Czech morning news in brief: top headlines for May 24, 2021

Decision to be made with regards to Health Minister Arenberger, Tuesday blockade planned for Czech-Polish border, Night of Churches begins later this week. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 24.05.2021 09:17:00 (updated on 24.05.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czech PM to decide on health minister's fate this week

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš will decide on Czech Health Minister Petr Arenberger's continued presence in the government on Tuesday, Babiš told Czech Television this weekend. The PM said he has not yet reviewed the documents on Arenberger's property but has discussed the issue with President Miloš Zeman. Last week, doubts emerged about Arenberger's property statements. The media wrote that after his recent appointment as minister, he stated a far bigger property and many times higher incomes than in previous years. Babiš said Arenberger committed an offense but has redressed his mistake, and must explain the information about his property in detail. According to Seznam Zpravy, Arenberger owns a farm complex north of Prague, and that one of the buildings hosts the Prague-Vinohrady hospital's archive. Arenberger admits no wrongdoing.

Polish activists to block Czech border over coal-mining debate

On Tuesday, protesters in Poland are planning a blockade of the Czech-Poland border crossing in Hrádek nad Nisou. Poland has not yet stopped mining the Turów lignite mine near the Czech border, contradicting Friday's decision by the EU Court of Justice ordering the immediate cessation of mining. The Czech Republic argues that continued mining could impact the level of groundwater in the Czech territory leading to serious damage to the environment and human health. Poland opposed the measure, saying that mining creates thousands of jobs. The European Commission has called on Poland to comply with the mining ban or face heavy fines. Local mining unions are preparing the first protests against the cessation of mining on Monday. The Turów mine is one of the largest lignite deposits in Poland. It is located between Bogatina, Poland, Zittau, Germany, and Hrádek nad Nisou. It mainly supplies the neighboring power plant owned by the PGE group.

Weekend motorboat fire breaks out on Prague's riverfront

A motorboat fire at a dock on Prague's Podolské nábřeží Saturday caused estimated damage by of CZK 700,000. The hull of the ship was severely damaged by fire and the vessel sank into the Vltava. Only a part of the wreckage was pulled ashore on Saturday, the rest was removed on Sunday afternoon according to a spokesperson for Prague's fire brigade. Firefighters responded to the fire on Saturday at 19:00. There were several tanks on-site, firefighters foam to extinguish the fire, and "sorption snakes" were placed around the vessel to prevent oil from leaking onto the surface of the Vltava. The cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Night of Churches to take place across Czech Republic

The Night of Churches, during which the gates of churches, temples, and prayer houses open during the evening and at night, will take place this coming Friday, May 28. In the 13th year of the event, over 280 buildings will open in the Prague Archdiocese, and more than 1,000 sacred spaces will welcome visitors throughout the country. The theme of this year's Church Night is ecology. The exact conditions of organization and participation in the event will depend on the current government measures against the spread of coronavirus, organizers say. The event has been held in Vienna since 2005. It was probably created by accident when a year earlier a churchgoer left a Viennese church open the door while cleaning and passers-by entered the church with interest. Church Night also takes place annually in Slovakia, Estonia, and, since 2016, Switzerland. This year an app will guide visitors through the program. Visit the Noc Kostelu website for full details.

Czech foreign ministry backs Albania's bid for EU accession

Foreign ministers of the Czech Republic, Austria, and Slovenia see no reason to postpone EU accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia, they said upon arrival to Albania, the second leg of a joint trip devoted to EU enlargement by Balkan states, over the weekend. All three said there they were for North Macedonia's EU membership and that without the six Western Balkan countries, European integration is not complete. The first inter-governmental talks may be held in June. In July, Slovenia will adopt the EU presidency. However, Bulgaria is blocking accession talks because North Macedonia rejected to acknowledge that its national identity and language had Bulgarian roots, which Bulgaria demanded. 

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