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International congress calls for stepped up conservation steps at Šumava National Park

Czech authorities have been given an international warning that they must take urgent steps to safeguard the Šumava National Park’s worldwide recognition as a national park. A resolution adopted by the ongoing meeting of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature set out two conditions for the park to retain its international status. The first is that the so-called non- intervention area where nature is left alone with the minimum of human activity should cover 30 percent of the national park. The area of minimal human activity should be widened to 50 percent of the park by 2030, it added. The IUCN previously condemned past park management which opened up the park to extensive logging activities. The Czech Ministry of Environment said later that it did not take the resolution as a demand that management of the park be radically changed.

Union groups call for hike in minimum wage to 11,500 crowns a month

Union leaders and representatives from across the Czech Republic called Wednesday for an increase in minimum wages in the private sector from the start of next year to 11,500 crowns a month from the current level of 9,900 crowns. The meeting in Prague was organised by the Czech and Moravian Confederation of Trades Union, the biggest association grouping individual trades unions in the country, under the overall banner of “End Cheap Labour.” The government has been indicating that it wishes to seek a hike in the minimum wage to 11,000 crowns. Employers’ organisations dismissed the demand as unrealistic, adding that it would represent an increase of around seven percent while current wages settlements are running at around four percent. The government has set a target for minimum wages to reach around 40 percent of the average wage. The meeting also called for average across the board wage rises next year of around 5.0 percent.

Visegrad states support Ukraine’s sovereignty, ambition to join EU

The Visegrad Four countries have expressed support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and pledged to help the country in its quest to join the EU. In a joint statement issued at the end of their summit in Krynica, Poland, the heads of government of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia reiterated that they did not recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and called for the full implementation of the Minsk agreement as the basis for a peaceful solution in eastern Ukraine. Czech Prime Minister Sobotka stressed the importance of Ukraine pushing ahead with reforms and said the Czech Republic was prepared to assist the country in the process of transformation. The Visegrad Four counties met in Poland on Tuesday to harmonize their stand ahead of next week’s informal EU summit in Bratislava and held talks with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman who attended the 26th Economic Forum in Krynica.

Controversial air pollution bill wins backing

The lower house of parliament has supported a controversial bill aimed at allowing local authorities to check what households are burning in their stoves. The bill is aimed at combatting air pollution and practices such as burning plastic waste. It should give local councils the power to fine polluters. The centre right opposition parties, the Civic Democrats and Top 09, have denounced the move as an abuse of individual freedom and say they will appeal against it in the Constitutional Court. It still has to be approved by the upper house, the Senate, and president.

Court quashes verdict over Tibet flag incident during presidential visit

A Prague appeal court has ruled that a Chinese man should not be subject to a fine after being found guilty of a criminal offense during the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping in March this year. The man had been fined 15,000 crowns after tugging away a Tibetan flag from demonstrators against the president in Prague. He said that he did not intend to steal the flag. An appeal court has now quashed the June verdict that a criminal act had been committed but said that a lower court would still have to decide whether a misdemeanor had occurred.

Central bank announces modest foreign currency interventions in July

The Czech National Bank announced that it spent 8.29 billion crowns in July on currency interventions aimed at preventing the appreciation of the Czech crown. The level of intervention is slightly higher than the 8.45 billion of June but way below the double digit figures from May, April, and February this year and the 58.16 billion crown figure for January. The central bank has spent around 563 billion crowns since it begin the so-called low crown policy of keeping the crown at or below 27 crowns to the euro in November 2013.

ČEZ says Temelin second unit reconnected to grid

Electricity producer ČEZ said that its Temelin-2 nuclear reactor was connected to the grid again late Tuesday and should be producing electricity at full capacity on Wednesday. The rector had been shut down for the previous 95 days for a regular replacement of around a quarter of the nuclear fuel rods and safety checks. The reactor, with capacity of just over 1,000 MW, together with Temelin-1, are the biggest electricity producers in the country providing for much of ČEZ’s baseload electricity needs.

Cartoons of Vaclav Havel on show at Prague's Malostranská beseda gallery

Cartoons of former Czech president, dissident and playwright Vaclav Havel by authors from around the world are displayed at an exhibition currently on show in Prague's Malostranská beseda. The exhibition, entitled, the World Draws Havel, was organized by the Czech Cartoonists' Union. Of the 80 cartoons on display around 50 are by Czech authors.

Czech Paralympics team launches Olympic campaign

Thirty-nine Czechs will take part in the Paralympic Olympic Games which launches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday. That total is seven less than competed at London four years ago. One of those taking part in spite of his 41 years of age is cyclist Jiří Ježek. He is a six times Olympic champion and winner of 11 medals overall. He has also been honoured by being made the flag carrier at the opening ceremony. The Czechs won 11 medals, of which one was gold, at the London Olympics.

Czech football manager hopes Tomáš Rosický will continue to play for national team

In football, new Czech manager of the national team, Karel Jarolím, has said that he sees room for improvement mainly in the finishing of his team. The Czech team completed a goalless draw in its first competitive game, a world cup qualifier, under Jarolím against Northern Ireland on Sunday. The manager pointed out in a press conference Wednesday that of the 15 shots during the game just one was on goal. Jarolím added that he counted on calling up Under-21 striker Patrik Schick to the main team and also hoped that former captain Tomáš Rosický would be willing once again to play for the national side. He said he would stay in touch with midfielder Rosický, who recently signed for Sparta Prague, with a view to his return to the national team.