Czech daily news roundup: Friday, December 17, 2021

Government change takes place today, cost of mortgages continues to rise, controversy erupts over Czech Radio appointment. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 17.12.2021 09:36:00 (updated on 18.12.2021) Reading time: 7 minutes

23:11 New interior minister vows better crisis management

Crisis management will be one of the essential tasks of the Interior Ministry, new Czech Interior Minister Vít Rakušan told journalists on Friday. The central crisis staff, headed by the interior minister, should be a decision-making institution, Rakušan said after being inaugurated by new Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala. Rakušan was the first new minister to be inaugurated after President Miloš Zeman appointed the new government.

"We are coming to the Interior Ministry at a moment when Covid is not behind us," said Rakušan. "We, the government, are facing one major task: crisis management that in the past two years has left the legal definition. New bodies have been built such as the Government Health Risks Council and the like."

22:09 New Czech PM inaugurates first seven cabinet ministers

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala inaugurated the first seven members of his new government on Friday. Vít Rakušan (STAN) has been named First Deputy PM and Interior Minister; Marian Jurečka (Christian Democrats) Labour Minister; Ivan Bartoš (Pirates) Regional Development Minister; Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09) Health Minister; Zbyněk Stanjura (ODS) Finance Minister, Jozef Síkela (STAN) Industry and Trade Minister; and Pavel Blažek (ODS) Justice Minister.

21:20 Outgoing PM Babiš leaves letter to successor Fiala

Outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš gave a letter to his successor Petr Fiala upon leaving office as he wants to establish a new tradition similar to the one held by U.S. presidents, Babiš said at his final press conference in office on Friday. Fiala told journalists later in the evening that due to his tight working schedule, he had not yet read the letter.

"I want to establish a tradition like the U.S. presidents, who always leave some message [to their successor]. I have written a letter to PM Fiala," Babiš said, adding that he did not intend to publish it.

"Babiš has left a letter on the table. This is the creation of a new tradition, but I cannot tell you whether anything in it has attracted my attention because I have not yet read it," Fiala said.

21:00 Gripen aircraft fly over Central Bohemia in Christmas tree formation

Pilots of six Czech fighter planes flew in the Christmas-tree formation above the Czech Republic this afternoon during their training flight, General Staff spokeswoman told CTK today. In the air, the fighters created a V-shape that looked like a Christmas tree.


The military tweeted that the planes took off in Caslav, Cental Bohemia, and flew over East Bohemia's Pardubice and Podebrady to Prague. They flew above the Government Office approximately at the time when the new government held its first meeting, which was just a coincidence, Dvorakova said. The planes were originally to fly over Brno, too, but they changed the itinerary due to worsening weather conditions.

13:25 Arrest of former Slovak Prime Minister Fico confirmed

Slovak police confirmed that former Prime Minister and head of the opposition Social Democrat party Robert Fico was arrested yesterday. Fico stands accused of inciting people to commit the criminal offense of gathering in groups of more than six, by calling a public demonstration at a time when they are not allowed due to anti-Covid restrictions in Slovakia. He was released from custody in the evening. Fico was arrested after calling for a protest in Bratislava against Covid restrictions; around fifty people came to the protest ad when Fico got out of his car, he was promptly arrested by law enforcement officers.

13:18 EC President von der Leyen congratulates new Czech PM

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen congratulated new Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala on today’s appointment of his new government on Twitter, saying she looked forward to their cooperation. "I'm looking forward to working with you in our joint fight against the pandemic and for the success of the Next Generation (fund) in the Czech Republic and a lasting, green recovery in Europe," she tweeted. Czechia is set to receive CZK 180 billion from this fund if it meets the EC's conditions The country may start drawing a substantial part of this money next year.

12:50 Czech who died in London was not murdered, say police

The Czech nurse whose body was found in a London park last week was not murdered, according to London’s metropolitan police. The confirmation followed an earlier statement from British authorities that the circumstances of 32-year-old Petra Srncová’s death were not deemed to be suspicious. Srncová disappeared for two weeks before her body was discovered by children in Brunswick Park in the Camberwell district of south London. A man who was detained in connection with the case was later released on bail pending further investigations of the case.

10:00 EU debate on energy crisis inconclusive, says Babiš

Andrej Babiš’s last act as Czech PM on Thursday saw him debate the current energy crisis at an EU summit in Brussels. Babiš asked for the return of carbon allowances to the trading markets to alleviate energy pressures, and also pressed for the inclusion of nuclear energy as a valid “green investment,” to help the Czech Republic meet its climate commitments. Yet leaders were apparently unable to reach agreement on either topic; Babiš said he was “sorry that my last (European) Council ended like this.” Babiš noted, however, that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen previously promised to include nuclear power as well as gas on the list of viable energies to replace coal.

Transfer of power Babiš departs as Prime Minister today

Today marks the end of Andrej Babiš’s tenure as Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. Babiš’s government is handing over power to the new regime led by Petr Fiala following the ceremonial appointment of the ministers in Fiala’s cabinet throughout the morning.

After a final press conference by the outgoing government, the 69-day wait for the new government to take over since the election on October 8-9 will come to an end, with Petr Fiala’s new cabinet to appear in front of journalists for the first time at 13:45. Covid is leading to some slight complications in the handover; the candidate for Minister of Agriculture, Zdeněk Nekula, is in self-isolation so his post will be temporarily given to another minister.

Economy Cost of Czech mortgages continues to rise

The average mortgage interest rate in the Czech Republic increased to 2.70% in November, from 2.54% in October. This was the ninth success rise in the average rate. Data on the development of Czech mortgage prices was published by Fincentrum Hypoindex.

Despite the rise in interest rates, the data suggests interest in mortgages is not slowing down. Last month, banks arranged mortgages worth CZK 37.2 billion, an increase of CZK 5.1 billion on October. 11,369 separate mortgage loans were made, 13% more than in October and 22% more than in the same month last year. Analysts predict that the average interest rate will continue to rise in the months ahead. 

Media Controversy erupts over Czech Radio appointment

Over 300 employees of Czech Radio have called on general director René Zavoral to cancel the appointment of Jitka Obzinová as the head of the radio station’s news department. Critics say Obzinová manipulated the news and lacked impartiality in her previous role as news director at TV Prima.

Obzinová is said to have imposed an anti-immigrant slant on news reports about illegal migration at TV Prima. It is also alleged that she enforced a stance in support of Miloš Zeman during the election campaign preceding his first presidential term. Zavoral said he would assess the complaints of employees; the Czech national committee of the International Press Institute and Endowment Fund for Independent Journalism called on the general director to resign

Climate change Czech Republic is one of Europe’s ten worst CO2 emitters

A study by Dublin-based emissions monitoring start-up CarbonSpace found that ten countries are responsible for 92% of Europe’s carbon footprint. One of the ten offending countries is the Czech Republic, in ninth place for total emissions and third place for emissions per capita.

Germany emits the most CO2 of any European nation, followed by the United Kingdom, Italy and France. But a different picture emerges when the level of emissions per capita is evaluated: on this criteria, Belgium tops the list, followed by the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. The results of the survey come as Europe grapples with an energy crisis resulting in price hikes and bankruptcies of suppliers.

Czech film Karlovy Vary film festival deepens cooperation with online streamer

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, within its parent company the KVIFF Group, has become the majority owner of Aerofilms, a major distributor of independent movies connected to a network of art cinemas and operating the Czech equivalent of Netflix for art films, called Aerovod.

The company’s acquisition by the KVIFF Group will see content connected with a special project in Karlovy Vary, which started this summer as part of the festival. The festival’s shareholders are looking to diversify its portfolio; beyond the festival itself taking place next year in early July, an online video library will be created allowing experiences to take place outside the confines of the annual event.

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