Demonstrations, political rallies and student gatherings took place around
the country on May Day. Political parties drummed up support ahead of the
European elections, various movements and groupings highlighted their
causes in the big cities and students held their traditional open air
May 1st is also celebrated as the Czech version of St. Valentines Day, with couples observing the tradition of kissing under a cherry tree in bloom to keep their love alive in the coming year.
European Union funds helped build or modernize 975 kilometres or railroads
and 495 kilometres of roads in the past 15 years, according to data
released by the Czech Transport Ministry on Wednesday.
Subsidies from European structural funds channelled into road and rail development reached 12.2 billion euros or 325 billion crowns. The majority of these projects were part of the trans-European network (TEN-T).
Police are gearing up for demonstrations of ultra-right groups and anarchists in the Moravian metropolis of Brno. Hundreds of officers and anti-conflict police are out in the streets to prevent skirmishes and maintain law and order. Citizens have been advised to keep out of the city centre in the evening hours.
Czech politicians have been highlighting the importance of Czech membership
in the EU, as Czechs mark 15 years in the alliance.
Deputy Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader Jan Hamáček said the EU had given the country economic and political stability as well as security. “There is no alternative to EU membership and those who say so are lying,” Hamáček said.
“Fifteen years ago today the dream of many generations came true,” Foreign Minister Tomas Petříček wrote on Twitter. “The Czech Republic became a fully-fledged member of the European family of free and democratic nations. Like every family the EU has good days and bad days, but the fate of this family, and our own, is in our hands, that is something we should value highly,” Petricek wrote.
Petr Fiala, leader of the centre-right Civic Democrats said he was proud it was his party which brought the Czech Republic to NATO and the EU. “After 40 long years of totalitarian rule the Czechs returned to the European fold of democratic nations where they belong,” Fiala said.
“The European Union needs to reform. We need a strong Europe, an alliance
of strong member states, where the driving force is the Council of Europe,
the member states‘ presidents and prime ministers, rather than a
politicized European Commission” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said
during celebrations in Warsaw marking 15 years of EU membership.
The meeting at the Royal Palace in Krakow was attended by the prime ministers of countries which joined the alliance in the “big bang” expansion in 2004 as well as others admitted in the past fifteen years. The debate focussed on the achievements and problems of the past years, challenges faced by the EU today and the need for reform.
On May 1, 2004 the EU admitted ten new members: Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2007 and Croatia in 2013.
Hrzánský Palace on Hradčany Square and Lichtenštejn Palace on
Prague’s Kampa opened their doors to the public on Wednesday offering
guided tours on the occasion of the bank holiday.
Both historic buildings serve the Office of the Government and are normally not accessible to the public.
Both palaces have a rich and interesting history and both hosted distinguished residents and guests. The first Czechoslovak president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, lived in Hrzánský Palace from 1894 to 1896.
Lichtenštejn Palace has hosted Queen Elizabeth, the Spanish King Juan Carlos and his wife Sofia and Japanese Emperor Akihito with Empress Michiko.
Two Dutch citizens who beat up a waiter in Prague last year were sentenced
to five and six years in prison and a ten-year expulsion from the Czech
Republic. The Prague Municipal Court found the two brothers guilty of
grievous bodily harm and disorderly conduct.
The men, who were also ordered to pay compensation of 1.8 million crowns to the victim, can appeal the verdict.
The attack in the centre of Prague last April was sparked after the waiter told the Dutch tourists they were not allowed to bring in alcohol to consume on the premises.
The Czech government wants to impose a seven-percent tax on large digital
companies, such as Facebook and Google. Under the plan, agreed by the
cabinet on Tuesday, the multinational companies would have to pay taxes in
the place they make earnings.
The cabinet is hoping the move could lead to increased revenues of around five billion crowns a year. The Ministry of Finance is due to draft a digital tax bill by the end of May.
The growth in apartment prices in the Czech Republic is expected to come to
a halt this year, according to a survey carried out by the Association of
Real Estate Market Development, released on Tuesday.
Last year, prices of apartments across the country increased on average from six to ten percent. The highest growth rate was recorded in Prague. In the first quarter of 2019, the price of new flats increased by nearly a fifth year-on-year to 104,666 crowns per square metre. Since the mid-2015, prices of Prague apartments grew by nearly 90 percent.