Daily news summary

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Chinese ambassador called on to explain Czech minister’s Beijing ban

China’s ambassador to Prague was called on Thursday the circumstances surrounding Beijing’s last minute ban on agriculture minister Marian Jurečka heading a delegation to the country. The ambassador met with deputy foreign affairs minister Martin Tlapa where the subject was raised. The meeting had been scheduled previously. Christian Democrat Jurečka has been an outspoken backer of party colleague and culture minister Daniel Herman in a recent row over the circumstances of his meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The Czech agriculture delegation was part of an agreed programme aimed at cutting China’s massive trade surplus with the Czech Republic. Deputy minister Tlapa said after the meeting that the ambassador could not give reasons for the ban and apparently did not know them. Attempts will be made to fix future dates for Jurečka's visit.

Lyrics writer Michal Horáček declares for 2018 presidential campaign

Famous lyrics writer Michal Horáček declared that he will run for Czech president in elections due in 2018. Horáček declared himself as a non-party candidate in a press conference on Thursday. He has been mulling the move since April. He said that he could cover the costs of the campaign himself and is now only for volunteers to help. He added that his campaign will stress the central role for the Czech Republic’s future of both the EU and NATO. Current head of state Miloš Zeman, frequently criticized for his friendly relations with Russia and China, has not declared yet whether he will run for another term in direct presidential elections.

PM Bohuslav Sobotka in official visit to Sweden

Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka will begin a two day official visit to Sweden Thursday, the first by a Czech government leader since 2007. Sobotka will be accompanies by a large business delegation, mostly from the energy, transport, and engineering sectors. A meeting with Swedish counterpart, Stefan Löfven, will take place Thursday. Discussions will also cover stepped up defense cooperation, a key issue given the fact that the Czech Army uses the Swedish built JAS-39 jet to defend its airspace.

Brussels poised to clear massive Czech renewables aid payment

The European Commission is set in the next days to give final clearance to Czech subsidies for solar and wind power totalling around 40 billion crowns, according to Thursday’s edition of the business daily Hospodářske Noviny. The aid covers renewable power facilities put into operation between 2006 and 2011. For many years the annual aid to the owners was paid without Brussels clearance but the Czech energy regulator finally warned that this would have to stop. Last year the aid was paid after a top official a the Czech energy regulator signed off on it. He later lost his job with the Energy Regulatory Office head Alena Vitaškova once again in a clash with the Ministry of Industry and Trade over whether the massive payment will be made this year. A decision must be taken by the end of November.

Tomáš Berdych faces Gilles Simon in Paris Masters tie

Top Czech men’s tennis player Tomáš Berdych faces Frenchman Gilles Simon for a place in the Paris Masters quarterfinals and a chance to keep his hopes alive of a place in the end of season ATP Masters tournament. Berdych this week dropped out of the world top 10 for the first time in more than six years following recent injury and poor form. He has played Simon, who once climbed to number six in the world, 12 times and lost seven of the confrontations.

Komerční Banka profits rise in first nine months

One of the three big Czech banks, Komerční Banka, declared a rise in profit for the first nine months of the year of 7.7 percent to 10.6 billion crowns (around 392 million euros). That figure was boosted by many exceptional items, such as Komerční Banka’s, sale of its stake in the car company Visa Europe. Without that boost the profit figure would actually have fallen by 8.9 percent to 9.1 billion crowns. The number of bank clients rose by around 8,000to stand at 1.65 million.

Czech Republic placed in bottom 10 countries worldwide for empathy

The Czech Republic and most of its Central European neighbours are among the least empathetic countries in the world according to a US survey. Michigan State University attempted to survey around 104,000 people aged between 18 and 90 in 63 countries worldwide and tried to rank their overall empathy. On the basis of those scores, the Czech Republic was placed 55th in the table. Slovakia was placed in 57th place with nine out of the 10 worst placed countries in former communist countries. The most empathetic countries are Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Denmark, and the United Arab Emirates.