President Zeman visits troops in Afghanistan
President Miloš Zeman is visiting Czech troops stationed in Afghanistan, the first Czech head of state to do so. Mr Zeman, who arrived in Kabul on Friday, has also met with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. The Czech president visited military installations in Kabul and Bagram where handed out parcels with Czech food products and films. Mr Zeman is set to return to the Czech Republic on Sunday.
There are more than 260 Czech soldiers serving in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s ISAF mission who are set to withdraw later this year, along with other allied troops. Mr Zeman was scheduled to visit the troops at the end of last year but had to postpone the visit due to health issues.
Greens re-elect chairman Ondřej Liška
Ondřej Liška was re-elected chairman of the Green Party at the party’s congress in Prague on Saturday. Liška, who has led the party since 2009, received 125 out of 198 votes. The 36-year-old former education minister said the party should focus on May’s European eletions, followed by local elections in October. He also suggested the Greens form a team of spokesperosns for key policy areas. The Green Party failed to reach the lower house of parliament in 2010 and 2013 but two senators were elected on the paty’s ballot in 2012.
Public Affairs elect new leader
Jiří Kohout was on Saturday elected new chairman of Public Affairs, a former coalition party that failed to win seats in the lower house of Parliament in October’s general election. Mr Kohout replaces Vít Bárta, the grouping’s founder, who stepped down last year over police investigation of his business activities. The new chairman said he considered his role as that of a crisis manager who should improve the party’s reputation.
Public Affairs won around 10 percent of the vote in the 2010 general election, running on promises of clean politics. The party joined a coalition government along with the Civic Democrats and TOP 09 but was rocked by a prolonged series of scandals and infighting.
Greens to choose new leadership
The Green Party holding a congress in Prague on Saturday and Sunday which will elect new chair and other party officials. The group’s current leader, Ondřej Liška, is running for re-election, competing for the post with Petr Štěpánek, the head of the party’s organization in Prague. The Greens failed to enter the lower house of Parliament in two consecutive elections; last October, they won 3.2 percent of the vote.
Senate likely to approve Macedonia’s EU talks
The Czech Senate is likely to approve the start of talks on Macedonia’s accession to the EU, the news agency ČTK reported on Saturday. The proposal has been passed by the Senate’s EU affairs committee; Senators are scheduled to vote on the motion next week. The upper chamber of the Czech Parliament is also expected to call for a new dynamics of Turkey’s accession to the 28-member bloc, the agency said.
Incoming minister ponders Czech food quotas
The incoming agriculture minister, Marian Jurečka of the Christian Democrats, is considering introducing quotas for Czech food products in supermarkets. Under the proposal, retail chains would have to offer a certain share of locally-produced foodstuffs, Mr Jurečka told reporters on Friday, adding he was planning to visit Slovakia to learn more about their system of food products origin declaration. The incoming minister also noted the legislation would have to undergo thorough legal scrutiny to comply with EU law.
Study: children spend much longer at PCs and TV than playing sports
Czech children spend three times as long at computers than exercising and playing sports, according to a new study by the Czech Amateur Sporting Association released on Saturday. The survey, conducted among nearly 2,200 elementary and secondary school pupils, also found that children spend twice as long watching TV than exercising. Around 22 percent of the pupils said they played sports during last year’s summer holidays while 21 percent of them said they did not engage in any physical activity at all.
Dozens of fish die in Prague aquarium
Around 30 fish have died in the Sea World aquarium in Prague, a spokesman for Prague police said. Another 20 fish are at serious risk. The cause of the incident is under investigation; a technical problem or poisoning are being considered as possible causes according to media reports. The aquarium, located in Prague’s exhibition area in Holešovice, features around 3,500 fish and annually attracts some 120,000 visitors.
Overnight temperatures drop to -15 degrees
Temperatures dropped as low as -15 degrees Celsius in north and northeast Czech Republic on Friday night. The lowest temperature of -17.7 degrees was recorded at the Lysá hora mountain in Beskydy, north Moravia, meteorologists said. Strong frost is expected in most parts of the country on Saturday night before a spell of warmer weather arrives next week.
The weekend will be cold, with partially cloudy skies, snow in places and daytime highs ranging between -2 and -6 degrees Celsius.