Czech news in brief for January 28: Sunday's top headlines

Czech Defense Minister stands by UN withdrawal statements, Politico accuses ANO Party of adopting Trump-like tactics, and more Sunday headlines.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 28.01.2024 08:30:00 (updated on 28.01.2024) Reading time: 5 minutes

Economy Food prices have stabilized, says Czech minister

Minister of Agriculture Marek Výborný has assured the public that food prices in the Czech Republic have stabilized after the VAT reduction on food, in a TV interview on Sunday. According to Tomáš Prouza, president of the Trade and Tourism Association, the lower VAT is reflected in final prices. Recent statistics indicate a decrease in the prices of several food items.

Minister Výborný dismisses plans to limit support for "green diesel" for farmers and emphasizes an ongoing dialogue with farmers to address concerns about high costs and bureaucracy. Farmers are considering joining European protests against diesel tax increases, seeking solutions to their challenges.

Economy ČNB: Euro adoption process will be demanding

Eva Zamrazilová, vice-governor of the Czech National Bank (ČNB), stated that the Czech Republic's entry into the eurozone requires a broader political agreement and is a long and demanding process in an interview on Sunday. She emphasized that determining the date of entry is crucial before filling the position of the national coordinator for the euro.

Zamrazilová suggested that elevating the Act on Budgetary Responsibility to the level of constitutional law could expedite the euro adoption process. Stabilizing public finances in the long term is a prerequisite, and a wider political consensus is necessary to avoid disruptions in the euro adoption journey.

Military Soldiers train for winter survival in Jeseníky

In the rugged terrain of the Jeseníky Mountains, soldiers from the Czech Republic and abroad are set to face the challenging Winter Survival competition. Participants from Slovenia, Belgium, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and now France will engage in demanding tasks, including navigating rough mountain terrain and bivouacking.

The International Winter Natural All-around Championship, which includes a team from the Active Reserve for the first time, tests soldiers' mental and physical fitness, emphasizing skills required in winter conditions. The competition, in its 27th year, spans various disciplines, incorporating new elements each year, making it a unique and globally recognized selection race.

Weather Freezing fog, ice warning extended

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has extended its weather warning for parts of the Czech Republic, including western Bohemia and Moravia, through Monday morning. Freezing fog is expected overnight and into Monday morning, leading to the formation of light ice on roads and sidewalks. Motorists are advised to reduce speed and exercise caution as visibility may be reduced.

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The freezing fog is anticipated to dissipate gradually throughout Monday, with intermittent occurrences. Meteorologists highlight the potential for ice forming even in areas without fog, particularly near rivers and streams, emphasizing the risk of skidding on icy surfaces.

Culture UNESCO-listed Czech carnival procession begins

The traditional Czech Carnival (Mardi Gras) processions, a longstanding tradition featured on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage, began in the villages around Hlinsko in Czechia's Pardubice Region on Saturday. This lively tradition, dating back centuries, marks the arrival of spring and celebrates fertility.

The Veselý Kopec open-air museum attracted around 2,300 visitors on Saturday, showcasing a parade of masks from Studnice. The processions, featuring a variety of colorful masks, trace back to pagan times. Carnival events will continue in various villages over the coming weeks, culminating in a farewell parade on February 13 in Hlinsko.

Culture 300 ice swimmers dive into Prague's Vltava

About three hundred resilient individuals braved the icy waters of Prague's Vltava river for the 21st annual Branické Ledy competition. The event, organized by the 1st Swimming Club of Otužilc, attracted participants from various regions and even international contenders from Slovakia, Poland, and Hong Kong.

Swimmers faced courses ranging from 100 to 1000 meters in the 3.5-degree Celsius cold water. This year's competition, part of the Czech Cup in Winter Swimming, showcased the growing participation of women, with a ratio of approximately two men to every woman.

Politics Politico: ANO Party adopts Trump-like tactics

Former Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, leader of the ANO party, is employing tactics reminiscent of the Donald Trump campaign in efforts to oppose the government's proposed introduction of postal voting, reports Politico. ANO claims the change is unconstitutional and violates the principle of secret elections.

The government aims to allow postal voting in the 2025 parliamentary elections, potentially impacting up to 600,000 Czechs abroad. Babiš, often compared to Trump, purportedly used rhetorical turns from the U.S. Republican playbook, including manipulation similar to Trump's claims about Joe Biden's victory. Critics suggest ANO's strategy aims to radicalize rhetoric for the upcoming European elections.

Education New Czech school enrollment system launches this week

The new electronic enrollment system for secondary schools in Prague will undergo a stress test on Monday to identify potential weaknesses before its official launch on Thursday. Miroslav Krejčí, director of the Center for the Assessment of Educational Results (Cermat), aims to prevent a recurrence of past system outages, such as with the recent eDoklady system.

The stress test will assess the system's performance under increased user load, with preparations to handle up to 20,000 simultaneous users. Applicants are urged not to rush submissions, as the admission process is not time-sensitive. The new system will launch on Thursday after midnight.

Military Defense Minister stands by UN withdrawal statements

Czech Defence Minister Jana Černochová defended her statements regarding the Czech Republic's potential withdrawal from the United Nations, stating that it aimed to spark a serious debate on the organization's reform. Responding to criticism, Černochová emphasized her unwavering criticism of the UN's handling of issues like the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Despite seeking Security Council membership, she asserted that an uncritical stance toward the UN would devalue such status. Černochová states that she urged the Czech Republic to apply for Security Council membership to positively influence the UN.

Politics Czech Minister supports Bosnia, Kosovo in EU accession

Czech Minister for European Affairs Martin Dvořák recently visited Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, expressing support for their EU integration efforts. In Kosovo, Dvořák encountered a united political scene focused on nationalist sentiments, particularly amid tensions with Serbia. While Kosovo explores paths to joining both the EU and NATO, the unresolved conflict remains a significant obstacle.

Dvořák also engaged with Bosnian leaders, emphasizing the importance of EU membership and addressing concerns over potential secession threats by Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik. The EU has conditionally opened accession talks with Bosnia, contingent on fulfilling 14 priorities to be evaluated in March.

Crime Czech police detain man wanted in Vietnam

Prague police arrested a 60-year-old man with an international arrest warrant initiated by Vietnam, accusing him of crimes related to land and reserve management in Hanoi. The man was apprehended during a routine road check on January 16. The police discovered the arrest warrant after stopping a car belonging to a transport company.

The detained individual will face legal proceedings, with the Prague Metropolitan Prosecutor's Office determining the subsequent actions in accordance with international judicial cooperation laws.

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