News in brief for April 20: German transport strike shuts down Prague flights

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, April 20, 2023, updated daily to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 20.04.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 20.04.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

CYBERSECURITY One in 10 Czechs stop using TikTok due to privacy concerns

A new survey released today by NMS Market Research has revealed that about 10 percent of all Czechs have stopped using the TikTok application recently due to privacy worries. This includes 17 percent of those aged 18 to 24 – the demographic that overwhelmingly uses the Chinese social media app the most.

The study found that half of all respondents were worried about the data that the app collects. Last month, the Czech National Cyber and Information Security Agency officially classified TikTok’s threat as “high” to the country.

DIPLOMACY Lipavský to discuss NATO security with Latvian counterpart

Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský said today that, during his meeting with Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevičs Friday, he intends to discuss the threats of Russia and China. 


Lipavský labeled Latvia “a model” for sanctions, and wants to consult Rinkevičs on the issue. Latvia is a significant country for NATO’s defense, given the fact it shares a border with Russia. During his visit, Lipavský will also meet with Czech soldiers who are stationed in Latvia.

POLITICS Czech education minister stands down

Minister of Education Vladimír Balaš has announced he will leave his role due to health reasons. Balaš, who today has his 64th birthday, has served as the country’s education minister for just three-quarters of a year.

He said this afternoon that he feels unable to fully devote himself to the demanding role of education minister given “long-term” health problems, which he did not specify. He will now enter retirement. The government has confirmed that current Minister of European Affairs Mikuláš Bek is likely to replace Balaš.

INTERNATIONAL CONFLICT Four Czechs trapped in Sudan

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are four Czech citizens currently in Sudan, where an internal conflict has killed around 300 people in the past week. Czechia is unable to evacuate the citizens yet. 

The government is in communication with the nearest Czech embassy in the region – in Egypt’s Cairo – to discuss ways to help the Czechs. All major airports in the country are closed. There are an estimated 1,000 EU citizens currently in Sudan.

event Five foreigners flee detention facility in Czechia

Five people with Moroccan nationality escaped early Wednesday Morning from a migrant-detention facility in Moravia-Silesia, a spokesperson for immigration police said today. One has been arrested and the other four are on the loose. All have been confirmed as illegal immigrants seeking asylum.

The detention center in the area is used to detain foreigners who have been instructed to leave the country due to not having the necessary visas or work permits to stay in Czechia. According to the police spokesperson, escapes or attempted escapes happen only in exceptional cases.

INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMACY Fiala talks Russia in Singapore

During his trip to Singapore today Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala engaged in discussions about economic cooperation and the international political landscape with top representatives of Singapore, including Singaporean counterpart Lee Hsien Loong.

Fiala spoke to Czech journalists about the significance of the alliance between the EU and ASEAN states, as well as the risks arising from Russian aggression in Ukraine. Additionally, he touched on the potential dangers posed in the region by the strained relationship between the US and China. According to Fiala, there is great potential in the development of defense-industrial cooperation with Singapore.

TRAVEL German transport strike causing flight delays in Prague

A warning strike for better financial evaluation has caused traffic disruption at three German airports, including Hamburg, Cologne/Bonn, and Düsseldorf. The strike has led to the cancellation of flights and delays, affecting tens of thousands of passengers, including two lines between Prague and Düsseldorf. The strike at the airport in Hamburg has had a significant impact, with almost all traffic being paralyzed.

The strike, which was called by the Verdi union and the union of companies providing airport controls (BDLS), is a result of a dispute over increased bonuses and tariff rules on overtime pay. Another warning strike by railway and transport unions EVG is planned for Friday. Václav Havel Airport in Prague has regular connections with Düsseldorf. The morning and evening lines were canceled in both directions today. 

SPORT Sparta player Jankto benched following driving violation

Sparta Prague has taken action against one of its players, Jakub Jankto after he was stopped by the police for driving without a valid license. Jankto has been excluded from joint training with the A-team and will be dealing with his personal situation. In February this year, the footballer came out in an emotional, widely shared viral post.

Jankto has also announced that he will take a football break to focus on his health and mental well-being, as several things have accumulated around him in recent years. The decision comes after a poor sporting year for Jankto, but he expressed gratitude towards Sparta, its players, coaches, and fans.

POLITICS Pension reform will enable online applications

The government has approved a pension reform amendment that will in the near future make it possible to apply for a pension online. The planned reform also changes the dates of pension payments. Labor Minister Marian Jurečka has said that the online application will be available from December and that in the near future, there will be five pension payments (with higher quantities) than the current 13 every year.

People who work while being eligible for retirement will also no longer need to pay in monthly social insurance contributions. After working 360 calendar days, pensioners will be able to apply for an increase in their pensions. Jurečka's goal, he says, is to encourage economic activity for older people.

SERVICES Govt. approves Česká pošta closures, asks for audit

Following a four-hour government meeting Wednesday evening, the Czech Chamber of Deputies expressed support for the decision to close 300 Česká pošta (ČP) branches in a bid to save money and stay afloat. The Czech lower house also called on the Supreme Audit Office to analyze the country’s postal carrier. 

The opposition ANO movement attempted to push for the postponement of ČP’s branch closures during Wednesday’s government session, but failed to garner enough support. When speaking of the closures – set to take place halfway through this year – Interior Minister Vít Rakušan said that even after ČP’s restructuring, Czechia would still have the largest postal network in the EU.

CONSUMER PRICES Czech-made pastry is EU's fifth-cheapest

Despite rising cost-of-living levels in Czechia, the Czech Union of Bakers and Confectioners has announced that Czech pastry is currently the fifth-cheapest in the whole EU. Cheaper wheat – now at its lowest level since February 2022 – aided by Ukrainian imports contributes to the relatively low price.

The cost of flour has also been increasing at lower rates year on year in recent months: in November the rise was 48 percent, whereas in March flour increased 32 percent. Agriculture production price growth has also been slowing in recent months, helping contain Czech pastry prices.

JOURNALISM Czech journalist gets highest French state decoration

Czech journalist and humanitarian worker Petra Procházková has been awarded the French Legion of Honour – the highest French order of merit – for her contribution to war-related journalism. French Ambassador to Czechia Alexis Dutertre presented the medal to Procházková Wednesday in Prague. One of the Czech writer’s books, Frišta, was adapted into a film that won the French Film Academy’s César Award for Best Animated Feature Film.

Procházková has in the past reported on conflicts in the Caucasus, Georgia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and East Timor. In the past nine years, she has covered the Russia-Ukraine war. She received the Czech Medal for Merit, a Czech state award for contributions to education and defense, in 2000.

DIPLOMACY Czech president and NATO chief commit full support to Ukraine

During a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels Wednesday, Czech President Petr Pavel said that the West’s support of Ukraine “is the only option” at present. Pavel also said that Czechia and NATO allies were fully ready to support Ukraine “in the long term.”

Stoltenberg agreed, saying that the West has no alternative to supporting Ukraine. The men also referenced a further planned increase in defense spending by NATO, which is set to be approved in July. Pavel, who served as chairman of the NATO Military Committee from 2015 to 2018, also expressed his support for Ukraine joining NATO when the war finished.

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