Czech news for March 13: Pavel heads to Slovakia, Czechia has EU's second-highest birthrate

Plus: Czech baseball team falls to Japan and Korea in Tokyo, several thousand protest against Czech government in Prague, and more headlines. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 11.03.2023 09:55:00 (updated on 13.03.2023) Reading time: 6 minutes

Diplomacy President Pavel to meet with Čaputová, visit site of Bratislava shooting

New Czech President Petr Pavel is set to conduct his first foreign visit today to Slovakia, where he will meet with top politicians, pay homage to the founders of Czechoslovakia, and honor the victims of homophobic violence and murdered journalist Ján Kuciak.

Pavel's two-day visit will include a welcome ceremony with Slovak counterpart Zuzana Čaputová, a tribute to the founders of Czechoslovakia, and a public discussion at the Slovak National Theatre. Pavel will also meet with Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger, who recently became the leader of the Democratic party, and visit a gay bar in Bratislava that was the site of a shooting last year.

Fire Firefighters battling blaze outside of Prague

Over a hundred firefighters have been battling a fire in a wood processing hall in Čelákovice, near Prague. The cause of the fire and the extent of the damage are yet unknown. Although the on-site chemical laboratory measured increased values of carbon monoxide, it has been determined that these levels are not harmful to health.

The third level of alarm has been announced due to the higher number of firefighters and equipment on site. The firefighters have divided the area of the fire into three parts, and it will likely take several hours to completely extinguish the flames.

SOCIETY Eurostat: Czech birthrate is Europe's second-highest

According to new data from Eurostat, the Czech Republic has the second-highest birth rate in the European Union. In 2021, an average of 1.83 live births were born to one woman in the Czech Republic. Only France had a higher number, namely 1.84 children per woman.

In 2021, 4.09 million babies were born in the EU. This slightly increased compared with 2020 when 4.07 million babies were born. Overall, there has been a downward trend in the number of children born in the EU, which began in 2008 (4.68 million children). 

CHURCH Czech bishops praise Pope Francis

On the 10th anniversary of Pope Francis' election, Czech Bishops Conference secretary general Stanislav Pribyl said the pope's extroverted and communicative personality has contributed to opening up the Catholic church and making it more accessible for atheists. Pribyl highlighted Pope Francis' informal and open manner, and his willingness to address problematic topics, as key factors in his leadership.

Pribyl also noted the pope's efforts to address sexual abuse by priests and his decision to appoint women to important posts, though he clarified that this does not mean women can become priests.

Military Czech govt. air fleet to acquire new jets from US

The Czech government is considering the purchase of two new jets for its air fleet to transport its top officials. The fleet has been losing its capacity due to decommissioning old jets. The Defence Ministry is drafting specific requirements for the new planes to meet, and negotiations are underway with the U.S. under its Foreign Military Sale program.

The Czech government uses Airbus A-319CJs and military transport planes CASA C-295Ms for long-range and short-range flights respectively. The new jets will replace the recently discarded Jak-40 Yakovlev planes and Bombardier CL-601.

March 12, 2023

Crime Protesters attempt to remove Ukrainian flag from National Museum

Prague Police arrested 18 protesters who attempted to break into the National Museum following Saturday's protest, according to police spokesperson Violeta Siřišťová. The protesters demanded that the Museum remove the Ukrainian flag that has hung outside it for the past year, and refused police calls to disperse. Two police officers were hospitalized with injuries following the incident.

"Who else but us has historical experience of attacks on the state," Czech Minister of Culture Martin Baxa wrote on social media this morning. "Supporting Ukraine in its struggle for freedom is based on our principles and values. There is no retreat from this. The Ukrainian flag will remain at the National Museum."

Sports Czech baseball team loses games to Japan, South Korea

The Czech Republic's national baseball team fell to 1-2 at the World Baseball Classic following losses to Japan on Saturday afternoon and South Korea on Sunday morning. With two losses, the Czech team will likely not advance to the quarterfinals, unless they defeat Australia later this evening, China tops South Korea, and Australia also loses to Japan, forcing a three-way tiebreak scenario for second place in pool B.

Still, the Czech Republic has secured a place in the 2026 World Baseball Classic with their win against China earlier in the tournament, and will not have to take part in qualifying matches. The Czech team will square up against Australia at 11:00 p.m. Prague time this evening at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.

Protest Thousands demonstrate against Czech government in Prague

Several thousand people took part in a demonstration called Czechia Against Poverty at Prague's Wenceslas Square on Saturday afternoon, organized by the group Právo Respekt Odbornost (PRO, or Right Respect Expertise). The protesters carried Czech flags, criticized NATO and support for Ukraine, and called for the current Czech government under Prime Minister Petr Fiala to resign.

"We came to gather to face this poverty," lawyer Jindřich Rajchl, who heads PRO, told the crowd. He specifically criticized the recent government decision to cut an expected increase in pensions, and said that if the government doesn't resign or accept the group's demands, another protest and blockade of government buildings will take place on April 16.

Health Kraken is dominant coronavirus variant in Czechia

Kraken, the nickname for the Omicron XBB.1.5 coronavirus variant, is currently the dominant strain of coronavirus in the Czech Republic, according to the latest report from the National Institute of Public Health. The Kraken variant was found in 59 percent of all Covid samples found in the country in February.

The Kraken variant is the most common strain of Covid worldwide, though mutations from the BA.5.2 subvariant currently dominate China. The Institute recommends that any travelers coming from China test for Covid in case of fever or other symptoms. The rate of Covid remains steady in the Czech Republic, with about 900-1,800 cases identified per day.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Economy Czech egg prices see highest rise in EU

Egg prices in the Czech Republic rose a whopping 85 percent year-on-year as of January 2023, according to a new report issued by Eurostat on Friday. The country saw the highest rise in egg prices across the EU, where the average rise was about 30 percent. Egg prices in Hungary (80 percent) and Slovakia (79 percent) followed.

In Germany and Luxembourg, meanwhile, the price of eggs rose by just 18 percent. Two years ago, the price of eggs rose just one percent year-on-year across the EU, while last year egg prices rose about seven percent. Inflation across Europe slowed to 8.5 percent in February, but the cost of food products continues to see the highest increases, rising by about 15 percent last month.

Image: Eurostat
Image: Eurostat

Weather Strong winds lead to traffic and power complications

About 4,400 homes in the Zlín and Vysočina regions of the Czech Republic are without power this morning after strong winds have led to downed power lines. In South Bohemia, train operations saw numerous interruptions in several sections, due to fallen trees on railway tracks.

The strong winds are expected to be felt across the Czech Republic on Saturday. According to meteorologists, winds can be expected up to a speed of around 70 kilometers per hour. In mountainous areas, drivers are advised to be on the lookout for snow drifts as a result of the winds.

Sports Four Czech tennis stars advance at Indian Wells Masters

Czech tennis stars Petra Kvitová, Barbora Krejčíková, Karolína Plíšková, and Linda Nosková all won their second-round matches to advance to the Round of 32 at the Indian Wells Masters in California yesterday. Linda Fruhvirtová and Jiří Lehečka, meanwhile, were eliminated from the tournament with defeats.

Four more Czechs will vie to advance later today, as Karolína Muchová, Kateřina Siniaková, Markéta Vondroušová, and Marie Bouzková play matches. All of the Czechs won't be able to advance to the next round, however, as Bouzková and Vondroušová face off against each other.

Politics Czech PM refuses to sign Zeman's presidential abolition

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala refused to sign an abolition from former president Miloš Zeman at their final meeting together on Monday, according to Deník N. The abolition concerned cases involving Zeman's Presidential Office, including a subsidy fraud case involving former head Vratislav Mynář.

Fiala previously refused to sign an abolition from Zeman regarding two other cases last summer, regarding the unauthorized shredding of classified documents related to the 2014 Vrbětice warehouse explosions, and information leaks from the country's civilian counterintelligence to the Presidential Office.

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