Czech morning news roundup: Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Foreign Minister says digital technology leadership is key, Pražská plynarenská raises prices, homeless shelters switch to winter mode.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 01.12.2021 09:20:00 (updated on 01.12.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

Lead story Digital technology leadership is key, says Foreign Minister

Czech Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek described leadership in new digital technologies as vital for Europe at a the two-day Czernin Security Forum. Kulhánek meanwhile stressed the need for a human rights-based approach to the use of such new technologies.

According to the Foreign Minister, digital technology has become the main geopolitical battleground of China and the United States. Kulhánek therefore believes Europe must keep up in setting standards, by building partnerships with allies such as the U.S.A. The theme of this year’s Czernin Security Forum, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Prague’s Institute of International Relations, NATO and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, is Europe’s adaptation to cyberspace in the new decade.

Energy Gas crisis hits home as Pražská plynarenská raise prices

Utilities provider Pražská plynarenská will increase the price of gas in its basic price list by an average of 7.3% at the end of the year. Customers with fixed price deal will not be affected by the price hike, which, according to the company, is being driven by sharp increases in gas prices on wholesale markets unprecedented in recent years.

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Pražská plynarenská is one of the Czech Republic’s largest energy suppliers, bringing gas and electricity to around 425,000 clients. The company is controlled by the city of Prague. It’s thought the price increase announced by the company while mainly affected low-consumption customers who only use gas in low quantities, such as for cooking. Other companies are also planning price increases: Pražská teplárenská announced an increase in heating costs for customers, ČEZ will raise the price of electricity supplies from the New Year, and E.ON customers will see price increases.

Welfare Homeless shelters in Prague switch to winter mode

Prague will provide shelter for around 500 homeless people in dormitories and similar facilities over the winter, with the city’s homeless shelters switching to their extended winter operating mode today. Capacities will increase and the operating hours of day centers will also be extended. Homeless people will also be able to be vaccinated in the facilities.

Local councilors say using humanitarian help as an opportunity to boost the immunity of homeless people through vaccination is important, with vaccines being offered on arrival at shelters. It’s thought the vaccine coverage of Prague’s homeless population is around ten to fifteen percent, although the exact number of homeless people in the city is hard to determine. Similar to last winter, social services are taking careful steps to prevent infection in homeless shelters, with two special housing facilities for homeless people suffering from Covid or needing to self-isolate.

International relations Head of Belarusian football detained in Prague

Czech police have detained the Chairman of the Football Federation of Belarus for breaching Covid-19 rules by entering the country without permission. It’s thought Vladimir Bazanov and his wife entered the Czech Republic to attend a women’s World Cup qualifier between the Czech Republic and Belarus.

The pair reportedly hold Italian-issued Schengen visas which would allow them to visit the Czech Republic. But Bazanov is also on a sanctions list of the EU’s Baltic states, supported by the Czech Republic. The sanctions are part of a serious of moves by the EU to put financial pressure on the authoritarian regime of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

History National Bank issues giant collectors’ coin for the founding of Greater Prague

The Czech National Bank has issued a giant commemorative silver coin to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Greater Prague. Weighing one kilogram, with a diameter of 10 centimeters and a face value of CZK 10,000, the coin is the second largest and heaviest ever issued by the ČNB. It was designed by sculptor Zbyněk Fojtů. The unified municipality of Greater Prague was established on January 1, 1922, with the city newly divided into 13 districts.

The largest and heaviest coin ever issued by the bank remains the gold coin issued in 2019, with a nominal value of CZK 100 million. The real price of such coins can differ though, depending on fluctuations in the value of the precious metal used, production costs and other factors. The new silver coin can be purchased from selected partners: on the website of the Czech Mint, it can be bought for CZK 34,990. The coin is available in two versions: 5,800 have been issued in the highest quality with a highly polished finish, while 2,300 others are in a standard design.

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