tomio Okamura which would clearly be in favour of the Czech Republic leaving the EU.

Prague court rejects compensation for Czechs abducted in Lebanon

A Prague court has rejected a compensation claim from four of the five Czechs abducted in Lebanon in 2015 on the argument that the intelligence services could have prevented their abduction.

The judge ruled that there was no indication that the intelligence services had erred in the case. The four had asked for 400 million crowns in compensation.

The five Czechs - a lawyer, a military intelligence officer, an Arabic interpreter and two TV reporters- were travelling in Lebanon when they were abducted.

They spent 199 days in detention and were released shortly after the Czech justice minister announced he would not extradite Ali Fayad, a reported member of the Lebanese secret services held in Prague to the US to face terrorism charges.

Security to be beefed-up at all international airports in Czech Republic

The government is planning to invest close to 600 million crowns to increase security at the country’s international airports in Brno, Karlovy Vary, Ostrava and Pardubice. A special commission is to be set up to assess their needs.

Prague’s Vaclav Havel International Airport has significantly increased security in recent years, bringing security measures in line with European norms. On Tuesday the airport’s security department received new equipment for the detection of radioactive and chemical substances. Altogether 200 million crowns have been spent on increasing security at Prague's main airport.

Babiš slams Hüner for bungling memorandum talks with EMH

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has criticized Trade and Industry Minister Tomáš Hüner for failing to consult with the government the decision that the Czech Republic and the Australian-based metals company, European Metals Holdings (EMH) would sign an addendum to the memorandum on lithium mining in the Czech Republic.

The memorandum, which was signed by the former trade minister, has come under fire from several parties including Prime Minister Babiš’ ANO party for allegedly selling out the country’s national interests. Minister Hüner said following talks with EMH representatives last week that the interested parties had clarified their positions on the memorandum, its interpretation as well as the legal implications and would sign an addendum to the document within a week.

The Communist Party which is considering supporting or tolerating the prime minister’s new government was so outraged by the news it threatened to withdraw from the talks.

Reconstruction of Wenceslas Square to start next week

The City of Prague has received a final construction permit for the reconstruction of the lower end of Wenceslas Square. City Hall spokesman Vit Hofman said work would begin next week.

The reconstruction work will be phased-out so as to minimize the inconvenience for pedestrians and traffic.

The reconstruction, which has been in the pipeline for years, is expected to bring more greenery and seating arrangements to the square and expand the area for pedestrians only.

It should cost over 150 million and be concluded by the end of 2018.

Legendary hockey player Jaromír Jágr to complete season with HC Kladno

No NHL team picked up future Hall of Famer Jaromír Jágr within an allotted 24-hour deadline after the player was placed on waivers by the Calgary Flames, and on Monday the club announced it had assigned the veteran player to HC Kladno in the Czech Republic. The move likely spells the end of Jágr's NHL career.

In a statement, the player thanked Brad Treliving and the Flames for giving him an opportunity to extend his NHL career this season and expressed regret things hadn't worked out as he and the club had hoped. Jágr was uncharacteristically dogged by injury throughout the fall season and was limited to only 22 appearances.

In the statement he said he was "deeply grateful to the Flames, the fans and the city of Calgary for having welcomed [him] so generously" and said that he was now "looking forward to continuing the season in Kladno."

The player is a co-owner of his hometown club, just outside of Prague.

Jágr, a legend in the sport with two Stanley Cup rings but also Olympic gold from Nagano '98, recorded 766 goals and 1,921 points over the course of his NHL career. In the latter part of his career he became equally well-known for his good humor and tireless work ethic.

Weather forecast

Wednesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with day temperatures between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius.