Prezident Zemans insists on inviting Ukraine’s Yanukovich
Czech President Miloš Zeman has rejected calls to cancel an invitation for Ukrainian head of state, Vitkor Yanukovich, to visit the Czech Republic. Several hundred people including director Jiří Menzel and singer Jaroslav Hutka, have signed an appeal to Mr Zeman, asking him to cancel the visit planned for April. They would also like the Czech president to demand Ukraine return to democracy and rule of law. However, Mr Zeman’s spokesman said the Czech president had no plants to cancel the invitation, made during his visit to Kiev last October. He also said Mr Zeman prefers a dialogue will all sides.
President Zeman’s approval rating up
President Miloš Zeman’s approval rating reached 42 percent in January, according to a poll by the CVVM agency released on Monday. That is 1 percent more than in the previous month but much less than last April when 61 percent of those polled said they trusted the president. The most trusted institutions are mayors and local councils, with an approval rating of 61 percent. Some 10 percent of people surveyed said in January they were satisfied with the political situation, which was 7 percent more than in the same period last year.
Doctors registered record number of new HIV cases last year
Czech doctors last year registered 235 new HIV cases in the country, the highest number on record, the National Institute of Public Health said on Monday. In 2013, 211 men and 24 women contracted the infection which was 23 more than the previous year. Nine people died of AIDS while another six people with HIV died of other cause, the doctors said. Health authorities say diminishing concern about contracting the infection is one of the factors behind the rising numbers of cases.
Czech government scraps bills put forth by previous cabinet
The new centre-left Czech government on Monday scrapped several bills put forth by the previous interim cabinet. The draft legislation that has been withdrawn includes a civil service bill, a bill on army reserve as well as legislation re-introducing fees for hospital stays, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told reporters. Mr Sobotka said that instead of the scrapped civil service legislation, Parliament will debate a Social Democrat bill that was approved by MPs in a first round of debate last month. The Sobotka government, appointed to office by President Zeman last week, is expected to seek confidence in the lower house on February 18th.
Czech economy on recovery path
The Czech economy is showing signs of substantial recovery, the news website ihned.cz reported on Monday. The country’s purchasing managers’ index, based on the volume of new industrial orders, rose by 1.8 points to 55.9 points in January, the highest it has been since May 2011, according to the consultancy Markit Economics. The Czech employment rate, meanwhile, exceeded 68 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, which is the highest level since 1998 says the Czech Statistics Office; the unemployment rate, calculated according to methods by the International Labour Organization, dropped annually by 0.4 percent to 6.8 percent in the same period. Analysts believe the latest figures show a positive outlook for the Czech economy in 2014.
Nearly 29,000 firms established in Czech Republic last year
In related news, over 22.800 new firms were founded in the Czech Republic last year, the highest number in the last three years, according to a study by the Bisnode consultancy released on Monday. The total number of companies increased by 7 percent and exceeded 391,000. Entrepreneurs invested over 25 billion crowns in new companies, 57 percent of which went to share-holder firms. The renewed interest in forming new firms was a sign the Czech economy was recovering, the consultancy firm said.
EU report highlights Czech public procurement issues
The inaugural anti-corruption report released by the European Commission on Monday highlights the Czech Republic’s problems with public procurement and abuse of public funds. Some 95 percent of people consider corruption a widespread phenomenon in the Czech Republic, the report says quoting a survey by the EU’s polling agency Eurobarometer. The report urges the Czech Republic to adopt civil service legislation and to overhaul rules for the financing of political parties. The EU-wide report, says that corruption levels in the bloc are “breathtaking”, costing the European economy at least 120 billion euro each year.
Czech aid to Syria
The Czech Foreign Ministry and NGOs have distributed over 160 million crowns in aid to Syria since the crisis began, the ČTK news agency reported on Monday citing the country’s leading humanitarian organization People in Need. According to People in Need close to 40 percent of the NGO’s aid budget is now going to Syria where the organization operates two offices with the help of 50 local volunteers. The NGO supports 25 schools in the country and distributed daily bread portions to 20,000 people. It also brings aid to refugee camps in surrounding countries such as Turkey.
Blanka Matragi to design new Czech Airline uniforms
The Czech-born, Lebanon-based fashion designer Blanka Matragi will design new uniforms for Czech Airlines and other parts of the Czech Aeroholding, a spokeswoman for the group said on Monday. The state-own firm chose Matragi, who settled in Lebanon in the 1970s, from among 14 designers. The designer will have to respect the firm’s colour scheme dominated by dark blue. Czech Airlines also want the new uniforms to be more conservative than the currently used attires. Czech Airlines flight attendants and other employees should get new uniforms in 2015.
Matragi’s firm fined over destruction of Prague villa
In related news, Prague City Hall fined Matragi Fashion, a firm co-owned by fashion designer Blanka Matragi, over the destruction of a villa in Prague 6 listed as a protected monument, the news agency the head of the city hall’s monument protection department said. ČTK reported. The amount of the fine was not disclosed but could reach two million crowns. The fashion company received permission to renovate the villa, located in the Ořechovka district; however, the building collapsed in the process and was completely removed. The company has filed an appeal against the fine to the Culture Ministry.
Czech internet providers team up against hacking attacks
Czech internet providers have joined forces in order to increase their protection against DoS hacking attacks, one of the providers involved in the project said. The alliance, entitled Safe VLAN, will provide connection to its members facing attacks to ensure their services remain available to clients. Six major providers, including CZ.NIC, Dial Telecom, Seznam.cz and Telefónica Czech Republic have joined the project so far.
President Zeman to spend four days in Sochi
Czech President Miloš Zeman will spend four days at the Olympic Games in Sochi, a spokesman for his office said. Mr Zeman, who will arrive in Sochi on Thursday, will dine with members of the Czech Olympic Team. On Friday, the Czech head of state is set to attend a reception held by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin for foreign officials before attending the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. The president would also like to see a speed skating event during his visit so that he can express support for Czech champion Martina Sáblíková. Other Czech officials who are set to visit the Olympic Games in Sochi include the speakers of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, Milan Štěch and Jan Hamáček, as well as the head of the Czech Roman Catholic church, Cardinal Dominik Duka.
The start of the week should be partially cloudy with daytime highs ranging between -2 and 2 degrees Celsius.