News in brief for July 4: Severe storm warning issued across Czechia for Wednesday

Czech foreign minister says Russia will be a long-term threat, opposition expresses support for cash payments, and apartment prices see slight fall. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 04.07.2023 07:44:00 (updated on 10.07.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

DIPLOMACY Petr Pavel meets Slovak PM, talks security

President Petr Pavel and Slovak Prime Minister Ľudovít Ódor held discussions this afternoon at Prague Castle regarding the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius and other bilateral matters, Pavel wrote on Twitter today.

Pavel emphasized the strength of Czech-Slovak relations and the stable nature of bilateral cooperation despite political changes, calling the relationship “unshakable.” The discussions also encompassed cooperation in countering disinformation, defense-related topics, handling refugees across the EU, and Czechia’s assumption of the presidency of the Visegrád Group from Slovakia.

crime Police arrest eight for mass meth production across Czechia

According to Prague police spokesman Richard Hrdina, eight individuals have been arrested for allegedly producing and distributing high-quality methamphetamine across Prague, Central Bohemia, and the Ústí nad Labem region. The suspects operated in six different breweries, frequently changing production locations to avoid detection.

The group consisted of "cooks" who manufactured the drug, accomplices who procured necessary materials, and street dealers responsible for distribution. During the operation involving over 100 police officers, the group was apprehended at multiple locations. The police seized more than 800 grams of methamphetamine, valued at approximately CZK 1.25 million on the black market, along with nearly two kilograms of marijuana and CZK 600,000 in cash.

RELIGION Pope-chosen bishop officially appointed in Ostrava

Martin David has today been appointed as the new bishop of the Ostrava-Opava Diocese, replacing the late František Václav Lobkowicz. The announcement was made by Apostolic Nuncio Jude Thaddeus Okolo at St Wenceslas Church in Ostrava. Lobkowitz, who passed away in February 2022, had been assisted by David as an auxiliary bishop since 2017.

David later took on the role of apostolic administrator in 2020, overseeing the diocese's management. Pope Francis personally chose David as the new bishop, with the apostolic nuncio responsible for facilitating the selection process and submitting the necessary documentation to the Vatican.

legislation Opposition party seeks to protect cash payments

The opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party has submitted a proposal to amend the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, seeking to constitutionally protect the right to pay in cash in Czechia. The draft amendment aims to safeguard citizens' privacy by countering potential restrictions on cash payments.

The SPD expressed concerns about the misuse of information gathered from non-cash transactions. The current proposal allows the state to impose restrictions on cash payments to ensure security and public order. Currently, non-cash payments are mandatory for transactions exceeding CZK 270,000 to combat crime. 

INTERNATIONAL CzechTourism to represent Czechia at World Expo 2025

The CzechTourism agency announced today that it will participate and represent Czechia at the World Expo 2025 in Osaka, Japan. It will aim to promote Czechia as a captivating tourist destination and promote a direct flight route between Czechia and Japan.

The World Expo, which is made to showcase the achievements of countries around the world, is themed "Designing Future Society for Our Lives.” It will take place from April to October 2025, with an expected 28.5 million visitors. Czechia secured a preferred plot on the seashore promenade. The goal is to attract Japanese tourists not just to Prague but also to other Czech regions. Last year, 22,283 Japanese tourists visited Czechia, according to the Czech Statistical Office.

international relations Czech ForMin: Russia will be threat for 'many years'

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský stated in an interview with German daily Tagesspiegel that Russia's military invasion of Ukraine will pose a security threat to Europe for many years. Lipavský emphasized that this threat is very real, and if Czechia is targeted, Germany will also be at risk. 

During his visit to Berlin, he praised Germany's new security strategy, which recognizes Russia as the primary threat to peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic region. When speaking of Czech society, Lipavský said that half of it is pro-Western, while the other half feels neutral and rather as a bridge between the East and the West.

weather Storm warning issued for Czechia Wednesday

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has issued a storm warning for the whole of Czechia due to the imminent threat of strong storms on Wednesday. The storms will bring intense precipitation, small hail, and wind gusts of up to 70 kilometers per hour. 

Thunderstorms will gradually form in the warm air and merge into lines, potentially affecting the same areas repeatedly. The warning period is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the western half of the country and from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. for the eastern part.

Legislation President Pavel signs law extending powers of Senate

President Petr Pavel has signed laws that extend the powers of the antimonopoly office and involve the Senate in the election of public broadcasters' councils, according to an announcement from his Prague Castle. The Office for the Protection of Competition (UOHS) will now be able to utilize police wiretaps in certain cases as per the amended law on competition protection.

The laws were enacted to comply with EU regulations and to strengthen the position of antitrust authorities. Additionally, the Senate will play a role in selecting members of the Czech Television and Czech Radio Councils, enhancing the resistance of these media corporations to political pressures.

TECH Vodafone launches Cat-M mobile network

Vodafone has unveiled its new Cat-M mobile network at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, aiming to enable the development of the Internet of Things (IoT). The network, set to cover 93 percent of the Czech Republic's population by Aug. 1, boasts improved signal penetration, low power consumption, and enhanced data capacity. It will connect a wide range of smart devices, from consumer electronics to machinery in various sectors such as energy, agriculture, and healthcare.

Vodafone plans to utilize its existing mobile network infrastructure for Cat-M, which offers higher data transmissions of up to 1 Mb/s and mobile connectivity for real-time applications. The Cat-M SIM cards will be available exclusively to business customers.

Sports Eight Czech tennis players to compete in Wimbledon

Eight Czech tennis players, including Petra Kvitová, will begin their Wimbledon campaigns today. Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, will face Italy's Jasmine Paolini in the opening round. Barbora Krejčíková, Karolína Muchová, and Jiří Lehečka are also set to compete on the grass courts in London. Krejčíková, last year's French Open winner, will take on Heather Watson from Britain, while Muchová, a finalist at this year's French Open, will meet Germany's Jule Niemeier.

Czech men's number one Lehečka will play against Austria's Sebastian Ofner. Other notable players in action include Jelena Rybakinová, Carlos Alcaraz, Aryna Sabalenka, Daniil Medvedev, and Andy Murray.

energy Czech branch of Russian nuclear concern ends operations

The Czech branch of Russia's Rosatom nuclear concern has officially ended its operations in the country, with all employees having left earlier. The move comes over a year after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The branch had been inactive for several months, and its offices were cleared out towards the end of last year.

The cancellation of the Czech branch is not expected to impact state-owned energy company ČEZ, as it has separate contracts for fuel directly with TVEL in Russia. Additionally, the communications agency Essential Communication, which represented Rosatom, has also significantly reduced its activities.

real estate Apartment prices see slight drop in Czechia

Apartment prices in the Czech Republic experienced a 1.2 percent quarter-on-quarter decline in the first quarter of this year, according to an analysis by financial consulting company Deloitte. The reduced demand was attributed to factors such as inflation, increased mortgage loans, and higher energy and construction costs.

Despite the recent drop, apartment prices remain 70 percent higher than before the Covid-19 pandemic. The steepest decline in prices was observed in Liberec (-15.6 percent), Ostrava (-12.6 percent), and Pardubice (-11.2 percent), while some areas of Prague saw minor increases. Overall apartment sales in the country decreased by 9.5 percent compared to the previous year.

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