Daily news summary

Russian politicians hail Zeman comments on Crimea

Russian politicians have welcomed comments made by Czech President Miloš Zeman on Crimea at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Czech Television reported. The Czech head of state said Ukraine should seek financial compensation for the loss of Crimea and called for the lifting of sanctions against Russia.

The chairman of the Duma’s International Affairs Committee, Leonid Slutsky, said he welcomed Mr. Zeman’s recognition of the connection between Russia and Crimea as a fait accompli. Mr. Slutsky’s counterpart in the Russian upper house, Konstantin Kosachev, said Mr. Zeman said out loud what other European politicians were thinking.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed indignation at Mr. Zeman’s words, while Czech government members have said his comments were at odd with the country’s official foreign policy.

Cabinet refuses ANO call to cancel lithium memorandum

The cabinet has rejected a proposal from ANO to abrogate a memorandum on the mining of lithium signed last week with Australia’s European Metals Holdings Company. However, the Social Democrat foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, said the government had agreed a measure aimed at boosting the state’s rights to mine other materials.

ANO say the memorandum signed by the Social Democrat-controlled Ministry of Industry sells out the national interest. They warn it could lead to the Czech Republic being involved in an international arbitration case that could cost billions of crowns.

European Metals intends to mine the in-demand mineral at Cínovec in North Bohemia.

Government backs participation in European defence structure

The Czech government has approved the country’s involvement in preparations for greater cooperation in European defence as part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) structure.

The state secretary for European affairs, Aleš Chmelař, told journalists on Wednesday that the PESCO would formally get underway in December. Officials say the initiative on cooperation will allow for more efficient use of defence budgets.

The government also rubber-stamped Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka's mandate for a European Union summit in Brussels at the end of next week.

Almost third would vote Zeman for president, poll suggests

Thirty-one percent of those planning to vote in January’s presidential election would give their backing to the incumbent Miloš Zeman, suggests a poll by the CVVM agency. Academic Jiří Drahoš placed second in the survey on 18 percent, followed by businessman and lyricist Michal Horáček on 14 percent.

Over one-quarter of those planning to go to the ballot boxes said they had not yet decided on whom to give their vote.

The presidential election follows a two-round system, with the first two in the first round going into a run-off.

Škoda bosses reassure PM over Czech jobs

The management of carmakers Škoda Auto have reassured the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, that they will do all they can to keep jobs in the Czech Republic. There has been speculation that Volkswagen, which owns Škoda, could transfer part of its production to Germany from other countries.

Mr. Sobotka said he had received the reassurances after a meeting with representatives of the automobile industry on Wednesday.

His words were echoed by Škoda Auto CEO Bernhard Maier, who said the Czech Republic was the heart and home of the company and would remain so.

Mr. Maier said the carmaker was currently looking to increase production capacity to keep up with worldwide demand.

Funeral of musician Zuzana Růžičková held in Prague

The funeral has taken place in Prague of the internationally-renowned harpsichordist Zuzana Růžičková, who died two weeks ago at the age of 90. The Plzeň-born musician and Holocaust survivor brought the harpsichord to new audiences around the world.

Zuzana Růžičková was a lifelong devotee of the music of Bach and recorded his complete works for keyboard, a 20-CD set that was rereleased at the start of the year to mark her 90th birthday.

Weather forecast

It should be cloudy with some sunny spells in the Czech Republic on Thursday. Temperatures are due to reach up to 19 degrees Celsius. The weather should be similar, if a little cooler, in the following days.