News in brief for June 23: Czechia, EU countries call for faster Western Balkans accession to EU

Forest dog puppies born at Prague Zoo, Czech Radio still impacted by attack, storms weaker than expected, and more top stories. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 23.06.2023 09:06:00 (updated on 23.06.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

POLITICS Czech Senate to soon debate US-Czechia defense treaty

The Czech Senate has announced today that on July 13 it will vote on the U.S.-Czechia Defense Cooperation Agreement, with discussions to begin next week. 

The treaty, approximately 40 pages, encompasses various topics that relate to potential U.S. troop presence in Czechia and cooperation between the US and Czech armed forces on Czech territory in case of an emergency. Minister of Defense Jana Černochová promised earlier this year that the agreement would not permit the establishment of a U.S. military base on Czech soil.

legislation Govt. plans change in parental-allowance laws

The government has today agreed to increase the parental allowance by CZK 50,000, to a total of CZK 350,000. However, the allowance must now be utilized within three years (rather than the current four). 

If passed, the law amendment will come into force at the beginning of 2024. The coalition is currently deciding if the law will only apply to children born after Jan. 1, 2024, or whether it will be retroactive. Last year, parental allowance cost the state CZK 33 billion.

law Pavel nominates new Constitutional Court judge

President Petr Pavel today nominated deputy president of the Municipal Court in Prague Veronika Křesťanová to become a new Constitutional Court judge. 

Křesťanová expressed her gratitude for the nomination, considering it a significant recognition of her previous work, particularly in the fields of personality protection, copyright, and media law – subjects she specializes in. Her notable cases include examining the authorship of former President Václav Klaus' amnesty text and – recently – ruling on a nurse's claims against a media publisher for disregarding the presumption of innocence.

CYBER Czech Radio websites only semi-functional after hacking attack

The websites of Czech Radio – and – have been operating in a limited mode since a hacker attack on Thursday evening, according to the company. While textual content remains intact, only a portion of the audio and images that had been stored on the compromised disk arrays in the data center are accessible. 

Czech Radio spokesperson Jiří Hošna stated that they are actively working to restore functionality by migrating images from their platform and seeking data from external sources. It is uncertain how long this will take. Technical details and the identity of the attacker remain undisclosed pending investigation. The attack was believed to be linked to a media and Ukraine conference, with the intention of disabling public media web services.

BUSINESS PPF investment firm considers buying Zásilkovna

The PPF Group, a Czech-founded global investment firm, announced today that it is considering the acquisition of Packeta, including its subsidiary Zásilkovna, a logistics company in the Czechia. PPF CEO Jiří Šmejc stated that he would only be interested in acquiring the entire company. Packeta saw a 23-percent increase in turnover to CZK 6.1 billion in 2022. 

Shipments rose by 25 percent to nearly 90 million, and the company operated over 15,000 delivery points across four countries. Packeta aims to sustain double-digit sales growth in the upcoming years. Founders, along with other stakeholders, announced Packeta's availability for sale in May.

DEFENSE Czechia gets new helicopter parts from US

Prague has received a new delivery of spare parts and components for modern, U.S. H-1 system military helicopters, which will replace the outdated Soviet Mi-24V/35 models in the Czech army. State enterprise LOM Praha, which will service the choppers, confirmed the news today.

The Defense Ministry will allocate approximately CZK 1.3 billion for servicing until 2030. Czechia is purchasing an additional eight Venom helicopters and four Viper fighters, while also receiving six used Vipers and two Venoms as a gift from the U.S. for aiding Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

EU Czech ForMin encourages Western Balkans EU accession

At an EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Austria today, the foreign affairs ministers of Czechia, Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, and Italy called for a faster EU enlargement process for the Western Balkans. They emphasized the need for accelerated integration with concrete steps to be taken from 2024 onwards.

The ministers expressed concerns about the slow and bureaucratic nature of the enlargement process, which has resulted in disillusionment and alienation among the people of these countries – particularly the youth. They also highlighted the threat posed by Russia's aggression against Ukraine to both the EU and the Western Balkan countries. Candidates for EU membership in the Western Balkans are Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Albania.

Politics ANO party leads in voter preference poll

According to a recent survey by the Median agency, the current government coalition parties would not secure a majority in the Chamber of Deputies elections. ANO movement leads with 34.5 percent voter preferences, followed by ODS (15 percent), Pirates (10.5 percent), and SPD (8.5 percent).

The coalition parties have a combined support of 41 percent and would win 92 parliamentary seats, falling short of a narrow majority by nine votes. The survey was conducted online and through household visits from May 1 to June 2, 2023, with 1,012 respondents. Dissatisfaction with democracy functioning was also highlighted in an Ipsos survey.

Weather Heavy storms brought relief from hot weather

Heavy thunderstorms in the Czech Republic brought relief from the recent hot weather. Despite initial concerns, the storms turned out to be milder than expected. Precipitation totals were high in some areas, causing fallen trees and localized damage. However, the storms primarily affected Germany and reached the Czech Republic later at night.

Train services faced interruptions due to damaged traction lines and security equipment. The storms gradually subsided, and cooler temperatures were forecasted for the weekend. Wednesday's storms had already caused disruptions, with wind gusts and lightning strikes leading to damage and power outages in some areas.

Nature Forest dog puppies born at Prague Zoo

Prague Zoo celebrated the birth of bush dog puppies after a five-year hiatus. The pair of cubs, born on April 8, are the first offspring of a newly introduced breeding pair of these challenging-to-breed wild dogs. Visitors have not yet been able to see the puppies as bush dogs are sensitive while raising their young.

The zoo confirmed that people can now observe the puppies in the outdoor enclosure of the small American carnivores area. Bush dogs, native to Central and South America, are threatened by habitat loss, declining prey, and disease transmission. The species is categorized as near threatened on the IUCN Red List.

Crime Police release footage of attack that blinded a man

Prague criminal investigators have released footage of the suspects, a group of five men, who assaulted a foreigner in Prague on December 28 in Prague's Old Town. The attack left the victim permanently injured and blinded in one eye. Authorities have released CCTV footage of the suspects, urging the public to come forward with any information.

The police spokesperson emphasized that the consequences of the attack were severe, and the victim's vision loss was irreversible. The investigation is focused on charges of disorderly conduct and bodily harm, carrying a potential prison sentence of up to eight years.

ECONOMY PPF losses after Russia pull out reach hundreds of million euros

PPF Group incurred significant costs in leaving Russia after the Ukraine invasion, amounting to hundreds of millions of euros. Despite this, the group would have had higher profits last year than pre-pandemic levels if not for the Russia-related expenses, according to PPF Director Jiří Šmejc. PPF reported a net profit of €140 million in 2022, a 49% decrease from the previous year, while assets declined by 5.5% to €39.9 billion.

Šmejc emphasized the importance of leaving Russia quickly, stating that principles outweighed financial gains. PPF's investment strategy will continue to focus on telecommunications, media, financial services, and e-commerce, with an emphasis on influencing long-term company outcomes.

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