Czech news in brief for January 11: Thursday's top headlines

Two pro-Palestine demonstrations take place in Prague, frost-like conditions to ease this weekend, and photos of Ukrainian go on exhibit.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 11.01.2024 09:00:00 (updated on 12.01.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

sociology Czech quality of life same in big and small cities

According to a new finding by the Czech Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology, living in the peripheral regions of the Czech Republic is not of lower quality than in big cities, despite higher unemployment rates and lower wages. This is supported by public opinion polls on life satisfaction. 

The report argues against the common perception of peripheral regions as being like "Mordor" (an undesirable and harsh land based on the Lord of the Rings book series) and emphasizes the strengths and successes of these areas.  The institute uses the example of Jeseník (Olomouc), where despite high unemployment, people are satisfied with their quality of life. 

ENERGY Czechia, Saxony agree to share hydrogen networks

Czech President Petr Pavel has announced his plans to visit Israel and Qatar, where he will meet with top political figures and discuss various issues. In Israel, he will meet with President Yitzhak Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other government officials. He will also meet with the families of hostages and may meet with released hostages. 

In Qatar, he will meet with the emir (head of state) and other leaders, as well as visit the Czech Embassy. Pavel's exact travel dates are unknown. Israel launched an offensive in Gaza after a terrorist attack by Hamas, resulting in 1,200 deaths and 240 kidnappings. The Czech president has repeatedly reiterated his support of Israel.

DIPLOMACY Petr Pavel to visit Israel, Qatar soon

Czech President Petr Pavel has announced his plans to visit Israel and Qatar, where he will meet with top political figures and discuss various issues. In Israel, he will meet with President Yitzhak Herzog, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and other government officials. He will also meet with the families of hostages and may meet with released hostages. 

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In Qatar, he will meet with the emir (head of state) and other leaders, as well as visit the Czech Embassy. Pavel's exact travel dates are unknown. Israel launched an offensive in Gaza after a terrorist attack by Hamas, resulting in 1,200 deaths and 240 kidnappings. The Czech president has repeatedly reiterated his support of Israel.

ECONOMY Inflation slows to under 7 percent year on year

According to data published by the Czech Statistical Office, consumer prices in the Czech Republic rose by 6.9 percent year on year in December, with a slight decrease of 0.4 percent month on month. This brings the average inflation rate for the whole of 2023 to 10.7 percent.

The main contributor to the December slowdown was the lower prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages. However, housing costs increased, with rent, water, and electricity prices seeing significant rises. Natural gas and solid fuel prices, on the other hand, decreased.

ISRAEL-HAMAS Fiala emphasizes Israel's right to self-defense

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer have this afternoon both expressed their opposition to politicizing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. In a statement on the X network, they called for Israel's right to defend itself amidst claims of genocide against Palestinians. The ICJ is currently hearing South Africa's complaint about possible Israeli genocide in the Gaza Strip. 

Fiala and Nehammer emphasized the importance of respecting the independence of the ICJ, but also recognizing Israel's right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. They urge solidarity in opposing terrorism and emphasize the importance of the ICJ in upholding the international rule of law.

PUBLIC OPINION Poll: More Czechs disinterested in politics

According to a recent survey by the Center for Public Opinion Research, the percentage of Czechs who do not follow political events in the media has risen to 20 percent at the end of 2023, a significant increase of 11 percentage points compared to the previous year. However, following political news through media remains the most common political activity among the Czech public. 

This is followed by discussing politics with friends, while working for a political party is the least frequent activity. Approximately 40 percent of citizens are somewhat involved in public issues, with fewer participating in activities such as online discussions, meeting politicians, persuading friends to vote, and attending political rallies. Only 6 percent reported working for a political party.

Conflict Multiple pro-Palestine protests held in Prague

Dozens participated in two pro-Palestine events in Prague on Wednesday. One rally focused on commemorating Palestine journalist victims and criticizing alleged media bias, while another protested against President Petr Pavel's official visit to Israel, though no official visit has been planned. Approximately 40 demonstrators at Hradčanské náměstí urged Pavel to cancel the visit, alleging support for Israel's perceived war crimes and genocide in Gaza.

The protest organizers demanded Pavel visit Palestinian territory if the visit proceeds. The open letter handed to the Presidential Office included a petition against the trip. Additionally, around two dozen people gathered at Senovážné náměstí to advocate for an end to violence against Palestinian journalists and criticized Czech media bias.

Weather Frosty conditions to ease slightly this weekend

Czech meteorologists predict a gradual easing of frosty conditions in the coming days, with temperatures expected to rise to around three degrees Celsius during the day over the weekend. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute anticipates more significant warming by Wednesday, following the weekly weather forecast.

Nighttime freezing is expected to diminish, and afternoon temperatures may reach three degrees Celsius in some areas. Friday's forecast indicates nighttime temperatures between minus three and minus seven degrees Celsius, with daytime temperatures ranging from minus three to plus one degree Celsius. The weekend will see a continued slight increase in temperatures.

Travel Qatar Airways resumes service on the Prague-Doha route

Qatar Airways resumes Boeing 787 Dreamliner service on the Prague-Doha route after pandemic-induced disruptions. The wide-body aircraft aims to enhance travel comfort and increase capacity on the busy route. Prague Airport's Chairman, Jiří Pos, and Qatar Airways' Central Europe Region Director, Michael Maass, emphasized the daily deployment of the Dreamliner, capable of accommodating substantial cargo.

Pos highlighted the importance of serving the air cargo market in the Czech Republic. Qatar Airways temporarily replaced the Dreamliner with the Airbus A320 during reduced flight capacity due to Covid-19. The Dreamliner's reintroduction aligns with increased passenger demand and a desire for global travel.

culture Exhibit of Ukraine war photographs opens in Prague

Prague's Bethlehem Chapel hosts the Ukraine: War and Resistance exhibition, showcasing 60 war photographs by seven Ukrainian and U.S. authors. Initiated by the Fulbright Commission in Ukraine and organized by the Fulbright Commission in Czechia and the Czech Technical University. U.S. Ambassador Bijan Sabet, and Ukrainian Charge d'Affaires Vitaliy Usatyi opened the event.

University representatives emphasized the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine, urging continued support for Ukraine's victory highlighting the university's aid efforts and collaboration with defense forces on research and development. The exhibition aims to shed light on the impact of the conflict.

Czech players face challenging draw in Australian Open

The Australian Open draw revealed challenging matchups for Czech tennis players. Karolína Plíšková faces a formidable opponent, world No. 3 Jelena Rybakinová, while Marie Bouzková meets compatriot Linda Nosková, with Bouzková holding a winning record in their past matchups. Seventh seed Markéta Vondroušová takes on a qualifier.

Notable absences from the competition include Karolína Muchová due to a wrist injury and Petra Kvitová, who is pregnant. In the men's draw, Jiří Lehečka, the 32nd seed, will play Spain's Bernabé Zapata.

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