Czech news in brief for May 22: Wednesday's top headlines

Fiala, Netanyahu discuss ICC arrest warrants, Czech crown strengthens against major world currencies, and acclaimed Czech architect dies. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 22.05.2024 07:25:00 (updated on 22.05.2024) Reading time: 3 minutes

INDUSTRY Czechia has second-lowest share of electric cars

Lukáš Kadula from the Center for Transport Research reports that the Czech Republic has the second lowest share of registrations for new personal battery electric cars in the EU at 2.5 percent. This is significantly lower than the EU average of 12 percent and only Croatia has a lower share. In the first four months of this year, 1,893 new battery cars were registered in the Czech Republic, representing a year-on-year increase of 5.5 percent. The country ranks 10th in the EU for new passenger car market size.

POLITICS Czech lower house shortens debt-relief period

The Chamber of Deputies has approved a government amendment to the insolvency law, shortening the debt relief period from five to three years for all debtors. Critics warn that this change will harm creditors, especially single parents, housing associations, and cooperatives. The amendment, based on a European directive, will now be debated in the Senate. Supporters argue that it will give individuals with high debts a second chance to recover and rejoin the legal economy.

ANIMALS Polar bear from Prague Zoo dies suddenly

Director of Prague Zoo Miroslav Bobek has reported that a polar bear who was relocated from Prague Zoo to a zoo in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the spring, unexpectedly passed away. According to the Almaty Zoo, Tom's death was due to a long-term illness, but according to Bobek, Tom showed no signs of illness before leaving Prague. The Prague Zoo plans to address this issue with the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

INERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Pavel: No sense in recognizing Palestine as state

Czech President Petr Pavel has criticized the recent announcements by Norway, Ireland, and Spain to recognize Palestine as a state. He stated that it was a political gesture and not practical without a workable model and support from more countries. He also expressed concerns about the current state of the Palestinian entity, particularly Gaza, and emphasized the need for detailed negotiations. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz ordered ambassadors to return to Israel for consultations, while the Palestinian Authority and Hamas welcomed the recognition.

Politics Fiala, Netanyahu discuss ICC arrest warrants

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala criticized an International Criminal Court (ICC) proposal to issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials and Hamas leaders in a call with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Fiala deemed the proposal "appalling" and "incomprehensible." The leaders also discussed the humanitarian crisis in Gaza amid ongoing conflict. ICC prosecutor Karim Khan's request includes warrants for Netanyahu and Hamas leaders, citing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Economy Czech crown strengthens against major currencies

The Czech koruna strengthened against the euro to CZK/EUR 24.69 and the dollar to CZK/USD 22.74, according to Patria Online. This follows April inflation data exceeding market and Czech National Bank expectations. The Prague Stock Exchange fell slightly, with the PX index down 0.04 percent to 1566.89 points. Energy company ČEZ shares rose, while bank securities declined. ČEZ shares closed at last week's high.

Education ČVUT students launch Ukrainian rebuild project

The Czech Technical University in Prague (ČVUT) and Kharkiv's Beketov University have launched a reconstruction project for Ukrainian students, ČVUT announced. The Capacity Building and Knowledge Transfer for the Development of Affected Areas of Ukraine project includes lectures and a course on post-war reconstruction, focusing on security, social, and climatic conditions. Supported by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the project aims to aid in rebuilding war-torn Ukraine.

PARENTS Govt. to mandate care for kindergarteners by 2026

Starting in 2026, Czech municipalities must provide spots in children's groups for children not accepted by kindergartens by age three. By 2029, care for two-year-olds will be guaranteed. From next year, neighborhood children's groups for up to four children will be established. The amendment, to be discussed by the government on Wednesday, addresses care rules and state funding. Municipalities, however, seek increased financial support from the state.

RIP Czech architect of Ještěd Hotel interior dies

Architect Otakar Binar, known for designing the interior of the Ještěd Hotel, has died at 92. Binar, a founding member of the renowned SIAL studio alongside Karel Hubáček, contributed to several iconic Czech architectural projects. Liberec Governor Martin Půta announced his death on Facebook. Binar, who was awarded the Governor's Honor in 2008, also worked on the Máj cinema and Teplice’s House of Culture.

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