News in brief for June 27: Petr Pavel – 'I regret ignorance during communist period'

Over 20 percent of employees plan pay-rise request, large military donations from Czechia to Ukraine, and other headlines to keep you up to speed. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 27.06.2023 06:46:00 (updated on 27.06.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

PARLIAMENT Opposition party blocks debate on Czech-US defense treaty

The opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) party in the Czech Republic this afternoon initiated a delay in the parliamentary debate on the Czech-U.S. defense cooperation treaty. 

SPD leader Tomio Okamura spoke for over 90 minutes to prevent the agreement from being discussed, emphasizing his party’s opposition to foreign military presence on Czech soil and even suggesting a public referendum on the matter. The SPD is the sole party unanimously against the treaty; the majority of ANO movement (also in the opposition) members of parliament support it. The government asserts that the treaty does not involve the establishment of military bases.

society New report: Gambling in Czechia rises significantly

According to a report presented by National Drug Coordinator Jindřich Vobořill and head of the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addictions Pavla Chomynová, Czech gamblers experienced a significant increase in losses in 2022. Last year they collectively lost CZK 53.8 billion, a 37-percent rise from 2021. 

The total amount of money gambled reached CZK 759.3 billion – almost double compared to 2020. The gambling tax in 2022 amounted to CZK 17 billion. According to the report, around half of all people over 15 in Czechia took part in some form of gambling last year. 

LABOR Hundreds of workers protest against govt in Ostrava

This afternoon hundreds of people – mainly members of the largest Czech trade union KOVO and other trade unions – gathered in Ostrava-Vitkovice to protest against the government's consolidation package. They believe that the government's plans target employees and pensioners due to higher taxes and insurance payments.

The rally follows a strike alert declared by the umbrella organization CMKOS in May.  A protest march in Zlín is also scheduled for today, while another rally is planned in Prague later this week. If their proposed modifications are not accepted, the trade unionists are considering organizing another demonstration in September. 

jobs PwC: One in five Czechs plans to ask for salary increase soon

According to a newly published report by consulting firm PwC, only around 22 percent of Czech employees plan to request a salary increase in the coming months – the lowest percentage among the 46 countries surveyed. 

This marks a slight rise from last year's 19 percent. The survey also revealed that approximately 20 percent of Czech workers engage in a second job, while about 15 percent contemplate changing their current employment, contrasting with the global average of 26 percent. PwC suggests that the Czech labor market's stability, low unemployment rate, and strong competition for skilled professionals contribute to employees' contentment and reluctance to seek higher wages.

ukraine Czechia sent over 100 military vehicles to Ukraine in January-May

Prime Minister Petr Fiala announced today that Czechia, between January and May this year, provided 24 tanks, 76 infantry fighting vehicles, and 645 anti-tank guided missiles to Ukraine. 

Additionally, Ukraine received from Czechia 16 special vehicles for air defense, 57,000 rounds of ammunition, 144 anti-aircraft guns, and various other military equipment such as spare parts, fuel, and protection materials. Minister of Defense Jana Černochová stated that there is still available equipment that can be sent to Kyiv from Czechia.

crime Czech crime unit arrests 14 for facilitating illegal immigration

The Czech National Center against Organized Crime has today announced that 14 individuals, including one Czech citizen and 13 foreigners, have been arrested for their alleged involvement in orchestrating illegal migration from Turkey to Czechia and other EU countries. 

The suspects, currently in custody, are accused of aiding over 1,000 migrants in illegally crossing borders. The international criminal group is believed to have amassed a minimum of EUR 1 million from the migrants. Authorities have seized around CZK 900,000 in cash and two cars believed to be proceeds of the crime. If convicted, the defendants could face sentences of up to 16 years in prison for their involvement in organizing and facilitating the unlawful border crossings.

POLITICS Pavel regrets past views on communist regime

During a speech in Prague 1 today to mark the Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Communist Regime, President Petr Pavel expressed regret for his previous ignorance about the communist regime before 1989. He acknowledged that he used to view its systemic failures as the mistakes of individuals, rather than viewing communism itself as wrong.

He said that, through further education and life experiences, he was able to gain valuable insights and now respects those who had a clear stance against the totalitarian regime even before its fall. He highlighted the importance of these individuals in teaching us the true meaning of freedom and its inherent value. 

Politics President Pavel to make first official Prague visit today

President Petr Pavel and first lady Eva Pavlová are scheduled to make an official visit to Prague today and tomorrow. The President will participate in a memorial service in Újezd to honor the victims of communism and have lunch with Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda. He will also inaugurate the TG Masaryk Presidential Library and visit the Cimburkov Elementary School in Žižkov.

On Wednesday, the President's itinerary includes visits to the Center for Architecture and Urban Planning, the construction site of metro line D, and the community family center Jahoda in Albertov. President Pavel has previously visited several regions in the country, but this marks his first official visit to Prague.

Tribute New Stolpersteine 'stumbling blocks' unveiled in Prague

New Stolpersteine, or "stumbling blocks," were unveiled in Prague Monday to honor Holocaust victims. One of the stones commemorates Emma Ledererová, who was deported to the Terezín internment camp during World War II and subsequently killed there. The stone was placed at her last known address on Wenceslas Square.

The Stolpersteine project, initiated by German artist Gunter Demnig, involves installing small plaques on the pavement to remember Holocaust victims across Europe. In Prague alone, there are now over 300 such stones, each bearing the names, birthdates, deportation details, and, if known, the location and date of death of the individuals being commemorated.

business ČEZ approves record dividend

The general meeting of ČEZ, an energy company, approved a dividend payment of CZK 145 per share, the highest ever recorded, with tens of billions of Czech crowns flowing to the state. The decision was in line with the Ministry of Finance's proposal and was based on the company's exceptional profit from the previous year.

The state is expected to receive a record-breaking amount of 54 billion crowns in dividends from CEZ, providing a boost to this year's state budget. The Finance Minister, Zbyněk Stanjura, stated that the funds will be used for energy assistance. The board's proposal for a dividend of CZK 117 per share, 80 percent of the profit, was rejected.

EU Czechia to receive CZK 160 million in agriculture support

The European Commission has proposed that the countries of the European Union share an additional EUR 330 million from the agricultural reserve to address the impact of cheap imports of Ukrainian cereals, rising costs, and climate change. This proposal comes in response to demands from farmers in several EU countries. The plan must be approved by member countries, who have already agreed to divide a previously proposed 100 million euros among Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria.

The Czech Republic is expected to receive almost EUR 6.9 million from the newly released funds. The distribution of the EUR 330 million is expected to benefit countries such as Spain, Italy, and France the most. Member states also have the option to contribute additional funds from their own budgets.

History Czech archeologists set sail on replica Stone-Age vessel

A team of Czech experimental archaeologists on the Monoxylon IV expedition arrived at the island of Naxos, the largest in the Cyclades archipelago in the Aegean Sea, on Monday. The crew faced strong winds and rough seas in the preceding days. On Monday, they completed a 20-kilometer stage in 3.5 hours, experiencing calm waters for the first time.

The expedition, which began on June 19 from the island of Samos near the coast of Turkey, aims to reach the Argolic Gulf in mainland Greece by mid-July. The team seeks to understand agricultural colonization in the Mediterranean 9,000 years ago. The replica vessel, made from a single oak tree trunk, measures 11.5 meters in length and weighs nearly three tons.

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