Daily news summary
Zeman says demonstrations against him disgrace to state and continuation of presidential campaign
President Miloš Zeman says demonstrations against him on Monday’s anniversary of the Velvet Revolution were a disgrace to the Czech Republic. Thousands held up red cards indicating he should quit at one meeting while at another eggs were thrown at Mr. Zeman, who was flanked by other presidents from the region. Speaking on Wednesday, Mr. Zeman said the protests were a continuation of last year’s presidential campaign. This would seem to suggest that he blamed Monday’s events on people around Karel Schwarzenberg, whom he defeated in a two-candidate run-off.
PM Sobotka meets US Vice President Joe Biden
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who is on a four-day visit to the United States, met with the US Vice President Joe Biden in the White House on Tuesday. The meeting was also attended by the chairman of the Czech Chamber of Deputies, Jan Hamáček. Mr Sobotka said after the meeting that it underscored the good relations between the Czech Republic and the US. He also said that Mr Biden acknowledged the Czech Republic’s efforts in the area of human rights.
ANO would win elections on 32 percent, Civic Democrats would beat TOP 09, suggests poll
ANO would come first in general elections with 32 percent of the vote, suggests a poll conducted this month by the STEM agency. The Social Democrats, who are the largest party in a coalition government that also features ANO, would finish second on 20 percent, the survey indicates. The Communist Party would place third, with 13.8 percent of the vote, according to the poll. The Civic Democrats would get 7.1 percent backing, just ahead of TOP 09 (6.9 percent), another right-wing party that has eclipsed them in recent times.
Czech Army should send troops to Golan Heights to support ally Israel, says president
Speaking to Czech Army generals on Wednesday, President Miloš Zeman restated his belief that Czech soldiers should be sent to the Golan Heights to support Israel, which he referred to as a traditional ally of the Czech Republic. Mr. Zeman told the army chiefs the country should fight the “greatest enemy” of the contemporary era, Islamists. The head of state also criticised the generals, saying they were “preparing for a past war”. He expressed support for the purchase of state of the art military equipment such as drones and backed an increase in the Czech Army’s budget.
Zeman: Europe, US, Russia and China should unite against Islamic terrorism
Czech President Miloš Zeman says Europe, the US, Russia and China should join forces to combat Islamic terrorism. Speaking in an interview in Wednesday’s edition of the German daily Bild, Mr. Zeman said Islamic terrorism was a bigger problem than the Ukraine crisis. He said he expected to see a resolution of the dispute between Ukraine and Russia as in the long term Moscow could not go without Western money and technology. The Czech head of state said terrorism would likely continue for decades and that another 9/11 could occur if the powers referred to did not work together.
Milan Štěch re-elected Senate chairman
Milan Štěch has been re-elected chairman of the Senate at its first session since elections last month in which a third of its seats were up for grabs. The former trade union leader was the only candidate for the post. His party the Social Democrats also continue to hold two deputy chairmanships in the upper house. Mr. Štěch has been a member of the Senate since it was established in 1996.
Court refuses to consider delaying prison term of businessman Janoušek
A Prague Court said on Wednesday that it would not consider whether to postpone the jail term of Roman Janoušek on health grounds as he had already entered prison. The court had been expected to hear a petition from the influential businessman, who has reportedly had a brain operation and requires more surgery. However, it said he could only appeal the verdict itself. Mr. Janoušek on Tuesday began serving a four and a half year term over a hit and run incident in 2012. Wiretaps published in the Czech media created the impression that he had held considerable influence over politicians in Prague.
Ministry of Interior receives envelope containing poison
An envelope containing poison was received by the Ministry of the Interior on Tuesday. Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Minister Milan Chovanec said that the envelope had been sent from a country in Southern Europe. Initial tests suggest the substance may have been cyanide-based, the minister said. In September suspicious letters containing a white substance were delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office of the Government and Prague Castle. President Miloš Zeman said at the time that the missives had been signed in the name of Islamic State and were in response to Czech support for Iraqi Kurds.
Jan Němec receives EU Prize for Literature
Czech writer Jan Němec was given the EU Prize for Literature for 2014 at a ceremony in Brussels on Tuesday night. The 33-year-old Němec was awarded for his novel Historie světla or A History of Light, based on the life of the famous Czech photographer František Drtikol. The prize, accompanied by 5,000 Euros, is dedicated to new and emerging European authors. Jan Němec is the second Czech writer to receive the prize after Tomáš Zmeškal, who was awarded the EU Prize for Literature in 2011.