Daily news summary


MPs overturn president’s veto on civil service bill

Czech MPs on Friday voted to approve the government’s civil service bill, overturning the president’s veto of the legislation. The bill should depoliticize public administration and overhaul the rules for the employment of public servants. However, the president had earlier warned he would file a complaint with the Constitutional Court if the bill is approved. Mr Zeman criticized, among other things, the fact that the legislation formally introduces posts of politically appointed deputy ministers. A civil service bill was first adopted by the Czech Parliament in 2002 as a prerequisite for the country’s accession to the EU but has never been implemented.

Czech Airliners unions cancel strike over lay-offs, salary cuts

Trade unions at the Czech national carrier Czech Airlines have cancelled plans to go on strike next Thursday over lay-offs and salary cuts. The decision came after the firm's management promised on Friday to “limit the impact” of the restructuring. Earlier this week, the troubled firm announced salary cuts and massive layoffs; some 170 of the airline’s 400 cabin crew members are set to lose their jobs under the plan. However, the agreement will not affect the basic features of the plan, Václav Řehoř, the head of Czech Airlines’ mother company, Czech Aeroholding, said.

President Zeman on Chinese visit

President Miloš Zeman is in China on the first official visit by a Czech head of state to the country in 10 years. Mr Zeman on Friday visited a trade show in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, and met with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai to discuss plans to launch a direct flight connection between their countries, a spokesman for the Czech president said. Mr Zeman is accompanied by a large business delegation which includes representatives of Czech industrial companies, universities, wine producers, legal firms, railway operators, and others. The Czech head of state is scheduled to meet with the Chinese president and prime minister on Monday, the last day of his Chinese visit.

Finance Ministry cuts GDP growth forecast

The Czech Finance Ministry has lowered its forecast for this year’s GDP growth to 2.4 percent, down from its previous estimate of 2.7 percent. The ministry said is cut the forecast due to revisions of the country’s economic growth in the previous quarters as calculated according to a new European methodology, known as ESA 2010. In the next two years, the ministry expects the economy to grow by 2.5 percent, mainly because of growing domestic consumption.

Poll: Most Czechs consider Russia “future threat”

Some 65 percent of Czechs consider Russia a threat for their country’s future, according to a poll by the STEM agency released on Friday. Last November, a similar poll found that 36 percent of Czechs considered Russia a threat. A majority of Czechs, 80 percent, also consider the crisis in Ukraine to threaten peace in Europe. However, 72 percent of those who took part in the survey said they did not believe that EU sanctions against Russia would help bring the conflict in Ukraine to an end.

MPs postpone vote on controversial child care bill

The lower house of the Czech Parliament has postponed a vote on controversial child care legislation. The bill would require all nurseries, kindergartens and informal babysitting groups to comply with strict hygiene rules which critics say would threaten their existence. It would also most likely lead to the closure of some 120 outdoor nurseries known as forest kindergartens. The bill, approved by MPs last month, returned to the lower house after a presidential veto and a new vote on the legislation was on Friday. But the coalition Christian Democrats said MPs should first determine whether the bill should be amended.

UK cancer patient Ashya King completes proton therapy treatment

Five-year-old British cancer patient Ashya King received a final dose of proton beam therapy on Friday, concluding his six-week long treatment at Prague’s Proton Therapy Centre, doctors at the facility said, adding that the boy has coped well with the treatment and is now able to eat and sit by himself and move his hands. The patient is now set to return to Spain for rehabilitation. The physicians are optimistic about the boy’s prognosis but said they would only be able to say whether the treatment has been successful in several moths’ time.

Ashya King’s story received international attention after his parents took him from a UK hospital in August without his doctors‘ consent. They took him to Spain where they were arrested before being allowed to come to Prague for the special treatment.

Václav Klaus to head National Council for Education

Ex-president Václav Klaus is to head the planned National Council for Education which is to be established in 2015, Education Minister Marcel Chládek told journalists on Friday. The 15-member council is expected to issue recommendations and draft a long-term strategy which would improve the quality of education across the country. Vaclav Klaus has in the past expressed serious reservations regarding the national curriculum, the quality of education provided at Czech schools and the manner in which the performance of different learning institutions is evaluated.

Romany musician Eugen Horváth dies aged 74

Renowned Romany musician Eugen Horváth died on Friday at the age of 74, the Museum of Romany Culture in Brno said. The Slovak-born Horváth, known as Janko, came from a musical family, and learned the play the violin at an early age. In 1969, he formed his own cimbalom band which recorded several albums including the 1992 record Gypsy Weeping.

Killer of Social Democrat figure sentenced to 17.5 years

A man convicted of last year’s murder of an influential Social Democrat politician has been sentenced to 17.5 years in prison. The court said that the man, a former army officer, gunned down Roman Houska in front of his home in the northern city of Ústí nad Labem in what looked like an execution, and rejected the shooter’s claims that he acted in self-defence. Media reports described the killing as a contract murder but the court said no motive had been established. However, if new evidence emerges, the authorities will act accordingly, the court said.

Football: Sparta, Slovan face sanctions over Europa League crowd trouble

Sparta Prague and Slovan Bratislava face sanctions from UEFA, the governing body of European football, following crowd violence during their Europa League tie in Bratislava on Thursday night. The game was suspended for 40 minutes shortly before half time after violent exchanges occurred between fans of the teams. Sparta eventually won the game 3-0. The hosts now face stadium closure for failing to prevent the disturbances while Sparta’s fans could be banned from travelling to their team’s away games. Both clubs have condemned the incident. A verdict by UEFA’s disciplinary committee is expected next week, the Czech FA said.

Tennis: Kvitová knocked out of WTA Finals

Top Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová lost to Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark 2-6 3-6 in the group stage of the WTA Finals in Singapore on Friday, and has been eliminated from the event. Kvitová went ahead at the start of both sets but lost her lead after a series of errors and poor serving. The 24-year-old Czech said she was exhausted but would be in shape for the Czech Fed Cup team’s tie against Germany in Prague next month.