In an interview with Czech Position, former head of the Government Office Jan Novák says that during the Czechs’ turn at the helm of the rotating EU Presidency, the budget for staging events fell under then-minister for EU foreign affairs Alexandr Vondra, and that Novák was only responsible for checking legal conformity of contracts drawn up by Vondra’s team.
At first glance, the Czech Republic’s decision to grant a visa to Bohdan Danylyshyn, the former economy minister of Ukraine who faces charges of abuse of power in negotiating state contracts, could been seen damaging bilateral relations. But will it set a legal precedent? Or will realpolitik win out again?
According to ousted State Environment Fund (SFŽP) head Libor Michálek, before he could be appointed to the post by then-Environment Minister Pavel Drobil, he had to be approved by businessman Daneš Zátorský, an ODS ‘godfather’ in North Moravia. Zátorský claims his relationship with Drobil is ‘purely social’ but Czech media speculate there is more to it.
The Czech economy’s competiveness is hampered rather than helped by the public sector, according to a report by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Problems included favoritism and excessive regulatory burden. A further problem is that country is lagging in infrastructure such as roads and Internet connectivity. The analysis will be used to prepare a long-term strategy to improve competitiveness.
Former State Environmental Fund (SFŽP) chief Libor Michálek has revealed to Czech Position in an exclusive interview the mechanisms by which an adviser to Pavel Drobil (Civic Democrats, ODS) — the former Environment Minister who resigned over allegations of corruption — wanted to divert funds to advance Drobil’s career.
In his annual address to the nation, President Klaus expressed support for PM Petr Nečas’ embattled government, despite the corruption scandal with the State Environmental Fund (SFŽP) that forced Environment Minister Pavel Drobil — a close Nečas ally and fellow ODS member — to resign. But Klaus condemned the organized campaign of mass resignations by hospital doctors over pay demands, calling it tantamount to blackmail.
Prague’s new Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda, who has vowed to stamp out corruption in the city’s administration, has rejected claims that a tender for the renovation of Prague’s waste water treatment plant has been rigged in favor of a specific company. Nevertheless, the conditions of the tender appear to at least favor larger companies.
A plan for the Ministry of Defense to add six new Aero Vodochody two-seat L-159 T1 jets to the military’s stockpile may end up costing taxpayers Kč 1.3 billion. However, two similar model jets were just traded away as part of deal to acquire CASA military transport aircraft.
A fund partly supported by the EU is intended to help startup firms put their innovative ideas into action. Some profits from the companies would be plowed back into the fund to keep it going. The risk, of course, is that the innovative ideas won’t pan out in the real world. Teams of experienced experts, however, should help ensure that doesn’t happen.
Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg must provide his subordinates with proper training yet keep costs down: A private university might be the solution. The Diplomatic Academy, a school for the professional advancement of Czech experts at the Foreign Ministry, annually provides training for approximately 40 employees. The ministry is now preparing a plan to outsource part of its education program.
Reporter for ČESKÁ POZICE. He specializes in diplomacy, security policy, European integrations and politics in the Czech Republic. He studied at the Philosophical Faculty and the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, later working in the European Commission for the foundation Ano pro Evropu (Yes for Europe) and as a reporter for the weekly Euro.