News in brief for October 1: Top headlines for Czechia on Sunday

Maria Callas 100th anniversary tour to stop in Prague, State-run ČEPS acquires Net4Gas Holdings, and more weekend headlines. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 01.10.2023 08:30:00 (updated on 01.10.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

Politics Pavel: strong relationship with Slovakia is in Czech interest

Czech President Petr Pavel emphasized the importance of maintaining strong relations with Slovakia following Smer-Social Democracy's victory in the Slovak general election. Pavel highlighted the need to respect the citizens' will and expressed his interest in the post-election negotiations, which will determine Slovakia's path.

Pavel previously raised concerns about potential disruptions in Czech-Slovak relations if Smer-SD leader Robert Fico returned as prime minister due to differing views, particularly in foreign policy. While Fico advocated against further arming Ukraine, Pavel and the Czech government have supported military aid to Ukraine. Pavel's statement underlines the desire to preserve the longstanding, above-standard relations between the two countries.

Europe Czech EU Commissioner points to disinformation in Slovak election

Czech EU Commissioner and EC Vice President Věra Jourová expressed concern about unprecedented disinformation accompanying the Slovak general election on September 30. While respecting the election results, Jourová highlighted the impact of disinformation campaigns, particularly affecting the Progressive Slovakia party.

The disinformation, which included false reports of rigged elections and foreign interference, raised concerns about manipulation influencing autonomous choice. Jourova anticipates that new rules, such as the Digital Services Regulation, could have an impact on online platforms in the next year's European elections, emphasizing the importance of maintaining freedom of speech while ensuring order and respect for the law.

Poll Opposition ANO party continues to lead Czech public opinion polls

A September public opinion poll conducted by STEM suggests that the opposition ANO party would secure victory in a Czech general election, with 30.8 percent of the vote. The Civic Democrat party, which leads the current government coalition, would follow with 13.1 percent, while the opposition Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) would claim 10.9 percent.

Out of the current government parties, the Pirates would emerge as the second strongest in September, with 9.6 percent. Seven entities would surpass the 5-percent parliament threshold, according to the poll conducted on 1,100 people from September 7 to 17.

Sports Czech baseball team finishes fifth at European championships

Czech baseball players clinched fifth place at the European Championships with a 5-1 victory over Israel in Brno on Saturday. Coach Pavel Chadim's team celebrated a successful farewell in front of enthusiastic fans, concluding the tournament with a 4-2 record. This marks the fourth consecutive fifth-place finish for the Czech team.

Despite their ambition for a historic medal, they were eliminated by Great Britain in the quarterfinals. Former MLB player Eric Sogard played a crucial role in securing the victory over Israel. Spain will face Great Britain in the final today, while the Netherlands and Germany will vie for bronze as the European Championship reaches its climax.

Economy Czech drivers taking advantage of low fuels costs in Poland

Czech citizens are benefiting from a pre-election gift from Poland's ruling Law and Justice party and refueling their vehicles at lower prices in Poland. At an Orlen gas station in Silesian Chałupka, just beyond the Czech border, people are waiting for up to half an hour to refuel this weekend.

Gasoline prices in Poland have been consistently lower than in the Czech Republic, and the gap has recently widened further. Despite rising global fuel prices, gasoline prices are even declining in Poland. Czech drivers can save over CZK 7.90 per liter compared to refueling in their home country, making it an attractive option.

Sports Vondroušová, Siniaková eliminated in first round at China Open

Czech tennis players Markéta Vondroušová and Kateřina Siniaková faced early exits in the first round of the Beijing tennis tournament this morning. Vondroušová, the eighth-ranked player, was defeated by Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinin in a three-set match with a score of 6-1, 4-6, 1-6. Meanwhile, Siniaková lost 2-6, 2-6 to Darje Saville from Australia.

An additional four Czech players, including Petra Kvitová, Linda Fruhvirtová, Barbora Krejčíková, Linda Nosková are also competing at the Beijing tournament. Elsewhere, Jiří Lehečka reached the quarterfinals at the Astana Open but lost to Serbian player Hamad Medjedović 3-6, 4-6.

International Robert Fico's Smer-SD emerges victorious in Slovak election

In the Slovak parliamentary election, Robert Fico's Smer-Social Democracy (Smer-SD) party has secured victory with over 23 percent of the votes, according to more than 99% of the counted ballots. Progressive Slovakia (PS) finished second with over 17 percent, followed by Voice-Social Democracy (Hlas-SD) led by Peter Pellegrini, a former member of Fico's party, which garnered less than 15 percent.

Voter turnout reached over 68%, the highest since 2002. Seven parties are set to enter parliament based on preliminary results. Former Prime Minister Igor Matovič's Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO) coalition secured fourth place with just over 9%. The conservative Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and liberal Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) received just under 7% and just over 6%, respectively. The Slovak National Party (SNS) is expected to reach the parliamentary threshold, while the Republic and the Alliance party, representing the Hungarian minority, fell short.

Music Maria Callas 100th anniversary tour to stop in Prague

The global concert tour celebrating the 100th anniversary of soprano Maria Callas's birth will make a stop in Prague on November 1. The lone Czech performance will be held in the Smetana Hall at Prague's Municipal House. The Prague Chamber Philharmonic, conducted by Italian maestro Oleg Caetani, will perform alongside artists like Vojtěch Dyk, Aleksandra Kurzaková, Marc Berti, and Andrea Edina Ulbrichová.

The CALLAS 100 project combines spoken word performances with famous arias, offering audiences a closer look at Maria Callas's human side. The tour spans legendary venues worldwide, ending at Vienna's Musikverein on December 20.

Energy State-run ČEPS acquires Net4Gas Holdings

State-owned company ČEPS has announced its acquisition of Net4Gas Holdings, which manages an extensive gas pipeline and station network in the Czech Republic. ČEPS will pay up to five billion crowns for the indebted company, contingent on its management and economic performance.

The initial three billion crowns will be paid upon completion, with the remaining two billion dependent on Net4Gas meeting economic targets. Net4Gas operates 4,000 kilometers of gas pipelines, critical for Czech energy security. However, the purchase has faced criticism, with concerns raised about potential price increases for regulated gas services to recover costs, ultimately impacting consumers.

Culture Jewish community in Teplice working to restore synagogue

The Jewish community in Teplice is working to restore a deteriorating synagogue in Louny. They've recently uncovered the buried cellar beneath the historical site to determine if water is causing structural damage. The objective is to renovate the building in the coming years, making it accessible to the public.

Louny's synagogue was returned to the Jewish community in 2003 after serving as a museum and archive post-World War II. Restoration efforts will include structural enhancements and the removal of mezzanine levels. The costs are estimated at around 30 million crowns, with additional funding possibilities being explored. After renovation, the synagogue is intended to become a cultural center, hosting events like concerts.

Economy Czech GDP stagnated in Q2 2023

The Czech economy remains sluggish, with the latest data from the Czech Statistical Office showing zero growth in the second quarter and a 0.6% year-on-year decline. These figures are worse than previously reported. Chief economist Petr Dufek from Creditas Bank cited persistent inflation as a key factor hampering recovery by eroding purchasing power and hindering investments.

Data for the third quarter suggest continued economic challenges with companies relying on existing orders and struggling to secure new ones. Prime Minister Petr Fiala, however, expressed optimism, pointing to decreasing inflation and low unemployment rates. He believes the worst may be over, expecting economic growth in the near future.

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