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

Teacher's strike to move ahead, most Czechs back NATO membership, and more top headlines for Nov. 22, 2023.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 22.11.2023 09:01:00 (updated on 22.11.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

diplomacy V4 leaders reaffirm support for Ukraine during Prague summit

Czech President Petr Pavel and the other three heads of state from the Visegrad Four (V4) countries expressed support for Ukraine after their summit that took place today in Prague. They agreed that supporting Ukraine is essential for their security.

The V4 countries also discussed the war in Ukraine, with Hungary and Slovakia making statements that differed from the consensus. The leaders also addressed the situation in the Middle East, expressing the need to prevent further escalation of the conflict and to avoid civilian casualties.

corruption Pardubice politicians under investigation for public tenders

Nineteen individuals and two companies have been accused by the police of manipulations with public tenders in Pardubice. The National Center Against Organized Crime (NCOZ) made the announcement and added that the Pardubice Town Hall and companies controlled by the municipality are involved. The police conducted a crackdown at the Town Hall and the municipal companies, with multiple teams working at different locations.

Pardubice Mayor Jan Nadrchal and Deputy Mayor Jakub Rychtecký will return from a working trip to address the situation. The ANO movement, led by former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, has decided to expel the individuals involved in the case.

international Checks at Czech-Slovak border to continue until Jan. 3

Checks at the Czech border with Slovakia will continue until at least Jan. 3, as the government approved the proposal by Interior Minister Vít Rakušan. This measure, which aims to prevent illegal migration, was extended due to the so-called "migration domino" effect in Central Europe.

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The Czech Republic, in coordination with Poland, started the checks on Oct. 4 and has checked nearly 400,000 people so far. The Czech government plans to discuss migration issues with neighboring countries and arrive at a plan to end the border controls in the near future.

work Up to a million workers could join strike planned for Monday

Hundreds of firms in the Czech industry, possibly up to one million workers, are expected to join a strike organized by the KOVO trade union next Monday, Nov. 27, according to KOVO head Roman Durco. One of them is Škoda Auto, which will halt production for two hours at all of its plants.

The strike aims to express protest against the government's actions and will be the largest protest since 2015. The KOVO trade union numbers around 77,700 members, and is part of CMKOS, which is the largest trade union in Czechia.

politics President Pavel faces backlash over consolidation package

Czech President Petr Pavel's decision to sign the government's consolidation package into law today has drawn criticism from opposition politicians. The package aims to improve the state budget by up to CZK 150 billion over the next two years through measures such as increasing corporate income tax and removing tax exemptions.

Shadow Prime Minister Karel Havlíček of the ANO party argued that Pavel should have shown more courage and refused to support the package, which he believes will harm future growth and burden households and businesses with higher taxes. ANO party representatives announced plans to challenge the package with the Constitutional Court.

weather End of week to bring strong winds and low temperatures

Strong winds are forecasted to blow across most of the Czech Republic from Thursday evening, leading meteorologists to issue a warning. The winds will reach speeds of up to 70 kilometers per hour, increasing to 90 kilometers per hour in the mountains. The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a strong wind warning from Thursday 6:00 p.m. to Friday 6:00 a.m., cautioning people to be careful when outdoors and while driving.

Temperatures will be cold, with the possibility of snowfall in lowland areas. In the coming days, daily highs may not even rise above zero degrees across the Czech Republic.

Education Czech teachers unions to proceed with warning strike

The education union chairman told reporters that the planned Nov. 27 strike of Czech primary, secondary, and kindergarten teachers is still on after meeting with Education Minister Mikuláš Bek. The minister said next year's CZK 269 billion budget wouldn't increase despite unions claiming a shortfall of CZK 8 billion.

Bek offered to divert CZK 4 billion from reserves in January if this year's balance and EU funds allow. However, unions are also upset that non-teaching staff salaries will fall by 2 percent. The impasse continues over more education funding ahead of drawing up school budgets at month's end.

Defense Poll shows most Czechs back NATO membership

Deputy Defense Minister Jan Jireš told lawmakers that majority public support remains for Czech membership in NATO amid a petition hearing on withdrawing. Jireš noted membership underpins defense policy by avoiding huge spending and force hikes. An anti-war activist said citizens faced a "fait accompli" by joining without a referendum.

While acknowledging preparedness concerns, Jireš pointed to a poll finding that 85 percent wouldn't vote to exit. However, the committee chairman questioned the survey and said only an election or referendum reflects citizens' will on the key alliance. The session debated petitions demanding the pursuit of peace over military planning.

Politics V4 presidents gather for summit on at Prague Castle

The presidents of the Visegrad Group nations (the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary) will convene today at Prague Castle to discuss priorities and projects financed through the International Visegrad Fund. The annual EUR 10 million pot supports cooperation among the four central European countries.

In morning meetings, Petr Pavel and counterparts from Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary will consider financial support for modernizing their economies. Additional talks focus on the impacts of Russian aggression in Ukraine to boost aid, plus the situation in the Middle East and EU enlargement. An afternoon press conference will be held to give an update on the outcomes of the summit hosted by Czech President Pavel.

Russia Czechia pushes EU to limit Russian diplomats' movement

The Czech Republic is proposing that the EU curb the travel of Russian diplomats within the Schengen zone due to numerous espionage activities conducted under diplomatic cover, Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský told ČTK. Details remain confidential as negotiations proceed.

Lipavský said European partners recognize such spying poses risks. Prague wants Russian envoys restricted to their host country and only issued biometric passports, which are harder to forge. The proposal, which aims to further sanction Moscow, was put forth by the Czechs last week.

International Slovak truckers block border in protest of Ukrainian competition

Slovak truck drivers began blocking traffic at the border crossing with Ukraine in Vyšné Nemecké Tuesday in protest of Ukrainian haulers' access to the EU market without permits. Approximately 300 trucks are jamming the Slovak side according to Unian news. Truckers want Kyiv's vehicles to again need authorization as the Russian invasion exemption has undercut Central European competitors.

Cars and buses are unaffected by the blockade that began at 1:30 p.m. Earlier petitions to Brussels and national transport ministries by a group of Central European nations including the Czech Republic called for stricter regulations on Ukrainian freight carriers.

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