Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Tomáš Petříček has reacted to the
visit of Communist Party MP Zdeněk Ondráček to the Donbas region of
Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, saying he was
“embarrassing the Czech Republic”. Mr. Ondráček is depicted on a
video published by DNR Online which resembles an official state visit. He
is welcomed with various other Russia-friendly state delegates by the
leader of the Donetsk People’s Republic, which the Czech Republic does
Mr. Petříček highlighted that this was not an official visit. Mr. Ondráček said his trip to the area was private.
A European Commission directive which defines the maximum costs of mobile
phone calls and texts into other EU states went into effect on Wednesday.
The directive has forced Czech telecom operators to lower their prices by
about a half to CZK 5,80 per minute, with some operators taking their
prices even lower.
The price limits are a continuation of the EC’s 2017 policy to end roaming charges and is a part of the union’s revision of telecommunications regulation.
Hearings in the infringement cases against the Czech Republic, Poland and
Hungary started to take place at the European Court of Justice on
Wednesday. The European Commission is asking the court to confirm that the
three countries failed to meet requirements regarding the temporary
programme of dividing asylum applicants located in Italy and Greece
according to assigned union quota following the 2015 migrant crisis.
Commission representative Zuzana Malůšková said a judgment in favour of the EC would confirm the principles of the rule of law in the European Union. The countries which stand accused say they did not fulfil the quota requirements because of the need to maintain order and security in their countries. They also say that the program did not work.
Czech President Miloš Zeman was officially welcomed by Hungarian President
János Áder at the Sándor Palace in Budapest on Wednesday morning. The
Czech News Agency informs that the two heads of state talked about
deepening economic integration, supporting nuclear energy and the need for
a reform of the European Union. Discussions also shifted to widening
Visegrad Four co-operation when it comes to combating terrorist threats and
In his speech, President Zeman described Hungary as a “defender of European culture” and said he considers Hungary, which does not border the Czech Republic directly, an “honourable neighbour”. He also said that the European Commission “should not play” at being a European government and that national governments should decide on question of EU budget allocations.
The Czech president is also set to meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán later in the day.
Czechs are above the EU average when it comes to drug use and are the third
on its list of alcohol consumption, the Director of the National Monitoring
Centre for Drugs and Addiction Viktor Mravčík told journalists at a press
conference on Wednesday. Mr. Mravčík said problems stemming from the use
of legal drugs such as alcohol and tobacco cost the country tens of
billions of crowns in health and social problems damages.
According to experts around 800,000 Czechs regularly drink excessive amounts of alcohol and more than a quarter of the population aged 15 and over smoke. Marihuana use among the young is the third highest in the EU after Italy and France, while intravenous drug use is on the country is only surpassed by Latvia. The amount of slot machines per 1,000 citizens is the second highest after Italy.
The 2019 – 2027 National Strategy for Combating Drug Use, which was unveiled at the press conference, is mainly focused on informing the population about the impact and risks of drugs as well as on their prevention.
Czech year-on-year economic growth reached 2.5 percent in the first quarter
of 2019, losing a tenth of a percentage point compared to economic growth
registered in the previous quarter, according to an estimate published by
the Czech Statistics Office on Wednesday. Growth was mainly supported by
foreign demand and domestic consumers. The driving sector was mainly the
manufacturing industry, with construction and services also performing
Despite the slowdown, analysts questioned by the Czech News Agency said they were impressed by the performance of the Czech economy, but they expect overall growth in 2019 to sink to 2.5 percent as opposed to 2.9 percent achieved in 2018.
The Christian Democratic Party has called on Prime Minister Andrej Babiš
to sack the current Minister of Culture Antonín Staňek of the Social
Democrats. Staňek has come under severe criticism after firing the heads
of Prague’s National Gallery and the Art Museum in Olomouc. On Tuesday,
one of the National Gallery’s directors resigned in protest to what he
said was the incompetence of the culture minister. Christian Democrats
leader Marek Výborný also said his party has information suggesting that
key individuals at the ministry are dissatisfied with Mr. Staňek’s
Mr. Babiš held a meeting with the culture minister last Monday and said afterwards that while the situation within the National Gallery following the sacking of its director was serious, the Ministry of Culture is the responsibility of the Social Democrats and he respects their decision.
The authorities in Prague are planning to ban "street artists"
wearing enormous animal costumes in the centre of the city. At present
tourists can pose for photographs with 10 or so pandas, polar bears and
Little Mole figures.
These attractions are governed by regulations on street art, or busking, but officials have now decided that they do not qualify for that category. The ban is due to come into effect from the autumn.
The Czech group Lake Malawi have reached for Saturday’s final of the
Eurovision Song Contest in Tel Aviv. Singer-songwriter Albert Cerny’s
band – who performed the song Friend of a Friend – were among the
artists to qualify from the first semi-final on Tuesday.
Last year Mikolas Josef achieved the best ever result for a Czech entrant in Eurovision when he came sixth in the final.