Czech news for March 10: Czech Chamber of Deputies speaker plans US visit

Top headlines for the Czech Republic for Friday, March 10, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 10.03.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 10.03.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

POLITICS President appoints new environment minister of Czechia

The Czech Republic this afternoon officially got a new minister of environment. After months of waiting, vice chairman of the KDU-ČSL party Petr Hladík was appointed. He was originally intended to assume the position in the fall of last year, but his appointment was delayed due to a police investigation into the fraudulent and corrupt sales of municipal properties in Brno, where Hladík had been a deputy mayor. Former President Miloš Zeman also refused to appoint him due to Hladík’s apparent lack of education in the field.

EVENT Czech ski jumping record holder found dead

Former Czech ski jumper and record holder Antonín Hájek has died at the age of 36, according to the Union of Skiers in the Czech Republic. He had been missing since October and was said to be in Malaysia. The cause of death has not been announced. Hájek holds the record for the furthest ski jump by a Czech, at 235 meters. He also represented Czechia in the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver 2010 and four years later in Sochi.

DIPLOMACY Pavel confirms Poland visit next week

Spokesperson Markéta Řeháková for President Petr Pavel confirmed to journalists today that he would visit Poland in less than a week. Poland will therefore be Pavel’s second foreign destination as president, after visiting Slovakia early next week. Pavel already met with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda in February during the Munich Security Conference where – among other things – they discussed cooperation in support of Ukraine and the development of Czech-Polish shared transport infrastructure. During the February meeting, Pavel promised Duda that Poland would be the second country he visited as president.

DIPLOMACY Czech Chamber of Deputies speaker discusses visit to US

Chamber of Deputies Speaker Markéta Pekarová Adamová today met with new U.S. Ambassador Bijan Sabet to discuss the former’s trip to the U.S. and Taiwan. Adamová expressed thankfulness that the U.S. finally appointed an ambassador after about two years without one. She is due to visit Washington in May, which will include senior politicians and also business representatives. Before that, Adamová will visit Taiwan, which will feature “a delegation of entrepreneurs, representatives of cities, and scientific research and educational organizations.” The pair spoke about this trip because it is of “high interest” to the U.S.

LAW Czech PM understands Pavel's pension deliberation

Prime Minister Petr Fiala has told President Petr Pavel that he respects Pavel’s decision to give his opinion on the current pension-amendment debate only after he has met with opposition members of parliament. The Czech Senate Wednesday evening approved a highly controversial re-evaluation of state pensions. The proposed bill sees monthly pension payments increase by CZK 760, rather than the previously assured CZK 1,770. According to the Ministry of Finance, this would save the state over CZK 15 billion.

ECONOMY Inflation falls slightly in Czechia

A data release today from the Czech Statistical Office shows that year-on-year inflation in Czechia slowed to 16.7 percent in February, from 17.5 percent in January. This was mainly owing to a slowdown in house price growth. Natural-gas prices continued to rise on an annual basis, but slowed from 87 percent in January to 74 percent in February. Last month, the prices of rice rose by 31.9 percent, flour by 36.1 percent, and pork by 31.1 percent year on year.

TrAGEDY Pavel sends condolences to victims of Germany shooting

President Petr Pavel has expressed his sympathy following a shooting in the German city of Hamburg that killed eight people. The incident happened on Thursday night at a prayer hall for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “I was deeply saddened to learn of yesterday's violent attack in the city of Hamburg. On my own behalf and on behalf of the citizens of the Czech Republic, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families of the victims,” wrote Pavel on Twitter.

SPORT Czech baseball team claims win over China

On its debut at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) tournament in Japan, the Czech national baseball team claimed an impressive 8:5 win over China in a group-stage match. This is the first WBC – a tournament featuring 20 national baseball teams, including top-ranked Japan, Chinese Taipei, and the U.S. – since 2017. Australia, South Korea, and Japan are also in Czechia’s group. The Czechs are currently ranked a respectable 15th in the world rankings.

Politics Pavel rules out new security checks on Prague Castle

Czechia’s new President Petr Pavel announced in an interview Thursday that he would not call for new background security checks in Prague Castle (such as investigating wiretapping), given the fact that each audit is costly. According to the president, if there are no more suspicions, an inspection is needless. The Supreme Audit Office has already carried out a check of offices and rooms at Prague Castle before Pavel’s inauguration – something that he had ordered. The results are currently not publicly available.

DIPLOMACY Slovak leaders congratulate Petr Pavel

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Eduard Heger and the country’s President Zuzana Čaputová Thursday congratulated Petr Pavel on his inauguration as the country’s president. Heger noted the tradition that the first visit abroad by a new Czech president is always to Slovakia, with the reverse also being true.

"I am glad that the state that is the closest to Slovakia is headed by a person with whom we have the same values,” Čaputová said. Pavel will meet the Slovak leaders very soon – he is due to visit the country on March 13 and 14.

INAUGURATION Political analysts praise Pavel's inauguration speech

Political scientists praised new Czech President Petr Pavel’s appeal to Czechs during his Thursday inauguration to not give up, to attempt to learn lessons from failures, and to not sink into low spirits.

Stanislav Balík and Ladislav Mrsklas also commented that, unlike his predecessor Miloš Zeman, Pavel had not used his first speech as president to attack his opponents. Balík also mentioned that Pavel tended to talk more about society than politics, and spoke only limited amounts about domestic politics.

PRAGUE Prague mulls investing millions into Stromovka restaurant

Prague’s new councilor Jiří Pospíšil announced Thursday that the Prague city government is considering investing up to another CZK 100 million in the Šlechtova restaurace in Prague’s Stromovka park and the adjacent Kaštanka garden.

Other investments could also be provided by the future owner of the restaurant. Restorative work on the large eatery, housed in a 17th-century building, began at the turn of 2018, though is still incomplete.

CONSUMER NEWS Czechs buy fewer vegetables amid inflation

Over half (58 percent) of all Czechs bought fewer vegetables this winter than in the year before, according to a survey published by financial services firm SS&C. Around the same proportion reported buying less fruit.

Data from the Czech Statistical Office show that the price of vegetables cost 39 percent more to produce in January year on year, having a knock-on effect on consumer prices. The country also risks facing a vegetable shortage at present, which would increase prices further.

FILM Czech cinema fund grants over CZK 60 million for new films

Czechia's State Cinematography Fund has finished distributing CZK 61 million for the production of seven full-length feature films, it announced Thursday. The highest support, CZK 22 million, was given to the film "Franz" by Oscar-winning director Agniezska Holland. Her film will feature fragments from the life and work of novelist Franz Kafka. The fund supported three debuts by directors of internationally acclaimed short films.

TRANSPORT Masarykovo nádraží-Dejvice train halted for two years

Czech Railways spokesperson Petr Pošta Thursday reminded the public that, from Sunday, trains will not run between Prague’s Masarykovo nádraží and Dejvice stations for about two years. This is due to a repair of the track between Bubny and Dejvice. To travel between the stations, people can use tram line 26 or the metro via Dejvice station on metro line A (the green line). The repair of the section between Bubny and Dejvice is part of the widescale modernization of the Kladno - Prague line, which is divided into eight sections. So far, only one has been completed.

Economy Central bank leaves credit-market rate unchanged

The Banking Council of the Czech National Bank (ČNB) has announced that it kept unchanged the rate of the country's countercyclical capital buffer (a policy used by banks to help make sure they have enough money to handle economic downturns) to protect the credit market. Currently, the rate is 2 percent. The ČNB said its decision took into account the current position of the Czech economy in the financial cycle, the extent of credit risks in the balance sheet of the banking sector, and the development of its vulnerability.

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