Daily news summary


Minister warns OKD situation is serious, company faced with bankruptcy

The situation at mining company OKD is serious with bankruptcy threatened, Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek warned after a meeting with unions on Thursday. The company has threatened to close the Paskov mine a year early in 2016. The issue will be debated by the government and also discussed with unions and employers, the minister added. He said he hoped New World Resources, the final owner, would put forward other options than closure or selling the mine to the state when negotiations start in January. The Paskov mine employs around 1700 directly with another 500 jobs closely linked the mine’s continuance.

One in 10 Czech households dealing with poverty: survey

Around one Czech household in 10 has problems making ends meet on the basic earnings coming in, a survey by the Sociological Institute of the Academy of Sciences has revealed. The survey takes account of the difficulty buying goods for basic needs and puts the country in 10th place for poverty in the EU. This contrasts with more mainstream surveys when total earning less than 60 percent of the average wage are calculated and the Czech Republic often comes out as one of the best performers with regards to poverty in Europe.

Moravia Steel reported to be courting Slovakia’s US Steel

Czech steelmaker Moravia Steel is investigating the possible purchase of Slovakia’s biggest steel company, the Kosice-based unit of US Steel, according to Slovak media reports. Moravia Steel, is owned by Tomáš Chrenek. Speculation over the sale of US Steel has increased given European steelmakers’ problems with low priced Chinese production. The US parent company previously threatened to shutdown the Slovak plant but was offered a package of help by the government, including lower power prices, to maintain production.

TOP 09 sets target for new Prague coalition deal within week

The TOP 09 party has set a target to form a new coalition to government Prague City Hall within a week, in time for the next general meeting of the council. A brake so far has been the position of possible partners, the Pirate Party, and the Civic Democrats (ODS). The Pirates have said they are willing to form a coalition with ODS but only on condition that the party is not given any presence on the executive council. Participation of the grouping known as the Three Coalition in also being looked into. The party positions should be clarified by Monday. The former coalition headed by the ANO Party fell apart in November leaving an effective power vacuum at the council.

More than 5 million visitors to heritage sites

Over five million tourists will have visited the castles, stately homes, and other monuments managed by the National Heritage Institute this year, the organisation announced. That is a record since 2009, when the body began calculating attendances according to current methods. The biggest draw over the year was Český Krumlov with around 395,000 visitors. Last year the institute announced attendance for 2014 of 4.8 million.

Court sets compensation for man accused of ‘theft of the century’

A Prague court on Thursday give a final verdict that a man who was unjustly pursued by police and legal authorities for the so-called “theft of the century” will be given 225,000 crowns in compensation. František Hajn was sought with two other men in connection with a security van hold up in 2002 in which 154 million crowns was taken. The pursuit continued to the Dominican Republic where he fled. Hajn’s lawyer said that the compensation was exceptionally low and added that he would almost certainly appeal to the Constitutional Court.

Karel Schwarzenberg awarded Robert Schuman Medal

Karel Schwarzenberg, former Czech foreign minister and TOP 09 honorary chairman, has been awarded the Robert Schuman Medal for contribution to peace, European development and human values. He received the medal from the hands of Manfred Weber, who heads the European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament. Schwarzenberg, who has just turned 78, is the first Czech to receive the Award. The previous recipients include Pope John Paul II, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former EC president Jose Manuel Barroso.

School headmistress receives Alice G. Masaryk Human Rights Award

US Ambassador Andrew Shapiro has presented the 2015 Alice G. Masaryk Human Rights Award to Marie Gottfriedová, headmistress of a primary school in Trmice in the region of Ústí nad Labem, which is regarded as a socially excluded locality. According to the US Embassy, the school effectively promotes the idea of inclusive education, and is successful in integrating the local Roma community. The award was established in 2004 to recognize persons and institutions in the Czech Republic who have made exceptional and continuing contributions to the advancement of human rights. Previous award winners include the ombudswoman Anna Šabatová or head of Transparency International David Ondráčka.

Pavel Vrba dismisses resignation speculation

In football, Czech national coach Pavel Vrba has denied rumours that he was weighing up quitting his job in the near future. Speculation about his future surfaced in the daily Sport, which said Vrba has been approached with offers from Russian clubs after the European Championships conclude in 2016. Chairman of the Czech football association Miroslav Pelta said that he hoped Vrba would stay on. He did, however reveal that a clause in Vrba’s contract could allow him to quit before the end of this current two year contract.

Petr Čech and Arsenal progress in Champions League

Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech and his Arsenal team have made a miraculous comeback in the Champions League. Čech kept a clean sheet in the 3:0 win over Olympiakos Pireus which ensured the London club’s qualification for the next round of the competition. Arsenal needed to win the game with at least a two goal margin over their rivals for the second spot in the group. Arsenal’s progression in the competition looked almost impossible at one stage after a disastrous debut in the group games.