Daily news summary


Bohuslav Sobotka’s centre-left government to face no-confidence vote in the lower house on Tuesday

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s centre-left government will face a no-confidence vote in the lower house on Tuesday. The demand for a no-confidence vote was tabled by the opposition in reaction to a vote on a bill which would secure continued state support for biofuels. Opposition TOP 09 deputy leader Miroslav Kalousek told the lower house earlier this week that by supporting the bill the centre-left government was serving the interests of Finance Minister Andrej Babis’ business empire Agrofert. Although the government has enough support in the lower house to survive the no-confidence motion, the opposition Civic Democrats said the governments malpractices were such that it was no longer possible to let them pass unnoticed. The opposition has 52 votes in support of the motion but would need 101 to push it through.

Communist Party will not support no-confidence vote in centre-left administration

The leader of the Communist Party Vojtěch Filip has made it clear that the communists would not support the vote of no-confidence in the Sobotka government. Mr. Filip told reporters on Friday that his party welcomed some of the social measures effected by the Sobotka administration and that the Communist Party was not about to assist the return of right-wing government. Politicians like Miroslav Kalousek damaged the Czech economy for years and are now doing everything possible to return to power, the Communist Party leader noted.

Fourteen employees from Agency for Social Inclusion hand in their notice

Fourteen employees from the Czech government Agency for Social Inclusion, which is aimed at helping integrate Roma and other deprived groups, into mainstream society, handed in their notices on Thursday. They are walking out after a disagreement with the Minister for Human Rights, Jiří Dientsbier, over the way the agency should be run. According to the agency’s Lucie Macků, they are in particular angered by the recent dismissal of the agency’s long time head Martin Šimáček. She said the employees don’t want the agency to remain within the ministry’s authority and have called for it to be established as an independent entity.

Experts rule out technical error in Hungarian Gripen crash

The crash of a Hungarian Jas-39 Gripen fighter jet at the Časlav, airbase southeast of Prague, on Tuesday was not caused by technical error, Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnický told reporters on Friday. The minister did not elaborate further, saying the investigation by Czech, Hungarian and Swedish experts had not been concluded. The plane crash-landed during an international military drill in the Czech Republic. Both pilots ejected and were unhurt. The plane was completely destroyed. The information that the crash was not caused by a technical error means that the Gripen fighter jets used by the Czech army will not have to be grounded.

Group of world public figures protest against Days of Jerusalem festival

A number of well-known personalities have protested against the Days of Jerusalem Festival, which is to be held as part of the Pilsen s 2015 cultural events. In an open letter addressed to the European Commission, parliament, and council, they claim that the label European Capital of Culture is being used to help legitimise Israel’s political strategy. They are asking the Commission to “take steps to ensure that no event held as part of the European Capital of Culture official programme is breaching EU foreign policy and misinforming or manipulating the public for the political gains of a third party state.” Among the signatories are the linguist Noam Chomsky, former Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and British film director Ken Loach. The festival will be held in Pilsen in June, presenting dance, music, visual arts, films and cuisine.

President Zeman says Russia should join EU’s Eastern Partnership project

Attending an EU-Eastern Partnership summit in Riga Czech president Milos Zeman said Russia should consider joining the EU’s Eastern partnership. Mr. Zeman, who recently visited Moscow, noted that Russia had been invited to participate and had rejected the offer earlier on and may well be regretting its decision now. The Eastern Partnership project, launched at a summit in Prague in 2009,seeks to deepen relations between the EU and six former Soviet-bloc states and help them on the road to democracy and economic prosperity. Russia has criticized the project as an attempt to damage its interests and undermine its relations with the said countries.

Czechs admit to animal smuggling in Australia

Two Czech nationals on trial for animal smuggling in Perth, Australia have admitted their guilt. The two men told the judge they had attempted to smuggle around 150 reptiles, mostly lizards and snakes out of the country. They were arrested along with two Russians when customs officers found reptiles hidden in their luggage, among them 33 dead snakes. The men face up to ten years in prison and steep fines.

Chinese investors want to build wellness centre in Moravia

Chinese investors from Hebei Province want to build a huge wellness centre not far from Brno, in Moravia, the governor of the South Moravian region Michal Hašek told journalists on Friday. The investment would be worth two billion crowns and would create hundreds of jobs. The deal should be finalized in September and the wellness centre should be built by the end of 2018, the governor said.

Czech scientists to study influence of insects on forest vegetation

A team headed by a Czech scientist is to study the influence of insects on forest vegetation on six continents, the ctk news agency reports. The project headed by Vojtěch Novotný from the Czech Academy of Sciences has received a 92 million crown grant from the European Research Council. The team will work in Japan, Ghana, Panama and Papua New Guinea among other locations. The Czech Academy of Sciences has been operating a research centre in New Guinea for almost two decades.

Rosický set to stay at Arsenal for another season

Tomas Rosický is set to stay at Arsenal for another season, manager Arsene Wenger confirmed on Friday. Wenger said Rosický’s contract had been extended for another year. Rosický, 34, has been on the fringes of the Gunners squad this term, making only five starts in the Premier League. However, Wenger insisted the Czech Republic international remains integral to his plans for the 2015-16 campaign. Arsenal are likely to strengthen their squad in the summer, with Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech a reported target.