Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček is set to visit the Vatican during a
Czech national pilgrimage to Roma on November 10 and 11. Mr. Petříček,
accompanied by a delegation of Senators, is due to meet with diplomatic
representatives of the Catholic church.
He is due to hold talks with will hold talks with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin and the Secretary or Relations with States, Paul Richard Gallagher.
The National Pilgrimage to Rome will mark the 30th anniversary of the canonization of Saint Agnes, the 13th century daughter of the King ad Queen of Bohemia.
Three people who suffered serious injuries in a blast at an explosives
factory in Pardubice on Friday morning remain in a critical condition in
Prague’s Vinohrady hospital. All of them were placed in an intensive-care
unit and remain in an induced coma.
The explosion occurred at the Explosia plant, which manufactures the plastic explosive Semtex, often used in terrorist attacks because of its high performance and easy use.
Teacher unions plan to stage an all-day strike on Wednesday (6 November)
after their demands for salary increases were not met. Most schools will be
closed for the day or have limited schedules, ČTK reports.
The unions are asking for 10-percent increase – on condition that it pertains to their basic pay alone. Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and Minister of Education Robert Plaga (ANO) this week offered an 8 percent raise.
The average monthly gross salary of a teacher was around 36,200 crowns in the first quarter of 2019 while the national average stood at 32,466 crowns.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said on Twitter that Czech Post director
Roman Knap has suggested sites it owns in Prague’s Malešice district
could be used for hosting a new government quarter.
Babiš argues that building a special quarter for government ministries and agencies now located in central Prague would save taxpayers some 378 million crowns annually on rent.
Talks between the government and Prague City Hall about building the quarter in the Letňany district have deadlocked over the conditions under which the premises would be made available.
Babiš said on Twitter he plans to visit the Czech Post site proposed by Knap later this month.
ANO’s junior coalition partners the Social Democrats (ČSSD) warn Babiš’s plan could threaten the historical locations currently housing ministries and say it needs to be analysed in more depth.
Support for Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s centre-right ANO party has
risen 3.5 percentage points (pp) to 33.5 percent since September, according
to the latest poll by the Centre for Public Opinion Research (CVVM).
ANO’s coalition partner, the left-leaning Social Democrats (ČSSD) polled at 10 percent and the Communists, whose support the minority government relies on, polled at 8.5 percent.
Meanwhile, support for the anti-immigrant, anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy party (SPD) led by Tomio Okamura dropped by 4 pp to 4.5 percent – 0.5 pp below the threshold for gaining seats in the lower house of Parliament.
The opposition Pirate Party is now polling at 14 percent, up 1 pp, and the centre-right Civic Democrats (ODS) at 13.5 percent, up 1.5 pp.
The Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) polled at the 5 percent, TOP 09 at 4 percent, and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) at 2.5 percent, a drop of 2 pp.
The CVVM poll was conduction from 4 to 20 October, after the constituent assembly of the new right-wing Tricolour party of Václav Klaus Jr, which polled at 3 percent.
Czechs on Saturday will mark Dušičky – or All Souls’ Day – a
traditional Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and loved ones
who have passed away.
According to a STEM / MARK survey, around four in five Czechs follow the tradition in some manner, but only one in five are likely to visit a cemetery precisely on All Souls’ Day.
Many Czechs mark Dušičky by visiting and tending to graves, where they light candles. From 1 to 3 November, all 29 Prague cemeteries will have extended hours, remaining open until 6:00 pm.
On Saturday at 5:00 pm, Prague Cardinal Dominik Duka will serve a mass to commemorate the departed at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Vyšehrad.
Dušičky was a national holiday in Czechoslovakia, as it is still in neighbouring Slovakia and Poland. According to the STEM / MARK poll, half of Czechs do not think it should be a state-recognised holiday.
Czech computer science academics have developed an artificial intelligence
system to automatically generate news about developments on the Prague
Stock Exchange, in cooperation with the state news agency ČTK.
The tool was created by scientists of the Faculty of Social Sciences of Charles University (FSV UK), Czech Technical University (ČVUT) and the University of West Bohemia (ZČU).
Testing is set to begin in the coming days. In future, the AI system could be adapted to cover the weather, sports and other topics, ČTK reports.
Czech ambassador to Ukraine Radek Matula was called in by Kyiv to explain
why pro-Russian Crimean Tatar activists were invited to celebrations at
Prague Castle on 28 October marking Czechoslovakia's founding.
Activists from the group Kyrym birligi (Crimean Unity) were invited by the Office of the Czech President. They later wrote on Facebook that President Miloš Zeman had recognised Crimea as being part of Russia.
Ambassador Matula reportedly assured officials in Kyiv that the foreign policy stance of the Czech Republic – that the Russian annexation of Crimea is unlawful – has not changed.
A spokesman for the Czech president at first declined to state Zeman’s position but later said he continues to believe the annexation was illegal.