News in brief for Oct. 7: Top headlines for Czechia on Saturday

Prague archbishop makes anti-gay-marriage remarks, Czech foreign minister calls for greater EU reform and expansion, and more headlines for Oct. 7, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 07.10.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 07.10.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

International Czechs in Israel not among victims of Hamas attack

Czech Ambassador to Israel Veronika Kuchyňová Šmigolová has confirmed the safety of 50 Czech citizens amidst the Palestinian terrorist attack on Israel. No Czechs were reported injured or among the victims. Czech embassy staff also remain safe. The embassy has advised Czechs in Israel to follow authorities' instructions and monitor possible flight cancellations.

While a spokesperson for Prague Airport confirmed there were no cancellations as of this afternoon, flights could be affected. A planned meeting between Czech and Israeli politicians in Prague was postponed due to the attack, with Ambassador Šmigolová planning to return to Israel soon.

Sports Czech volleyball team eliminated from Olympics qualification

In an Olympic qualification match yesterday, the Czech volleyball team faced an undefeated Germany, losing 0-3 and dashing their advancement hopes. They stand sixth in Group A in Rio with four points, eight points away from the second-place needed to qualify for next year's Olympic Games in Paris.

Despite a spirited fight in the first set, the Germans prevailed 25-23, followed by German wins of 25-28 and 25-17 in subsequent sets. Coach Novák lamented errors and missed opportunities, vowing to rebound. Up next, the Czechs face Ukraine at 10:00 p.m. this evening.

Weather Cool weather in the forecast for upcoming days

A cold front is expected to arrive in the Czech Republic on Saturday evening, causing significant cooling. Meteorologists warn of possible ground frost as temperatures drop. Throughout Saturday, anticipate overcast skies with sporadic showers and light rain in the northern regions.

Sunday morning will bring cold conditions, with temperatures as low as 0-4° Celsius in some regions, likely leading to frost. Afternoon temperatures are expected to reach 11-15° Celsius. Tuesday and Wednesday will see a gradual warming trend, with daytime highs between 17 and 26° Celsius bringing a return to summer-like weather.

Politics ANO party weighs vote of no confidence in Czech government

The Czech Republic's opposition ANO party is considering the timing of a no-confidence vote against the government. They have collected the necessary signatures, objecting to Vít Rakušan remaining as Minister of Interior following allegations of Rakušan using an encrypted phone. Prime Minister Petr Fiala has defended Rakušan, and President Petr Pavel stated that he hasn't received any new information to change his stance.

The opposition movement is prepared to initiate the vote if Rakušan is not removed from his post. However, due to the coalition's majority, the attempt is unlikely to succeed. The government coalition holds 108 seats, while ANO and SPD have a combined 91, and Ivo Vondrák, a former ANO member, is not aligned with any group.

Gas leak Gas leak prompts evacuation of 60 residents in Litvínov

On Friday, a gas leak in the basement of a residential building in Litvínov, Czech Republic, led to the mandatory evacuation of sixty residents. Václav Krieger, spokesperson for local police, confirmed the incident. "The cause of the gas leak is currently unknown. For safety reasons, we had to close the adjacent street," Krieger stated.

Police and firefighters responded, including units from the Litvínov fire station and volunteer firefighters from Litvínov. Gas experts successfully stopped the leak, and after hours of ventilation, residents began returning home around 5:30 p.m. Investigation into the cause of the gas leak continues.

PRAGUE Firefighters battle blaze in Smíchovské nádraží

Firefighters in Prague have been battling a blaze at a vacant building in Smíchovské nádraží since early morning. They successfully evacuated 11 individuals, with one woman receiving on-site treatment for smoke inhalation. The fire, which engulfed the 100 by 20-meter structure, remains uncontrolled, as reported over the X network.

Five firefighting units, including Railway Administration personnel, responded to the scene. Paramedics tended to the woman affected by smoke inhalation, but hospitalization wasn't required. Firefighters are still working to contain the blaze and safeguard neighboring structures, with efforts ongoing as of 7:30 a.m.

DIPLOMACY Pavel to be main speaker at Forum 2000 conferene

The 27th Forum 2000 conference that takes place in mid-October will feature Czech President Petr Pavel and Moldovan President Maia Sandu, who are set to be the main speakers during the opening session according to the event organizers. This year's conference will emphasize the importance of democratic nations taking initiative globally. Additionally, in collaboration with the Czech Foreign Ministry, the conference will host the second annual Forum for Ukraine, focusing on how to improve Ukraine’s chances of winning the war.

Recenty, Pavel highlighted the shared struggles faced by Moldova and Ukraine, with both countries dealing with territorial occupations, constant pressure from Russia, and pervasive propaganda. Nonetheless, Moldova says it remains committed to meeting European standards and seeking integration into European structures.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Senate committee condemns Russian abduction of children

The Czech Senate Foreign Affairs Committee has proposed a draft resolution condemning the abduction and forced russification of Ukrainian children in Russia as a grave crime. The committee emphasizes the impact of Russian aggression, which has led to the relocation of millions from occupied Ukrainian territories to Russia, including numerous children subjected to identity changes and forced adoptions. 

The committee urges the Czech government to advocate for the inclusion of individuals involved in this forcible russification on EU or national sanctions lists. This resolution is set to be addressed in the Senate's upcoming session in two weeks. According to the committee, Russia has committed gross violations of international law with the deportations.

DIPLOMACY Czech foreign minister encourages EU reform during France trip

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský visited France today to meet his counterpart Catherine Colonna. He urged for large reforms in the EU and emphasized the need for improved collaboration within Europe, considering the growing number of member states. However, he did not believe that internal EU reform should be a prerequisite for further enlargement of the block. 

Lipavský mentioned that the European Commission is set to release an evaluation report on the enlargement process on Nov. 3. Noting countries like Ukraine, which aspire to meet all the necessary conditions, Lipavský highlighted the significance of this evaluation for both Ukraine and the Western Balkan countries.

RELIGION Prague archbishop makes anti-gay-marriage remark

When speaking on the topic of gay marriage, Prague Archbishop Jan Graubner Friday drew a controversial comparison between promoting marriage for all and distributing driver's licenses to the blind. 

At a public discussion on how the church should approach individuals with different sexual orientations, Graubner stated that while it is important to help all people in the church irrespective of their sexual orientation, it does not necessitate approving all their interests. He said that he was not “able to deal with it.” The Czech Catholic Church has long opposed proposals to legalize marriage for same-sex couples.

ENERGY Govt. makes U-turn on coal-fired stoves ban

The Czech Ministry of the Environment has announced that it will backtrack on its original plans to ban the sale of coal, anthracite, and coke stoves and boilers from January 2025. Environment Minister spokeswoman Lucie Ješátková stated that manufacturers can continue to market these sources if they meet legal obligations. 

Minister of Environment Petr Hladík had previously justified the ban due to decreasing interest in coal-fired boilers and the rising cost of coal. Starting September 2024, heating with old coal or wood boilers that do not meet the third emission class will be prohibited. The Ministry has been providing subsidies for boiler replacement since 2015, resulting in over 100,000 boilers being replaced and more than CZK 12 billion being paid out.

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