Czech news in brief for January 24: Wednesday's top headlines

Senate to cast critical votes on constitutional judge nomination and violence against women, high-speed train crash leaves one dead, and more headlines.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 24.01.2024 08:48:00 (updated on 24.01.2024) Reading time: 6 minutes

economy Deloitte predicts 1.1 percent GDP growth

According to consulting company Deloitte, the Czech economy is projected to grow by 1.1 percent this year, rebounding from a 0.6 percent contraction in the previous year. Average annual inflation is expected to decrease to 2.7 percent, down from last year's 10.7 percent, leading to a nominal wage growth. Household consumption is anticipated to drive GDP growth, increasing by 2.6 percent due to declining inflation and rising real incomes. 

However, reduced private investment and state consumption, attributed to increased company costs and budget consolidation, may hinder GDP development. Deloitte suggests a potential return to pre-Covid-19 GDP levels this year, but warns of divergence from the EU average if there's no shift to a higher-value-added economy. 

WOMEN'S RIGHTS Pavel: Czechia must ratify Istanbul Convention

President Petr Pavel expressed endorsement for Czechia's long-overdue ratification of the Istanbul Convention against domestic violence and violence towards women, emphasizing Czechia's belated commitment compared to other European nations. On the social network X, the president urged swift ratification, considering the country as among the last in Europe yet to commit. 

Today, the Senate is deciding on the convention's ratification. The outcome remains uncertain, as both supporters and opponents demonstrate equal strength. Currently, 39 of the 45 signatory states have ratified the convention, with the Czech Republic having signed it in 2016 but not yet ratified.

SOCIETY LGBTQ+ people more at risk of depression

The Psychology Research Institute of Masaryk University recently disclosed findings from a comprehensive 2023 survey on the mental health of LGBTQ+ individuals in Czechia. Notably, as much as 40 percent of LGBTQ+ people exhibit a heightened risk of depression, a marked departure from the 10 percent reported within the general populace. 

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Particularly vulnerable are transexual men, and asexual and non-binary individuals, who report heightened feelings of isolation and diminished self-esteem. Over 25 percent of people in the LGBTQ+ community frequently perceive their lives as devoid of meaning, with 33 percent reporting a decline in self-worth. 

International relations Czechia praises Turkey's Sweden NATO approval

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský expressed his support for Sweden's NATO accession on the social network X, following the Turkish parliament's approval. This comes after a year of Turkey blocking the process, which was initiated by Sweden and Finland in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Finland's accession was approved by Turkey last year, while Sweden's was only recently approved and still awaits the signature of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has urged Hungary, the last member to ratify, to do so as soon as possible. Lipavský hopes for a swift completion of the ratification process, stating that it will strengthen NATO and contribute to European security. 

law New information in rape case released

According to Czech media outlet Seznam Zprávy, the high-profile court verdict in the case of a girl who was repeatedly raped by her stepfather had acknowledged her mental suffering and awarded her a financial claim of CZK 300,000.  However, the Regional Court of Appeal in Brno interpreted the expert opinions differently, leading to the defendant's sentence being reduced to probation. 

The court had stated that the girl's mental state was not significantly affected and that her difficulties were likely to disappear completely. The recently amended sentence for the perpetrator – from three years in prison for rape and child pornography to a suspended sentence – has caused public outrage.

ENVIRONMENT Czechia's green transition to cost CZK 1 trillion

Expert studies from the National Economic Council project that the Czech Republic’s transition to a green economy will cost CZK 1 trillion by 2030 and over CZK 3 trillion by 2050. The shift to sustainable development and reducing environmental risks will bring opportunities for economic development and stability, better planning of investments, and increased EU resources and tax collection, NERV points out. 

However, the council warns of shortcomings in the strategies of individual ministries, citing poor priorities, inefficient resource use, and declining competitiveness. According to NERV, the basic points of the transformation to a green economy will be decarbonization, the reduction of emissions, and the introduction of digitization and innovation.

TRANSPORT Prague tram seriously injures elderly pedestrian

Prague police say a 60-year-old pedestrian was seriously injured after being struck by a tram at the Obora Hvězda stop on Bělohorská Street in Prague 6 this morning. Emergency units rescued the victim and they were taken to the hospital for further treatment. 

The police are currently investigating the cause of the collision. Tram traffic in the area was disrupted for several tens of minutes, but was restored by 7:40 a.m. The victim's identity and condition have not been disclosed.

Politics Senate to vote on const. judge, sexual violence

Upcoming Senate session holds key decisions on lawyer Milan Hulmák's nomination as a constitutional judge and the Istanbul Convention against violence on women. President Petr Pavel will present Hulmák's candidacy during his visit, and the Senate is expected to approve it based on committee recommendations. However, the fate of the Istanbul Convention is uncertain, given concerns over passages and wording.

Supporters argue it aligns the Czech Republic with civilized nations, aiding NGOs in assisting assaulted women. Critics deem it redundant, potentially entrenching financial aid for NGOs and promoting gender ideology. A comprehensive debate may extend the session into Thursday.

Accident Train collision injures 16, leaves driver dead

In a tragic incident in Karvinsko, an InterCity train collided with a truck at a crossing in Dolní Lutyn in the Karvina region. The collision, which occurred around 5:40 a.m., resulted in the death of the train driver, with 16 passengers on the express train sustaining injuries. Emergency services are currently at the scene.

Czech Railways reported the collision on the Ostrava–Žilina line in the Bohumín–Dětmarovice section. The rescue system is fully engaged, and the police have confirmed one fatality, with ongoing emergency response efforts. The Railway Administration expects traffic disruptions throughout the day due to damage to the traction line, derailing of the locomotive, and a wagon.

Russian invasion Slovak PM challenges war in Kyiv

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico challenged reports of war in Kyiv, asserting that life in the Ukrainian capital is normal, as he prepares for a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in Uzhhorod. Fico, responding to questions during a government meeting in eastern Slovakia, dismissed the notion of conflict in Kyiv and cited practical reasons for the chosen meeting location.

Ukrainian news agencies criticized Fico's statement, with Ukrainska Pravda questioning his comments amid recent Russian attacks on Kyiv. Fico previously opposed Ukraine's NATO admission, criticizing the country's sovereignty and halting military aid.

Survivors Four shooting victims remain in hospital

In Prague, four individuals injured in the tragic shooting at the Faculty of Arts on Dec. 21 remain hospitalized, one month after the incident. Two women are receiving rehabilitation at Prague-Motol university hospital, while another woman is at Thomayer university hospital.

The latter is reportedly stable and starting to communicate. The last patient, a foreigner, was recently discharged from the General university hospital and will continue treatment in the Netherlands. The shooting, carried out by a lone student, resulted in 14 fatalities and 25 injuries. Various hospitals treated the wounded, with significant public donations aiding victims and their families.

Culture Year of Forman project launches

The Year of Forman project, launched this week, reaches its pinnacle with the June 18 premiere of a performance about the life of director Miloš Forman at Museum Kampa's courtyard. Patrik Děrgel and Marek Adamczyk portray the renowned filmmaker. The forthcoming Forman theater production will run from June 18 to late July on the Summer Stage of the Kampa Museum.

In addition to the live performance, selected cinemas will participate in the Year of Forman by screening his well-known films. Director Forman, a key figure in Czechoslovak new film wave and a significant impact abroad, left a lasting legacy with works like "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and "Amadeus."

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