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Parliament head: Slovak language should be in Czech public media

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Bratislava, Jan 15 (CTK) – More programmes in Slovak should be broadcast by the Czech public media, Radek Vondracek, chairman of the Chamber of Deputies for Prime Minister Andrej Babis’s ANO, said during his visit to Slovakia on Monday.

It was Vondracek’s first foreign trip after his election.

“While Czech is common in Slovakia and Slovak children still understand Czech, the children in the Czech Republic lose the knowledge of the Slovak,” he added.

“In order to maintain the exceptional relations, which are really brotherly and have no parallel in Europe, we have to bring the Slovak language closer to Czech children,” Vondracek told journalists after meeting Bela Bugar, a deputy chairman of the Slovak parliament.

“This need not be just for children. We also spoke various discussion programmes,” he added.

Public Czech Radio’s (CRo) spokesman Jiri Hosna told CTK that the CRo closely cooperates with Slovak partners in the Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS).

“Our memorandum of cooperation includes the possibility of exchanging programmes, of which both sides make use,” Hosna said.

“This year, when the Czech Republic celebrates 100th years from the birth of the [Czechoslovak] republic, we expect to use this possibility to an even far larger extent,” he added.

Vondracek and Bugar spoke about the series of joint Czech-Slovak celebrations on the occasion of Czechoslovakia’ anniversary this year.

Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918.

“We are set to use the year to prove that despite the calm separation, our countries cooperate in such a way that may serve as an example for other countries, including those within the EU,” Bugar said.

The originally planned meeting between Vondracek and the head of the Slovak parliament, Andrej Danko, was cancelled due to Danko’s health problems.

Vondracek also took interest in the order of procedure of the Slovak parliament. Last year, Prime Minister Robert Fico’s coalition approved an amendment to it despite opposition’s protests. It introduced a time limit for deputies’ speech in the debate, banning the use of banners and cell phones by lawmakers in the room.

“Last week, I sent a letter to the chairpersons of all deputy groups saying that I would like to form a working group devoted to the order of procedure,” Vondracek said.

“The two smallest groups have 13 deputies. However, in many cases, the two groups can veto the debate on the inclusion of another point, the third reading of a bill. This veto should be somewhat outweighed, for example by the veto of three, instead of two groups,” Vondracek said.

Vondracek also met Slovak President Andrej Kiska and Fico.

He said Kiska and Fico had discussed the ongoing Czech presidential election and vote of confidence in the new government of Babis.

“We said that the (presidential) election slightly reminds of the Slovak model. We also said the percentage gains looked different. President Milos Zeman had a bigger gain and lead in the first round than it was so in Slovakia. A full comparison is impossible,” Vondracek said.

Businessman Kiska, who had no previous experience in top politics, defeated Fico, originally denoted as the favourite, in 2014.

Zeman gained 38.6 percent and his main rival Jiri Drahos 12 percent less in the first round of the presidential election in the Czech Republic. The second round is to be held in two weeks.

The delegation, which came to Slovakia on Thursday and which includes four deputy chairpersons of the Chamber of Deputies, laid wreathes at the first Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk statue in Bratislava, the memorial to Milan Rastislav Stefanik, one of Czechoslovakia’s founders, and the bust of Alexander Dubcek, the main protagonist of the 1968 Prague Spring movement.

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