Daily news summary Daily news summary

26-08-2019

Annual meeting of Czech Ambassadors underway in Prague

Throughout this week, Czech ambassadors posted around the world are meeting in Prague for their annual meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

As is customary, the meeting was opened by the prime minister, Andrej Babiš (ANO), and followed by remarks from the foreign minister, Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats) along with an address by an international guest of honour.

This year, it is Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok (People's Party for Freedom and Democracy). The three are due to discuss the possible deepening of cooperation between the Benelux countries and the Visegrád Four states.

On Tuesday, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney (Fine Gael) is due to speak to Czech ambassadors about the stat of Brexit negotiations and possibility of a so-called Irish backstop, which would maintain a seamless border on the island of Ireland after the UK leaves the EU.

Czechs nominate Věra Jourová to serve consecutive term in EU Commission

The Czech government on Monday approved the nomination of Věra Jourová to serve a second term as a European Commissioner.

Jourová has served as European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality as a part of the Juncker Commission since October 2014.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is hoping that she can secure an economic portfolio. Jourová said she is interested in digitization, the internal market, trade and transport.

She is due to meet the incoming EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, on Wednesday.

Czech Coal Commission meeting for first time to discuss nat'l energy mix

The newly established Coal Commission will meet for the first time on Monday to discuss coal’s future role in the Czech Republic’s energy mix and address how to manage its reduced production and use.

Environment Minister Richard Brabec (ANO) announced the creation of the Coal Commission this March. The 19-member advisory board is co-chaired by Brabec and Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlíček (ANO). It also includes experts appointed by relevant stakeholders, including industry, labour unions, NGOs and local communities.

Brabec said the main goal is to conduct a structured national debate on the transition from fossil fuels towards renewables and nuclear against the backdrop of combatting climate change.

The Czech Republic is the fifth-biggest polluter in Europe and the 20th in the world in terms of CO2 emissions and the key reason is coal-fired power plants.

Last year, brown coal-fired power plants produced the most electricity in the national energy mix (43 percent), followed by nuclear power plants (a third) and renewable sources (11 percent).

Czech archaeologists discover 7,000-year-old trading station

Archaeologists have discovered a 7,000-year-old trading station uncovered in the course of extending the D11 motorway north of Hradec Králové, central Bohemia.

Research is now focusing on an area just outside the town of Jaroměř, where pottery and stone tools from around 5,000 BC were earlier discovered, the news agency ČTK reports.

The D11 construction from Hradec Králové to Jaroměř will stretch for 25 kilometres and is 60 metres wide.

Other notable findings made along the route include Bronze Age houses and burial grounds and the remains of 18th century field fortifications.

Prague court sentences Fröhlichs, partner, over sale of CZK 30 mn in forged paintings

A Regional Court in Prague has found entrepreneur Jaroslav Fröhlich, his wife, and a business partner guilty of large-scale fraud for having knowingly sold forgeries of works by famous Czech artists to collectors and galleries. They are expected to appeal.

Jaroslav Fröhlich was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay 15 million crowns in damages. His wife Eva Fröhlichová was given sentenced to six years, their colleague Martin Trokan to seven years, and both ordered to pay 5 million crowns in damages.

The Fröhlich couple, along with a business partner, sold paintings imitating the style of artists such as Josef Čapek, Josef Lada, František Kupka, Emil Filla and Jan Zrzavý for some 30 million crowns in total.

Most of the works appeared on the market between 2013 and 2016. The police seized unsold forgeries that, if genuine, would be worth an estimated 50 million crowns.

Overall confidence in Czech economy rises slightly

Overall confidence in the Czech economy rose slightly to 95.6 in August from 95.1 in July, according to the Czech Statistical Office.

Among Entrepreneurs, confidence increased by 0.8 points to 93.6 points, the lowest level in five years for the month of July.

Consumer confidence fell to 105.1 points in August from 106.4 the previous month, thus returning to levels recorded in May and June.

In annual terms, both consumer and business confidence is lower than in August 2018

Scientists inseminate last living white rhinos with sperm of dead males

An international team of veterinarians, including experts from the Dvůr Kralove Zoo, have managed to fertilize the eggs of the last two living female white rhinos with the semen of dead males.

The last male, named Sudan, died at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya in 2018, leaving two females, Najin, 30, and her daughter Fatu, 19, as the only survivors of the subspecies.

The Czech zoo sent four white rhinos to Kenya in 2009 and has spearheaded efforts to save the species from extinction.

Scientists note that the inseminated embryos may not develop. They expect to announce results on September 10.

Czech PM to mark 75th anniversary of Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) will attend a ceremony in the Slovak town of Banská Bystrica on Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of anti-fascist military action that came to be known as the Slovak National Uprising.

In its simplest telling, the uprising was the culmination of years of planning by Slovak partisans, 18,000 of whom fought alongside 60,000 Czechoslovak soldiers against the Nazi Germany and the puppet state of Slovakia led by the priest Jozef Tiso.

Under communism, the role played by the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, the Allies, and non-communist partisans was discounted, and the uprising glorified as a unified action by the Slovak people against fascism in favour of socialism.

Work underway on film about Prague Spring legend Alexander Dubček

Slovak screenwriter Karol Hlávka and Croatian director Lordan Zafranović are preparing a feature film about one of the key figures of the Prague Spring, Slovak politician Alexander Dubček, entitled The Human Face, the ctk news agency reported.

The movie will not be a biopic of Dubček but rather a political thriller that focuses on key events in his life and holds parallels to greater political contexts, according to screenwriter Karol Hlávka.

It is not yet clear who will play the lead role. According to the film’s producer Andrej Antonio Leca the part of Soviet leader Leonic Breznev will go to the French actor with Russian citizenship Gérard Depardieu is.

Shooting is to begin in 2021 and the film is scheduled to premiere the following year.

Pechová becomes first disabled Czech woman to swim English Channel

Markéta Pechová has become the first Czech woman with a disability to swim the English Channel.

Pechová, now 40, had her right leg amputated in childhood due to cancer. She swam from Dover, England, to the French shore on Sunday in just 12 hours and 31 minutes.

Despite her handicap, the athlete from Liberec regularly competes in long-distance swimming competitions.

She is the 25th Czech to have swum the English Channel. Among them is Yvetta Hlaváčová, who crossed it in less than 7 hours, 25 minutes and 15 seconds in 2006, a world record for women.

Czech diver dies in underwater cave in southeast Greece

Two foreign nationals, Czech and Iranian divers, have been found dead in an underwater cave off the island of Karpathos, in southeast Greece, local authorities reported. The two men, aged 60 and 35, had dived to a depth of 45 meters inside the cave on Saturday.

A third diver who went inside the cave turned back due to a lack of air and broke surface, without finding his companions. He then alerted the authorities.

It is believed the two divers lost their way in the cave which has strong undercurrents and very low visibility. Divers from the Greek coast guard's Underwater Missions Team retrieved the bodies on Sunday afternoon.

Weather outlook

Cloudy skies and scattered rain are likely Tuesday in central Bohemia and the northern regions of Hradec Králové and Pardubuce. There is a chance of heavy thunderstorms throughout the country until late Tuesday evening. Average daytime highs throughout the country should hover around 29 degrees Celsius.

26-08-2019