Conflict Ukrainians trained in Czechia to help soldiers’ traumatized by war

Approximately 25 Ukrainian health experts are currently receiving training in the Czech Republic to help soldiers traumatized by their involvement in the Russia-Ukraine war, according to the International Technology Transfer Center (ITTC). 

The ITTC, which is organizing the project, aims to equip these professionals with the skills to assist soldiers and prisoners of war in Ukraine in dealing with war-related traumas. The teachers, including U.S. clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and other healthcare professionals, have experience in trauma and mental health issues. The event is hosted in Prague by the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University.

NUCLEAR ENERGY MPs call for nationalization of ČEZ conglomerate

During an energy conference held in the Chamber of Deputies this afternoon, members of parliament (MPs) advocated for the state’s active involvement in constructing new nuclear power plants in Czechia. According to the government, this rationalizes fully or partly nationalizing the ČEZ electricity company.

MPs expressed concerns about the government’s current approach to nuclearization and its potential disruption of the Czech capital market, as well as opposition from the European Commission. Conference attendees recommended that the state adheres to standard procedures for acquiring companies from minority shareholders. In August, the Czech parliament’s lower house supported a government bill to lower the shareholder vote threshold for company transformation.

diplomacy New Slovak PM to visit Czechia on Nov. 24

Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanár announced this afternoon that Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico will visit Czechia as part of a meeting with the leaders of the Visegrad Group on Nov. 24. The group seeks to address common interests, with Fico and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán calling for the revision of the European financial framework and the EU migration pact. 

Blanár said the V4’s functioning needs to be “unfrozen”. He understands that some topics have divided the group’s members, but he feels it is necessary to discuss those that unite them. Last month, Prime Minister Petr Fiala opposed Fico’s stance of halting arms supply to Ukraine, for example.

housing Czechia sees big drop in new apartments built

Data released today from the Czech Statistical Office shows that in the first three quarters of 2023 construction began on 27,304 apartments in the Czech Republic, marking a sizable 15-percent decrease compared to the previous year. This decline was primarily attributed to a decline in property purchases due to high mortgage rates, as well as inflated construction costs.

During the first nine months of this year, 25,957 apartments were completed, showing a 3.5-percent year-on-year decrease. Notably, the construction of apartments in family houses decreased by almost a third year on year, while apartments in apartment buildings also fell by 6.5 percent.

DIPLOMACY Petr Fiala attends maiden Czech-Kenya forum

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, addressing the Czech-Kenyan business forum in Nairobi, discussed the potential for closer collaboration between Czechia and Kenya. He identified opportunities in the defense sector, energy infrastructure stability, healthcare, agriculture, information technology, and space research.

The forum drew representatives from nearly 70 Kenyan companies and around 20 Czech companies. Nairobi marked the second stop in Fiala’s one-week visit to sub-Saharan Africa, where he seeks to bolster economic ties and support Czech businesses. Fiala expressed pride in Kenya’s role as a key African partner and emphasized the need to advance Czech-Kenyan cooperation, particularly building on established trust in areas like security.

incident Plant evacuated in Czechia after ammunition found

Workers at an industrial plant at Rtyně nad Bílinou, Ústí nad Labem, today found two pieces of ammunition during an excavation process. Initial reports suggest they may be old aerial bombs, according to local authorities. Subsequently, the area – housing several companies and nearby residences – was evacuated. Dozens of people have been evacuated for safety. 

The road between the towns of Kozlíky and Velvéty has been temporarily closed for safety. A pyrotechnician is present to determine whether the ammunition will be disposed of on-site or transported for destruction. 

Weather Krkonoše Mountains see first significant snowfall

The Krkonoše Mountains in the Czech Republic received their first significant snowfall of the upcoming winter season, with approximately 15 centimeters of snow falling on the ridges on Saturday night. Strong winds temporarily halted the upper section of the cable car that connects Peca pod Sněžkou to Sněžkou. This follows earlier snowfalls in other Czech mountain ranges, such as Šumava, Jeseníky, and Šumava.

The wet snowfall, with temperatures as low as minus 2.2 degrees Celsius on Sněžka, created challenging conditions. The cable car to Sněžka was affected by wind speeds of 70 to 80 kilometers per hour, but it remained operational. Lower-lying areas in Krkonoše received rain rather than snow, with Špindlerův Mlýn experiencing substantial rainfall.

Politics Opposition calls for emergency meeting on energy prices

The Czech ANO opposition movement is seeking an extraordinary meeting of Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Parliament, to address energy prices for the upcoming year. The Deputy Speaker of the House, Klára Dostálova, stated that they have gathered the necessary signatures and will submit the request to Speaker Markéta Pekarová Adamová next week, with the meeting potentially scheduled for Nov.16.

ANO expressed concerns about the government’s response to rising energy costs, suggesting that the industry and the economy are at risk. Transport Minister Martin Kupka stated the government will negotiate with the Energy Regulatory Office on regulated energy prices, which have seen significant proposed increases. ANO criticized the government for not using funds from emission allowances to lower energy prices and support renewable energy sources.

Skygazing Northern Lights visible from Czechia Sunday night

Skygazers in Czechia were treated to a display of the aurora borealis on Sunday night. The Northern Lights are rarely seen at lower latitudes, however, astronomer Petr Horálek explained that the phenomenon resulted from a solar eruption, where charged particles from the Sun impacted Earth directly on Nov. 3. The event was particularly visible in Ostrava, thanks to relatively clear skies.

The Czech Hydrometeorological Institute advised interested observers to look toward the northern horizon with minimal cloud cover and a dark sky for the best chances of viewing the awe-inspiring natural spectacle. While the Northern Lights are more commonly associated with polar regions, they made a surprising appearance in the Czech Republic earlier this year, displaying various shades of red, green, and pink in addition to the traditional colors.

Economy Mortgage loan prepayment fee could increase

Czech banks may increase the prepayment fee for mortgage loans, with most coalition parties tentatively agreeing to allow banks to charge up to 1 percent of the remaining loan amount, as opposed to the current fixed fee of CZK 1,000. Finance Minister, Zbyněk Stanjura, initially proposed a fee of up to 2 percent, which faced opposition from coalition MPs.

The potential change could lead to higher fees for newly signed mortgage contracts and new fixations but may also result in slightly reduced interest rates for clients. Critics argue it would impose an additional burden on those considering home loans. A vote on the new fee is scheduled in mid-November, and if passed, it will take effect on Jan. 1, 2024, impacting situations like early termination of mortgages due to divorce and challenging life circumstances.

Weather Autumn clouds and showers forecast for Czechia this week

In the Czech Republic, the weather this week will be variable with increasing cloud cover and occasional showers, which may turn to snow in mountainous areas. A gradual drop in temperatures is expected, with today’s afternoon highs averaging around 12 degrees Celsius, decreasing to about 9 degrees from Wednesday. Today is likely to be the sunniest day, with partly cloudy to clear skies, and occasional showers in mountain regions.

As the week progresses, it will become increasingly cloudy and overcast with rain and snow in some areas, resulting in daily temperatures ranging from 6 to 15 degrees Celsius. Morning lows will vary between 7 and 2 degrees Celsius but may drop to zero by the week’s end, according to the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute’s weekly forecast.

Culture Amadeus film tour takes place in Czech castle this weekend

Veltrusy Castle in Mělnicko, Czech Republic, attracted significant interest in costumed tours inspired by the movie Amadeus. Approximately 315 slots in 20 tours were nearly sold out by the early evening. The event, titled Requiem for Amadeo, aimed to evoke memories of the castle’s use in the filming of Miloš Forman’s Oscar-winning film 40 years ago.

The unique tours transported visitors back to the film’s production, featuring dramatizations of various film professions, including makeup artists and wardrobe personnel. Visitors even encountered a representative of the Communist Party, emphasizing the film’s historical context. The castle park, covering nearly 300 hectares, ranks among the Czech Republic’s largest.


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