Czech news in brief for April 19: Friday's top headlines

Police to measure speed across Czechia today, Prague launches tender for driverless metro, and debut novel awarded Czechia's top literary prize. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 19.04.2024 09:06:00 (updated on 19.04.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

PENSION REFORM ANO withdraws from pension talks with Pavel

The opposition ANO movement has withdrawn from Monday's scheduled meeting on pension reform with President Petr Pavel, according to a press release from the Presidential Office. The opposition says it cannot reach an agreement on raising the retirement age (to which ANO is opposed) and, therefore, sees any further talks as pointless. Prime Minister Petr Fiala says that ANO canceled its participation because it does not want to agree on anything or offer viable solutions.

POLITICS Thirty Czech parties can run in EP election

The Czech Interior Ministry announced that all 30 registered political entities will participate in the June European Parliament elections, a decrease of nine from the previous elections. Only one candidate list was eliminated for submission after the deadline. Compared to the last EP elections, coalitions have doubled to 11, with 19 separate candidate lists this year. The Spolu (Together) coalition will feature on the ballot, consisting of three incumbent government parties: the Civic Democrats, Christian Democrats, and TOP 09.

ECONOMY Czech national debt reaches record high

According to the Ministry of Finance, the Czech Republic's national debt has reached a record high of CZK 3.221 trillion, with each citizen theoretically owing CZK 295,480. The debt ratio has risen to 43.6 percent of GDP due to the sale of government bonds to cover the state budget deficit. State bonds totaling CZK 78.7 billion were sold on both the primary and secondary markets, with an average remaining maturity of 11.2 years. 

foreign affairs Czechia backs sanctions against Israeli settlers

The Czech Republic has supported the EU's decision to impose sanctions on radical Israeli settlers for their attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. According to Czech Foreign Ministry spokesperson Daniel Drake, this move was successful and highlights the importance of addressing human rights violations globally. The EU had proposed these sanctions in December, but Czechia and Hungary initially opposed them.

Safety Police to measure speed across Czechia today

Police across the Czech Republic will conduct speed checks in over a thousand locations today as part of the Speed Marathon event, aiming to promote adherence to speed limits and enhance road safety. Spokesperson Hana Rubášová stated that patrols will monitor risk areas throughout the day, with the public’s input aiding site selection. Last year’s event saw over 2,100 speed limit violations, resulting in fines totaling CZK 1.4 million.

Transport Prague launches tender for driverless metro

The Prague Transport Company (DPP) has initiated a tender worth around CZK 86 billion crowns to procure automated train sets for metro lines C and D. DPP spokesperson Daniel Šabík stated that the contract encompasses additional technologies and station modifications. The supplier selection is expected in October 2025, with train deliveries slated after 2029. The tender includes 53 sets for line C, 16 for line D, and maintenance provisions for up to 35 years.

Ukraine Slovak public collects funds for CZ ammo drive

A Slovak public collection in solidarity with a Czech initiative to procure ammunition for Ukraine has surpassed EUR 1.6 million in under 48 hours, exceeding its initial goal of EUR 1 million, organizers announced. Over 25,000 donors have contributed to the effort, dubbed “If not the government, we send.” Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government declined involvement in the initiative; after taking office last year, the current Slovak government stopped military aid to Ukraine from state supplies but continues to support the country with commercial supplies.

Literature Debut novel awarded Czechia's top literary prize

Literary critic Alena Machoninová’s debut novel Hella clinched the Magnesia Litera 2022 prize for Book of the Year. The literary work delves into the life of Helena Frischerova, a Jewish Czech woman who endured a decade in a Soviet gulag. Machoninová blends biography with fiction, exploring broader themes of Russia’s history and the interplay between literature and reality. The awards ceremony at the National Theatre also honored contributions across various literary genres.

Music Bychkov steps down as Czech Philharmonic conductor

After a decade in the role, Semyon Bychkov, the Russian-born American conductor, will step down as chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra in 2028. Bychkov, 71, took over in 2018, succeeding Jiri Belohlavek. Under his leadership, the orchestra has seen significant artistic growth. Bychkov cited the fulfillment of his mission in elevating the orchestra to international acclaim. His departure marks the end of a transformative era for the renowned ensemble.

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