Czech daily news roundup: Monday, Feb. 14, 2022

Czech Foreign Minister isolates with Covid, new inflation data published today, and carnival procession returns to Vodňany after two decades. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 14.02.2022 09:23:00 (updated on 14.02.2022) Reading time: 5 minutes

16:24 Czechia ready to send police to Slovak-Ukrainian border

The Czech Interior Ministry is ready to send humanitarian aid and a police contingent to the Slovak-Ukrainian border if Slovakia asks for its help, a ministry spokesperson has announced. The Czech police contingent would help protect the border as they did during previous migration crises in North Macedonia and Hungary. Simultaneously, the ministry released data showing that out of 3,608 applications for international asylum from Ukrainians in the period from 2014-2021, since the annexation of Crimea by Russia, 55 people were granted full asylum and another 404 were granted temporary refuge.

15:45 Pensions to rise significantly in June

The average old-age pension will rise by 8.2 percent in June, with retirees set to receive an average of CZK 1,017 more per month, according to Minister for Labor and Social Affairs Marian Jurečka. The pension boost is the result of a re-valuing of pensions in response to inflation, which hit 9.9 percent in January. Jurečka said the government as a whole will discuss the Ministry's proposal in the coming days. Pensions already rose by CZK 805 in January, meaning a total increase of CZK 1822 on average if the new proposal is approved.

15:37 First part of US army convoy to arrive in Czechia tomorrow

The first part of a U.S. army convoy to pass through the Czech Republic over the coming days will arrive in the country tomorrow, at Rozvadov in the Plzeň region. A total of six convoys will pass through the Czech Republic over the coming days, on their way to training exercises in Slovakia. Equipment including Stryker wheeled armored personnel carriers will travel along the Czech motorways at large intervals, so as not to disrupt the flow of traffic. They will leave Rozvadov for Rančířov in the Jihlava area, where a rest station has been set up by the Czech army. They will then depart the country at the Břeclav border crossing with Slovakia. Each U.S. convoy will spend no more than 48 hours in the country.

11:48 Czech embassy offices in Ukraine to remain open

Czech embassy offices in Kiev and Lviv, Ukraine, will continue operating, according to the Czech Foreign Ministry. A crisis meeting of Foreign Ministry staff was held this morning led by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of the Ukraine working group Martin Dvořák. The meeting also discussed the possible provision of humanitarian aid to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion. Family members of Czech embassy staff in Kiev have already left the country, but more than 20 employees will remain, and another 30 at the consulate general in Lviv, in Western Ukraine.

10:50 CSA will not interrupt flights from Prague to Kyiv

Czech Airlines (CSA) will not interrupt the operation of its airline from Prague to Kyiv. The carrier wants to further monitor the security situation in Ukraine and will react if it worsens. According to information from Prague Airport, the carrier canceled scheduled flights for Feb. 18, 21, and 23 over the weekend. Even without these connections, however, CSA continues to offer tickets in its system for a total of six flights from the Czech Republic to Ukraine during this week, and flights scheduled for the end of February are also on sale. There have been warnings in the worldwide media in recent days that Ukraine is in danger of actually being cut off from air traffic due to fears of a Russian invasion. 

Foreign Affairs Czech Foreign Minister Lipavský isolating with Covid

As tensions on the international stage soar over Ukraine, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský has reported a positive Covid test, forcing him to work from home over the coming days. If Lipavský cannot conduct necessary negotiations online, he will have to be replaced by his deputies.

The crisis at the Ukrainian-Russian border is the remit of a Foreign Ministry working group led by Martin Dvořák. According to media reports, Lipavský tested positive for Covid on Friday. Over the weekend, the Foreign Ministry issued repeated warnings about travel to Ukraine, and advised Czechs already in the country to leave.

Inflation New inflation data for January published

The Czech Statistical Office has published inflation data for January. As analysts expected, inflation leapt to 9.9 percent, compared to 6.6 percent in December. The sharp increase is the result of an increase in energy prices and the resumption of VAT payments for energy last month, as well as the usual adjustment of consumer goods prices with the start of the new year.

The last time annual inflation in the Czech Republic was above 10 percent was in July 1998. Some economists feared double-digit figures could be seen this month too, as a result of last month’s specific combination of inflationary pressures.

Masopust Carnival procession returns to Vodňany after two decades

A traditional "Masopust" carnival parade returned to the town of Vodňany in the Strakonice region for the first time in over 20 years this weekend. The carnival was attended by several hundred participants, and included decorated horse-drawn carriages with musicians.

The last time the Vodňany carnival took place was in 2001. The initiative to restore the event was led by local citizen Karel Burda, after a Mikuláš day celebration last year revived the town’s carnival tradition. The carnival isn’t celebrated on the same day every year, but moves similarly to Easter; key features include a bear, as a symbol of prosperity and abundance, and a bride and groom as symbols of family happiness. Similar traditional carnivals took place at the weekend in other South Bohemian localities, including Nesměn and Písek, and more are scheduled throughout the country during the rest of February.

Prices Czechia is the world’s fourth most expensive country for electric cars

The Czech Republic is heavily dependent on its automotive industry, but when it comes to making electric cars mainstream, the country is lagging behind. New data from the price comparison website shows that the Czech Republic is the fourth most expensive country in the world for buying an electric car.

The portal used the Tesla Model 3 vehicle as its comparator for electric car affordability. The cheapest country in which to buy the vehicle was Macau, followed by China. France was fifth, Norway was sixth, and the United States came in ninth place. Alongside the Czech Republic as the fourth most expensive country to buy the car, the top 10 priciest countries include Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.

EU Czechia is underrepresented in EU institutions

According to a new study by European Democracy Consulting, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe are underrepresented in EU institutions, and have been for a long time. The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania are disadvantaged compared to western and southern Europe, from which 70 percent of new leadership positions were filled between 2019 and 2021.

The problem with Czech underrepresentation is well-known, and a strategy aimed at boosting the Czech presence in EU institutions was created in 2015. It’s claimed the lack of Czech nationals in high EU positions could mean Czech interests are sidelined in discussions; while some local commentators have claimed the “modesty” of people from Eastern Europe puts them at a disadvantage in fighting for positions of power compared to people from Western Europe.

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