News in brief for July 18: Top headlines for Tuesday in Czechia

Czechia to deepen trade ties with Latin America, drought conditions worsening, and more top stories for July 18, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 18.07.2023 09:05:00 (updated on 18.07.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

diplomacy EU summit with LatAm and Caribbean helpful yet challenging

According to Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala today, the recent summit between the EU, Latin America, and the Caribbean has provided a renewed boost to bilateral relations. However, Fiala noted that discussions regarding Russian aggression in Ukraine proved challenging, particularly with leaders from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba, who resisted criticizing Russia.

Fiala expressed optimism about new trade and mutually beneficial opportunities in sectors such as energy, mining, engineering, automotive, advanced technology, and cybersecurity in the region. The Czech prime minister noted that some Czech companies are already successfully operating in Chile or Brazil.

ENVIRONMENT Polish court cancels suspension of mining permit at Czech border

The Polish Supreme Administrative Court has today overturned a decision made by the Warsaw Administrative Court that had temporarily suspended a mining permit for the Turów coal mine – very close to the Czech border – beyond 2026.

The mine has in recent years been a point of contention between Czechia and Poland due to concerns about its impact on Czech groundwater. In February of this year, the Polish Ministry of the Environment authorized mining in Turów until 2044. In February 2022, Czechia and Poland reached a deal involving the construction of a groundwater barrier to protect water supplies on the Czech side of the border.

CHARITY Czech food banks launch food-distribution scheme

According to Chairman of the Czech Federation of Food Banks Aleš Slavíček, food banks nationwide are launching a three-year, EU-funded project to establish 150 food-aid distribution points. These centers – some of which will be mobile – aim to extend assistance to areas currently lacking access to food aid. 

Each of the country's 15 food banks will set up 10 distribution points in their respective regions. The project, costing CZK 69 million, is expected to benefit at least 50,000 people in need. Minister of Labor Marian Jurečka expressed optimism about its success and hoped for future funding.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS British MI6 chief to visit Prague Wednesday

Richard Moore, the head of British intelligence service MI6, is set to visit Prague and deliver his annual speech on Wednesday, Czech Radio reports. He will address current threats, including Russian aggression in Ukraine, China's actions, and advancements in artificial intelligence. Moore, who has led the British spies since 2020, rarely makes public appearances. 

His visit to Prague will involve speaking to government officials, notable individuals, and journalists. The speech will be live-streamed by Politico. British Ambassador Matthew Field expressed his pleasure in welcoming Sir Richard Moore, emphasizing that he will discuss the international challenges facing their country.

ACCIDENT FlixBus crash involved foreigners from 25 countries

The police report today that they anticipate a complex investigation into a bus accident on the D2 highway in Brno. The collision involved two buses, resulting in the death of one driver and injuries to 76 passengers (14 in serious condition) from 25 different nationalities. No Czechs were involved. Witness interviews from all are required.

The prompt emergency response included 26 medical teams, three helicopters, and assistance from private health services. Two people underwent intensive surgery. Hospitals activated trauma plans to handle the influx of injured individuals. 

weather Parts of Bohemia face fire risk

According to information released by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute today, the risk of fires has increased in parts of Bohemia (namely South Bohemia), Pilsen, and the west of the Liberec region. The rest of the country has a low fire risk. 

The warning about possible fires in the Czech Republic is valid for several weeks and is active until further notice. Due to the hot and dry weather, some regions have banned the use of open fires in nature.

crime Court reopens case into man wearing Wagner Group symbol

The Municipal Court in Prague has revoked the suspended sentence given to Jakub Jašek, an anti-government demonstrator, for endorsing war crimes by wearing patches with the letter Z and the logo of the Russian Wagner Group at a March protest.

The court returned the case to the prosecutor for further investigation. Jašek, who denies guilt, was initially sentenced to probation, fined, and banned from Prague for a year. His intention, according to the prosecutor, was to express support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He faces up to three years in prison for denying, questioning, approving of, and justifying genocide.

Business French retail chain looks to Czech billionaire for help

French retail chain Casino's board of directors approved talks with Czech billionaire Daniel Křetínský and Fimalac for a financial injection of EUR 1.2 to bolster its trade balance, reports Reuters. Křetínský's rivals Xavier Niel, Matthieu Pigasse, and Moez-Alexandre Zouari withdrew their bid to take over Casino.

Trading in Casino shares on the Paris stock exchange was halted ahead of the announcement. The company faces a consolidated net debt of EUR 6.4 billion and needs to repay EUR three billion within the next two years.

politics Czechia aims to deepen trade ties with Latin America

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala departed for the EU-Latin America summit in Brussels on Monday to boost cooperation in trade and investment. With geopolitical concerns regarding Russia's aggression in Ukraine and China's influence, leaders from both Latin America and the Caribbean regions will discuss ways of collaboration as well as the unratified trade agreement with South America's major countries, and seek condemnation of the Russian invasion from Brazil and other overseas nations.

Fiala emphasized deepening trade ties, especially regarding minerals, and announced bilateral talks with Chilean President Gabriel Boric. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský aims to seek support for UN General Assembly votes during short meetings with several Latin American countries. The EU-CELAC summit brings together EU leaders and leaders from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Brussels on July 17 and 18.

Environment Severe drought worsens in Czechia

Czech Republic's severe drought situation worsens as 34.8 percent of the territory faces the two worst degrees of drought, and 97.8 percent experiences varying degrees of drought. Central and northeastern Moravia suffer the most, as reported by Intersucho. Scientists evaluate soil drought up to one-meter depth, with some easing predicted in the west of central Bohemia.

However, Moravia might continue facing drought in the coming week. The northwestern part of Bohemia and Znojemsko in Central Moravia faced the worst drought since the beginning of the year. Farmers in several regions expect heavy crop damage, with some reporting over 40 percent yield loss.

Accident Driver confirmed dead in accident involving Flixbus

A tragic accident involving two buses closed the D2 highway near Brno in both directions for several hours. One person was killed, and 76 others were injured, with 14 in serious condition. Among the injured were three children, not in critical condition. Emergency services swiftly responded, and the highway reopened in one direction.

The accident occurred when a FlixBus heading from Budapest to Prague was rear-ended by another car. Police are investigating the cause of the collision.

Prague Wenceslas Square fountain working again

Prague's Wenceslas Square fountain is operational again after repairs by Capital Technology firm. The fountain, damaged by passing vehicles and heavy machinery, now has concrete pillars for protection. Tomáš Novotný, deputy chairman of the board of directors, announced its daily opening hours of 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the summer season, welcoming residents and visitors.

The fountain, part of Wenceslas Square's 2021 reconstruction, was launched in May 2022. Water from 16 jets recirculates through an underground reservoir, undergoing filtration before rising again. Lamps illuminate the nozzles, embedded in stone slabs at pedestrian level. The repairs ensure better preservation of the popular attraction.

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