Daily news summary


Foreign Minister to make first Czech official visit to China for 15 years

Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek will fly to Beijing China on Sunday for a three day official visit, the first by a Czech minister for 15 years, the government announced on Wednesday. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the visit was a mark of the government’s desire to reset relations with China. He pointed out that major European countries like Germany, France, and Britain had not let human rights issues get in the way of developing much better relations than those enjoyed by the Czech Republic. Zaorálek said relations with China have been at freezing point and that had stalled trade, export and other deals. China was looking at the possibility of establishing a technology park, probably in Moravia-Silesia, which would focus on high value added production, he added.

Czech FA gives up 2020 European championships bid

The Czech football association has given up on the idea of making a bid to co-host the European Championships in 2020. The final nail in the coffin for the bid was the refusal of Prague’s City Council to sign up to an agreement between it, the association, and European football’s governing body, UEFA. Prague city councillors said they were afraid Prague would have had to cover costs of the event if there were problems and complained that the football association had not been in contact over the previous three months. The Czech football association had been hoping that proposals to enlarge Prague’s Eden stadium would make it eligible to host some of the European championship games which UEFA wanted to share between 13 cities.

Czech bookshops campaign for lower VAT rates

More than 300 Czech bookshops were on Wednesday offering 15 percent reductions on their prices as part of a campaign to cut Value Added Tax on books. The Association of Czech Book Sellers and Publishers has welcomed the government’s proposal to cut the current 15 percent VAT rate on books to 10 percent but says that it still believes that the right rate should be 5 percent. The association says a 10 percent rate would still leave the Czech sales tax on books higher than in most other European countries.

Police launch proceedings against top Ústí council members over welcome programme

Police have launched criminal proceedings against the mayor of Ústí nad Labem and two members of the city council’s executive for abuse of third party property. All three are members of the Social Democrat (ČSSD) party with one, Zuzana Kailová, also a member of the lower house of parliament. Police are asking for her immunity from prosecution to be lifted. The case centres on a private company which won a 5 million crown contract to welcome new citizens to the city. It was found to have only spent a total of 600,000 crowns on cheques to the newcomers.

Czechs have first sex at 18 or under according to survey

Most Czechs have sex for the first time before they are 18, according to survey results announced Wednesday by the Prague based Sexualogical Institute. Results from the previous study held five years ago found that Czechs were 18 or over when they had their first sex. The latest results showed that 42 percent of couples relied on condoms during their first sex compared with only a third doing so in 2008. The biggest source of information about sex, for a third of women and over a third of men, were friends and acquaintances. Researchers pointed out that these were not always the most accurate source of information.

Weather office warns of severe storms in north and east of country

The Czech Hydrometeorological Office has warned of severe storms hitting the Moravia-Silesia, Olomouc, and Zlín regions on Wednesday. Rainfall could total up to 3 centimetres in place. The storms are predicted to die out during the late evening but further storms are predicted across the country in the coming days.

Gas company RWE returns to profit in 2013

The Czech Republic’s biggest retailer of natural gas, RWE Czech Republic, said on Wednesday that it had halted the erosion of its customer base last year. RWE said it increased gas sales to 37.6 TWh from 37.0 TWh and attracted back customers with new offers. The company announced a profit of 10.5 billion crowns on turnover of 53.6 billion crowns, though the results are not comparable with previous years because of the sale of its gas pipeline company NET4GAS and other changes. It made a loss of around 16.7 billion in 2012. The company said it is consolidating its position as the biggest alternative electricity supplier by attracting a quarter of all the customers switching suppliers last year.

Čech injured in Champions League tie

Star football goalkeeper Petr Čech suffered a shoulder injury in Chelsea’s match on Tuesday against Atletico Madrid which has put him out for the rest of the season. Čech collided with Atletico’s Raul Garcia and came off in just the 18th minute. He was replaced by 41-year-old Mark Schwarzer, making only his second appearance in the competition. The semi-final ended 0:0. The teams will meet next week for the second-leg at Stamford Bridge.

NHL playoffs: Hertl scores for Sharks against L.A.

In NHL action on Tuesday, the Montreal Canadiens swept Tampa Bay at the Bell Centre, winning their best-of-seven series 4:0. The Canadiens won the game 4:3. Czech forward Tomáš Plekanec got an assist in the match; Ondřej Palata got a goal and an assist for the losing team.

Elsewhere, the San Jose Sharks defeated L.A in overtime to take a 3:0 stranglehold on the series. Upcoming Czech star Tomáš Hertl tied the game at three to send the game to extra time; the winner was scored by Patrick Marleau.

KHL: Lev Praha take 2:1 lead in Gagarin Cup

Prague hockey club Lev Praha have taken a 2:1 lead in the Gagarin Cup final against Magnitogorsk. The teams met for Game 3 in Prague on Tuesday. The match appeared headed for overtime, but Lev’s Justin Azvedo scored with just 21 seconds left on the clock to clinch the win. No non-Russian team has ever won the Gagarin Cup; Game 4 takes place in Prague on Thursday.