Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for October 13, 2021

Castle to comment on post-election talks, Babiš says President will ask him to form a new government, Delta Airlines to resume Prague-New York flights. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 13.10.2021 09:20:00 (updated on 13.10.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Senate demands information about Zeman’s health, Castle to comment

Czech Senate Chairman Miloš Vystrčil (ODS) will formally ask the head of the President’s Office for information on the medical prognosis of President Miloš Zeman as he remains in hospital. Prague’s Central Military Hospital said Zeman had not given permission for details of his diagnosis to be made public. But Senators are concerned that Zeman is unable to perform his important function in post-election negotiations due to his hospitalization.

Today, the Castle is expected to comment on how Zeman will proceed in forming a new government. According to the President’s spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček, Zeman is communicating, monitoring the political situation and familiarizing himself with the latest events following the election.

Babiš claims President will ask him to form a government

Current Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) claimed that when he met President Miloš Zeman shortly before his hospitalization on Sunday, the President said he would first approach Babiš to form a new government. At the same time, though, Babiš admitted that his ANO party may end up in opposition after the victory of the SPOLU coalition in elections at the weekend. Babiš said it is his choice whether or not to accept the task of forming a new government promised by Zeman.

Babiš said ANO “will definitely not hamper any democratic processes and we will behave in a constructive way.” He spoke for around 30 minutes with the President at Zeman’s residence in Lány, near Prague, on Sunday. Babiš said after the elections he approached Petr Fiala, leader of the Civic Democrats and the SPOLU coalition, with an offer to start talks on forming an ANO-ODS government, but Fiala declined.

Delta Airlines to resume direct connection with Prague

U.S. air carrier Delta Airlines will resume direct flights from Prague to New York’s JFK Airport, starting on May 26, 2022. The summer flight schedule will see a Boeing 767-300 aircraft flying on the route up to seven times a week. Prague Airport said that Prague-New York was one of the most popular long-haul routes operated from the Czech capital before the pandemic, with more than 70,000 passengers making the journey every year.

CzechTourism said the resumption of a direct air connection with the USA will be crucial for the resumption of in-bound tourism. The development comes as a result of relaxed travel rules in both the Czech Republic and the U.S.A., with U.S. authorities recently announcing that the country would re-open to travelers from Europe.

Finance Minister Schillerová to be new ANO parliamentary chief

Finance Minister Alena Schillerová will replace Jaroslav Faltýnek as the new parliamentary head for ANO. Faltýnek did not seek re-election in the role, and was instead re-elected as the group’s deputy head. ANO will have the largest group of MPs following elections which they nonetheless lost, in terms of the number of votes, to the SPOLU coalition. ANO’s parliamentary group has decreased from 78 to 72 MPs.

Alena Schillerová head the ANO party’s list of candidates in South Moravia, receiving almost 23,000 preferential votes. A number of party meetings were held yesterday in the leaders of parliamentary groups were decided. The ODS group will be headed by Zbyněk Stanjura, forming part of an expected new government comprising the SPOLU and Pirates+STAN electoral coalitions.

Parliamentary commission to examine Babiš‘s real estate purchases

The House Commission for the Control of the Activities of the Financial Analytical Office (FAU) will today examine allegations against Prime Minister Andrej Babiš made in the Pandora Papers. Babiš is alleged to have sent around CZK 380 million through a system of offshore companies in order to buy luxury real estate on the French Riviera. The Chairman of the Commission wants to examine whether the Financial Analytical Office failed to perform its duties relating to the affair in the past, as published information suggests the French authorities drew the FAU’s attention to suspicious activity.

Babiš rejects all claims of impropriety surrounding his purchase of French properties. He claims the money he spent was properly taxed and that he followed a real estate agency’s recommendations when making the purchase. Some have claimed Babiš actions bear the hallmarks of criminal offences including money laundering and fraud.

"Havel's Place" opened in Brussels near European Parliament

The legacy of Czech President Václav Havel has been commemorated in Brussels near the headquarters of the European Parliament with a new "Havel's Place," consisting of two chairs and a round table with a tree in the middle. The Czech Ambassador to Belgium said the new commemorative spot would be a place for citizens and politicians to meet and talk.

It is hoped that the forthcoming Czech EU presidency will allow opportunities for the space to be used to foster debate and healthy argument. The monument is similar to one unveiled in Prague in 2014, a decade after the country's accession to the EU. Other "Havel's Places" are located in Washington, Dublin, Barcelona, Venice, Tel Aviv and Oxford.

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