News in brief for May 24: Czech president meets British prince

The top headlines for the Czech Republic on Thursday, May 24, 2023, updated throughout the day to keep you up to speed.

Expats.cz Staff ČTK

Written by Expats.cz StaffČTK Published on 24.05.2023 08:07:00 (updated on 24.05.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

politics Czechia to abstain from EU-level Istanbul Convention talks

The government has announced this afternoon that, during EU negotiations on the bloc adopting the Istanbul Convention that protects women against violence, Czechia’s EU representative will abstain from discussions.

Minister of Justice Pavel Blažek says that the Istanbul Convention, which Czechia has not yet ratified, will still be discussed on a national level in parliament. In March this year, the Czech Agriculture, Environment, Labor, and Culture Ministries all asked for a one-year delay in discussing Czechia’s role in the treaty.

economy Pavel – fiscal reform must be reviewed and discussed

President Petr Pavel has emphasized the need for a debate on the government's austerity package to assess whether its positives outweigh the negative aspects. He commended the ruling coalition's courage in taking previously unaddressed steps, but cautioned against assuming a correctness in every proposed measure. 

He intends to consult with advisers, employer and employee representatives, and the governor of the Czech National Bank before deciding to approve the fiscal reform. He would like to assess the value-added tax (VAT) increase on baby water and print newspapers, for example.

health Czechia to spend CZK 3.6 billion of EU funds on cancer care

The Czech Ministry of Health has announced in a press release today that CZK 3.6 billion of EU funds will go towards supporting Czech oncology (cancer care). 

The Karlovy Vary region will also open a specialized oncology center, and Prague’s Motol University Hospital oncology department will receive a large share of funding – CZK 240 million – to improve its diagnostic center. More than 87,000 patients are diagnosed annually with malignant cancer in the Czech Republic.

Military Czechia finalizes purchase of over 200 military tanks from Sweden

Prime Minister Petr Fiala has announced this afternoon that Czechia will buy 246 Swedish “Combat Vehicle 90” military tanks along with 28 other vehicles for a total cost of almost CZK 60 billion. The vehicles are set to be delivered in 2026. 

Czechia was originally planning to buy fewer tanks from Sweden and complete the purchase later this year, but due to rising raw material prices and increased demand for military equipment, the government brought forward the purchase.

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EVENT Protest-attending university dean told to resign

The Ethics Committee of the economics faculty at the University of Economics (VŠE) in Prague has recommended the dismissal of faculty dean Miroslav Ševčík for his role in an anti-government protest, Seznam Zprávy reports.

Ševčík attended the March protest in Wenceslas Square and is accused of being among the violence-inciting protesters who attempted to remove the Ukrainian flag from the National Museum. VŠE rector  Petr Dvořák recommended in mid-March that Ševčík step down, but the dean was ultimately allowed to stay in his position.

international relations Czech foreign minister visits Saudi Arabia, talks business

Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský today in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, opened the Czech-Saudi Business Forum, saying that the “deep economic transformation of Saudi Arabia” is a huge opportunity for the development of mutual economic relations. 

A 15-member business delegation is currently in Saudi Arabia alongside Lipavský, where it is discussing future possible cooperation in the defense, construction, and information technology industries. Ilja Mazánek of the Czech Chamber of Commerce remarked that Czechia’s share of industry in its gross domestic product is comparable to that of Germany. 

banking Banks in Czechia report CZK 100bn+ annual profit for first time

In 2022, the aggregate net profit of banks in Czechia rose by CZK 32.3 billion to CZK 102.64 billion year on year, according to newly published Czech National Bank data. Total bank assets stood at almost CZK 9 trillion at end-2022 – a year-on-year rise of CZK 384 billion. 

High interest rates and inflation helped Czech banks generate more money. In 2022, Czech bank Česká spořitelna's net profit rose by 42.2 percent year-on-year, to CZK 20.2 billion.

UK-CZECHIA President Pavel meets with UK's Prince Edward

President Petr Pavel this morning greeted British Prince Edward (brother of the recently crowned King Charles III) at Prague Castle. Both also drank a pint of beer Tuesday evening together in a Malá Strana restaurant. 

Prince Edward has this afternoon headed to Vestec, a village of about 3,000 people near Prague, where a tree-lined avenue was created last year to mark the 100th birthday of Prince Philip. The British prince will also present gold medals to some people who have completed the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) volunteering award.

Politics Czechia signs defense treaty with US

The Czech Republic has signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) with the United States, making it the last former Eastern bloc country in NATO to do so. The agreement, deemed of "vital interest" by Defense Minister Jana Černochová, aims to enhance the country's security in the current unstable international environment. The DCA does not imply the immediate arrival of American soldiers or the establishment of a military base in the Czech Republic but rather regulates the legal status of soldiers if they were to perform tasks in the country.

The agreement will now undergo parliamentary approval and presidential signing. Discussions between the defense ministers also covered aid to Ukraine, NATO summit preparations, and the delivery of U.S. helicopters to the Czech Republic in June.

Sports Czechia loses to Canada in hockey World Championship

In the last game of the group stage, the Czech hockey team faced Canada. Despite an improved performance from the Czech goalie Karel Vejmelka, making 41 saves, it wasn't enough as Canada won 3-1. The Czechs struggled in the first period but managed to equalize in the second. However, their level dropped in the third period, allowing Tyler Myers and Lawson Crouse to score for Canada.

The Czech players acknowledged their subpar performance and credited Vejmelka for keeping the score relatively close. The Czech team will finish third in Group B and are expected to face Sweden in the quarter-finals.

diplomacy Duke of Edinburgh to meet President Pavel today

Prince Edward of Britain arrived in Prague, Czech Republic, Tuesday. His visit is focused on the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award (DofE) program, founded by his late father Prince Philip. The program, completed by around 7,000 Czech students annually, involves setting and achieving goals in volunteering, exercise, and skill-based activities over a period of six to 18 months.

Prince Edward will meet with President Pavel at Prague Castle today. He will also visit Vestec, where he will plant a tree. The visit will conclude with a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Memorial to the Heroes of the Heydrich. He is in the Czech Republic until Thursdsay.

Weather South Moravia hit by extreme thunderstorms

A strong storm caused heavy rainfall in South Moravia yesterday. Firefighters responded to 40 incidents, primarily involving pumping water from fields and houses. Flash flooding occurred in Brno, leading to road closures. Meteorologists said that there is no further precipitation expected in the region. The storm resulted in drainage issues, overwhelming the local sewage system and causing water from surrounding fields to pour onto highways.

Firefighters worked to resolve the situation, removing mud from roads and furniture from affected houses. In the Zlín Region, firefighters dealt with basement flooding and clogged sewer drains. Although the rain subsided, flood warnings remain in effect for the eastern and southeastern parts of the country.

Culture Mucha heir disputes proposed location for Slav Epic

Jarmila Mucha Plocková, the granddaughter of painter Alfons Mucha, has expressed her readiness to defend herself in court against the placement of the Slavic Epic series of paintings in the planned Savarin shopping complex in Prague. The dispute revolves around the ownership and location of the artworks, with John Mucha, another heir, suing the Prague municipality for non-fulfillment of the painter's wishes.

The proposed agreement to place the paintings in Savarin has not been concluded, leading to potential legal action. Plocková opposes the agreement and feels excluded from negotiations. A new exhibition at Palác Adria, which runs until June 4, explores alternative locations for the paintings.

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