Czech news for April 4: Czech-Slovak PMs talk energy security, Hello bank! says goodbye

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Tuesday, April 4, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 04.04.2023 08:23:00 (updated on 04.04.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

DIPLOMACY Czechia welcomes Finland into NATO

Czechia today welcomes Finland’s accession to NATO – the Nordic country is the organization’s 31st member. Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer border with Russia and has joined to strengthen its protection from any Russian threat.

Minister of Defense in Czechia Jana Černochová tweeted that “[Russian President Vladimir] Putin wanted to prevent NATO’s borders from expanding, and has achieved the exact opposite. We thus gain an important and strong ally.” The Czech army wrote that “we couldn't have asked for a better gift for the anniversary of NATO’s founding.”

EVENT Fire breaks out in Czech observation tower

A sizable fire broke out last night at the 581-meter-high Vlčí hora observation tower in the town of Krásná Lípa, Ústí nad Labem. Town mayor Jan Kolář said that the building next to the tower has completely burnt down.

Total damages are estimated at CZK 2 million. Firefighters posted on social media this morning that they were still extinguishing the fire in the tower, which was built in the 1880s. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire.

POLITICS Czechia to discuss Istanbul Convention by middle of year

The government will in the middle of this year discuss whether to ratify the European Commission's Istanbul Convention on protecting women from violence, according to Deputy Justice Minister Karel Dvořák. Last month, the government had asked to delay discussions by 12 months.

Czechia signed the convention in 2016, but previous governments have all postponed talks on ratification. Government human rights commissioner Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková has called for political debate to start earlier than June or July.

HEALTH Supply of diabetes medicine runs out in Czechia

A type of medicine for diabetes has run out in Czechia and will be unavailable for about two weeks. Ozempic, which is also used as a weight-loss drug, can be replaced by other, similar drugs – however, this requires a new doctor’s prescription.

According to the Ministry of Health, this medicine was originally supposed to be unavailable for a few months. The use of Ozempic has increased rapidly in the past year due to its weight-reduction effects.

EDUCATION Universities say govt. ready to give CZK 900m

The Czech government has agreed to increase the 2023 budget of universities by an additional 900 million crowns, according to the Czech Council of Higher Education Institutions (RVS). The Education Ministry is waiting for information from universities in order to gain arguments to ask for more money to be allocated to them.

Lecturers from humanities and social science programs protested against their low wages last week. They demand an increase in the budget of public universities and measures to make wages equal in all university departments, with more money going mainly to faculties of art and other humanitarian programs.

DIPLOMACY PM FIala: Czechia, Slovakia seek to ensure energy security

The Czech and Slovak governments have discussed ways to enhance energy security and reliable energy supplies to both countries. They have shared the same attitude towards nuclear energy, which they consider to be essential for the energy mix in terms of energy security and environmental goals.

The countries agreed to obtain enough nuclear fuel from non-Russian sources as fast as possible, with Slovakia discussing ways to secure sufficient nuclear fuel from a responsible supplier to ensure a stable supply of electricity to the grid. The Czech Republic and Slovakia have averted an energy crisis, but it is important to think about the future.

economy Hello bank! wraps up activities in Czech Republic

Hello bank! announced today on its website that it stopped offering its Czech clients new products, a first step of its withdrawal from the Czech Republic. In other words, it will no longer open new current and savings accounts, or issue personal loans and credit cards. 

The change will not impact clients in any way, the bank, which is a branch of the foreign bank BNP Paribas Personal Finance, added. Until 2017, Hello bank! operated on the Czech market under the name Cetelem, and its services were mainly personal loans.

politics President Petr Pavel presents team of advisers

President Petr Pavel announced at a press conference at Prague Castle on Monday that his team will include Constitutional judge Jan Kysela, economist David Marek, former pension commission head Vladimír Bezděk, social support expert Lucie Poláková, energy innovation expert Jakub Maščuch, and former environment minister Ladislav Miko.

The leader of the team is entrepreneur Tomas Richter, who was in charge of finances and fundraising during Pavel’s presidential campaign. Pavel also worked with Bezdek, Maščuch, and Poláková in the past. 

Diplomacy Cross-border program supports projects in Czechia and Slovakia

Czech Minister for Regional Development Ivan Bartoš and his Slovak colleague Veronika Remišová told journalists Monday that the first calls for the Interreg Slovakia-Czech Republic cross-border project are this month. According to Remišová, financing can go towards mitigating the effects of climate change, protecting monuments, or the cooperation of municipalities and other institutions.

The Interreg Slovakia-Czech Republic subsidy program, which has a total budget of 107 million euros (2.5 billion crowns), covers the territory of the Zlín, Moravian-Silesian, and South Moravian regions in Czechia, and the Trenčín, Trnava, and Žilina regions in Czechia.

Public transit Metro, trams still not back to pre-pandemic passenger numbers

Trams, buses, and the Prague metro transported 1.8 billion passengers in domestic cities last year, which is the third worst result in at least the past two decades, iDnes reports. The number was still better than those in 2020 and 2021, which were marked by transport restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.

An outlier in the statistics in Karlovy Vary, where public transport had 35 percent fewer passengers due to a plunge in the number of tourists from Russia due to a ban that came into effect last October.

strange encounters Czech driver spots large kangaroo in ditch

The Czech police tweeted that a passing driver spotted a large kangaroo on Sunday near the road ditch in the forest near the I/38 between Doksy and Jestřebí. After receiving the notification, Czech police asked the surrounding zoos if they were missing a kangaroo, but were told they had no kangaroos on the loose.

In 2018, in Hellmonsödt, northern Austria, about 20 kilometers south of Vyšší Brod by the Czech-Austrian border, numerous reports of a kangaroo roaming the forests and meadows and were received by authorities.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more