Czech news for March 2: President Zeman holds one of his last official diplomatic meetings

The top headlines in brief for the Czech Republic on Thursday, March 2, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 02.03.2023 10:15:00 (updated on 02.03.2023) Reading time: 4 minutes

SOCIETY Czechs did not drink less during 'Dry February'

“Dry February” – a campaign to encourage stopping alcohol consumption for the whole month – was not all that dry in the Czech Republic. A survey of grocery stores in the country revealed that the demand for alcohol at some sellers actually increased in the past month. Supermarket Billa sold more beer, wine, and spirits in February 2023 than in the year-earlier period. The Penny retail chain also reported an increase in sales of up to 20 percent for certain alcoholic beverages.

LEGISLATION Government calls vote in lengthy pension debate

In a new development in the government’s ongoing pension-reform debate, the Czech Chamber of Deputies will this evening vote on whether to expedite voting on the reform. This, significantly, follows a proposal by opposition member of parliament Patrik Nacher, from the ANO movement. ANO is against the government’s plans to reduce the amount given to pensioners from June. The convening of the vote has angered another opposition party, Freedom and Direct Democracy, which is also against the bill and wants to continue debate.

AGRICULTURE Nationwide poultry ban lifted

Czechia has finally lifted its ban on outdoor poultry breeding – it had been in place for two and a half months. Imposed due to a rapid spread of bird flu in the country toward the end of last year, significantly fewer cases of the flu means that the ban can now safely be lifted, according to the  State Veterinary Administration. Over a million hens were culled at the turn of 2023 to curb the spread, leading to fears that Czechia’s egg prices could rise substantially.


DIPLOMACY Czech and Austrian president give each other honors

President Miloš Zeman awarded today his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen with the Order of the White Lion, the highest Czech state honor. Zeman was also the recipient of a reward, with Bellen giving the Czech president the Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to Austria (also the country’s highest state award). President Milos leaves office in less than a week. Both leaders praised Czech-Austrian cooperation on the construction of inter-country highways and, recently, supporting Ukraine.

EDUCATION Fiala clarifies teachers' pay rise

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala confirmed Wednesday that teachers would get a minimum salary increase after admitting that the government misworded its earlier pledge to issue pay rises to teaching staff. He confirmed that teachers would receive a raise equal to 130 percent of the national average wage, but that teaching assistants and helpers would not be guaranteed a pay rise. Some 40,000 people in Czechia who work in the education sector are not teachers. Fiala said Wednesday he implemented the pay rise to make the profession “more attractive” as the country faces a shortage of teaching staff.

POLITICS Epic government pension debate drags on

After a debate lasting a little over 30 hours, the government has finally put its pension re-evaluation plan on its session agenda following a state of legislative emergency being introduced Wednesday evening. Debate on changing the payment value of pensions – to a lower amount – continues today between the government and the opposition ANO and Freedom and Direct Democracy parties. Based on the bill, the average monthly pension would in June rise by CZK 760 instead of the previously confirmed CZK 1,770.

ENIVORNMENT New wolves found in Krkonoše mountains

Krkonoše National Park spokesperson Radek Drahný said Wednesday that two wolf packs have settled in the mountain region. Wolves have historically roamed around the Krkonoše area along Czechia’s border with Poland, but the emergence of a new wolf pack may come as some surprise. Wolves were commonplace in the region up until the first half of the 1800s, before they were wiped out. Since 2018, they have returned and sightings of the animal have become more and more frequent.

MUSIC Bieber calls off world tour, including Prague

Justin Bieber Wednesday canceled his March 12 show at Prague’s O2 Arena. The Canadian pop star has also called off all the remaining shows of his world tour, which he had previously postponed several times. Bieber suffers from Ramsay Hunt syndrome, which causes partial facial paralysis. He said toward the end of last year that he wanted to make health “a priority.”

UKRAINE Leader of Czech opposition accused Ukraine of meddling

According to the leader of the right-wing Freedom and Direct Democracy party Tomio Okamura, Ukrainian government officials are “arrogant” and interfere unnecessarily in the Czech Republic’s internal affairs. The politician also accused the current government of the “Ukrainization of Czech society.” He said that the country should focus on its own corruption-related problems rather than collaborate with the Czech government. He also accused the former Ukrainian ambassador to Czechia Yevhen Perebyinis of being too involved in current Czech affairs.

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