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.
The Prague department store Kotva has definitively secured protected
status. There were no objections to a previous Ministry of Culture decision
to that effect and it became legally binding at the end of April. Earlier
this year Kotva briefly lost its protected status following a challenge
from the building’s current owner.
The Brutalist structure was designed by the architects Věra and Vladimír Machonin and completed in the mid-1970s.
The Czech Republic is lacking around 100,000 blood donors, iDnes.cz
reported on Tuesday. While existing donors are getting older, fewer new
ones are coming forward every year, the news site said. Experts say
commercial blood donation has also been contributing to the problem.
Transfusion centres say that the biggest shortage of blood occurs in the summer months, when the number of accidents increases at the same time as many donors are away.
The country’s postal service, Czech Post, lost money in 2018 for the
first time in its history. Whereas the state enterprise turned a profit of
CZK 91 million in 2017, last year it went CZK 275 million into the red.
However, total losses excluding the amount it received from the state for
providing its services reached over CZK 1 billion.
Czech Post falls under the Ministry of the Interior and Minister Jan Hamáček said the state has been underpaying for such services for some years. His view is shared by the postal service’s CEO, Roman Knap. He also said that restructuralisation would lead to the organisation again making a profit in 2022.