Czechia to back EU ban on Russian oil import with postponement

Plus: Babiš talks biofuels for two hours, Slovakia and Hungary reject sanctions, and a squeamish nature photo takes a top Czech prize. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 04.05.2022 08:28:00 (updated on 05.05.2022) Reading time: 4 minutes

15:05 Czechia to back EU ban on Russian oil import with postponement

Czechia is prepared to support the ban on Russian oil imports to the European Union if it gets a postponement by two to three years until the oil pipeline capacity is increased, Prime Minister Petr Fiala told reporters after his cabinet's meeting today. The Czech government is trying to achieve a postponement of the ban by two to three years, and then it will be ready to back the sixth package of EU sanctions against Russia, Fiala added. "We need the solidarity of European countries for Europe to get rid of its energy dependence on Russia," PM said.

The European Commission (EC) proposed a complete ban on the imports of Russian oil to the EU by the year's end. All EU member states must approve the sanctions unanimously to take effect. Neighboring Slovakia has a similar stance as the Czech Republic.

14:55 Czechia's unemployment lowest in EU

The unemployment rate in the European Union fell to 6.2 percent in March, which is a tenth of a percentage point less than in February. According to Eurostat, the Czech Republic had the lowest unemployment rate (2.3 percent), followed by Germany (2.9 percent) and Poland (three percent). In contrast, the largest share of the unemployed was in Spain (13.5 percent), Greece (12.9 percent), and Italy (8.3 percent).

Unemployment among young people under the age of 25 has also decreased slightly, although unemployment in this age group has remained above the overall average for a long time. From 14 percent in February in the EU and the eurozone, this figure fell to 13.9 percent.

13:50 Blažek to debate war crime in Ukraine prosecution in Hague

Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blažek is to leave for the Hague within two weeks to debate details of joint steps in the prosecution of war crimes committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, he told reporters before the government meeting today. Blazek also said he expected the war crimes committed during the current military aggression in Ukraine to be also one of the topics of the upcoming Czech EU presidency in the second half of this year.

POLITICS Session at lower house lasts for over eight hours

Tuesday's special session of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament, continued for more than eight hours with lawmakers discussing the first topic of the agenda, a draft concerning administrative support for renewable energy sources. Former PM Andrej Babiš gave a speech lasting for over two hours. Also on the agenda are the cancellation of EET, postal voting for Czech citizens living abroad, and the end of pandemic alert. Currently, a controversial proposal to reduce state healthcare payments is being debated.

ukraine Slovakia, Hungary will not support EU sanctions for Russian power

Slovakia and Hungary will not support the sanctions the EU has been preparing to restrict Russian energy export in reaction to Russia's aggression against Ukraine, Slovak and Hungarian representatives announced today.

Both countries are too dependent on the Russian supplies and there are no immediate alternatives for them, the AFP agency wrote. The European Commission (EC) drafted new sanctions that may entail a progressive embargo on imported Russian oil. The EU states may start discussing the EC propositions on Wednesday, but it may take several days before the measures will come into practice.

ECONOMY Crown strengthened against euro and dollar

After weakening on Monday, the crown reversed direction and strengthened against both major world currencies, strengthening against the euro by 24.65 CZK/EUR. Against the dollar, it traded at 23.40 CZK/USD. The Prague Stock Exchange was strengthened, helped by shares of Erste, Komerční banks, and ČEZ.

"The crown will probably stay close to its current levels until Thursday's CNB meeting," said Komerční banka analyst Jana Steckerová. According to estimates by economists, the CNB Board is likely to raise interest rates by 0.5 percentage point on Thursday. The rate would rise to 5.5 percent, the highest since 1999.

Travel New flight connection between Saudi Arabia and Prague

Saudi air carrier Flynas has introduced a new route from Riyadh, the country’s capital, to Prague. Launched on April 24, it operates on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays using A320neos. This isn’t the first time Riyadh and the Czech capital have been connected non-stop. Between June-September 2016 to 2018, carrier Czech Airlines flew the route. The airline is reportedly planning to add additional routes to Prague.

CULTURE Czech Nature Photo of the Year awarded

A photo called "Tadpoles" has won the Czech Nature Photo of the Year prize. The photo was chosen among 250 participants, who submitted almost 2,300 photos. Photographer Vít Lukáš has been awarded the prize several times in previous years. The photo won first place in the category of the best photograph of Czech nature and was also chosen by the readers of a Czech magazine devoted to nature.

The announcement of the results took place at a ceremony in the Czech Photo Center on May 3. The exhibition of more than a hundred awarded and selected Czech Nature Photos will be open to the public from May 4 to September 4.

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