Daily news summary

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Czech Republic to send 4.5 tonnes of humanitarian aid to China

The Czech Republic is to send 4.5 tonnes of medical equipment worth over three million crowns to China to help tackle the coronavirus epidemic currently afflicting the country, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček announced at a press conference on Thursday.

The humanitarian aid, including facemasks, respirators, latex gloves, disinfectants and protective medical uniforms, will be sent to China on Monday on a plane from Vienna, paid for by the European Union.

The Czech Republic will also provide financial aid amounting to six million crowns, which will be distributed through the World Health Organisation.

MPs elect Stanislav Křeček as next ombudsman

Czech MPs have elected Stanislav Křeček as the country’s next ombudsman. A former Social Democratic Party MP and deputy ombudsman, Mr. Křeček, who is 81, will replace Anna Šabatová when her six-year term ends next week. The new public advocate was elected by 91 of 175 deputies in a secret ballot in the 200-seat lower house.

Mr. Křeček says he will defend the rights of the majority population and has said for instance that Romanies should take care of their own rights. Opposition parties have criticised his election, with the leader of TOP 09, Markéta Pekarová-Adamová saying he would debase the office of ombudsman.

Supporters of Mr. Křeček, who was nominated by President Miloš Zeman, say he is familiar with the institution, having previously worked there, and will help return it to its original mission.

Prague city councillors approve draft partnership agreement with Vienna

City councillors on Thursday approved a draft partnership agreement between Prague and Vienna. The cooperation with the Austrian capital will concern mainly the areas of transport, culture, IT and security. The partnership is being agreed on for a period of five years.

At the end of last year, Prague City Hall signed a so-called Free Cities Pact with Bratislava, Budapest and Warsaw aimed at strengthening cooperation between the Visagrad Four Capitals.

In January, Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib also signed a partnership agreement with the mayor of Taiwan’s capital Taipei on economic, trade and cultural cooperation, while the sister city agreement with Beijing was dissolved.

EC sees Czech 2020 economic growth at 2.1 percent

The European Commission has predicted a slowdown in the Czech economy. The Commission’s winter forecast sees GDP growth falling to 2.1 percent this year, compared to 2.6 percent last year. Next year it is expected to accelerate to 2.2 percent. According to the European Commission, last year’s growth was driven mainly by domestic demand, with household consumption fuelled by growing salaries. Industrial production significantly dropped in the second half of 2019, which had a negative effect on company investments.

Writer Václav Jamek to receive PEN Club’s Karel Čapek Award

Poet, novelist, essayist, former diplomat and translator from French, Václav Jamek, will be presented the Karel Čapek Award by the Czech PEN Club. Mr. Jamek, who is 70, has received numerous awards for his works in both the Czech Republic and France, including the Tom Stoppard Prize as well as the Josef Jungmann Award for translation. In 1999 he was named Officer of France’s Order of Arts and Letters. He writes both in Czech and French.

The Karel Čapek Award was established by the PEN Club’s Czech branch in 1994 and is presented to outstanding writers every two years. Among its previous holders are the former president and writer Václav Havel, Arnošt Lustig and Ivan Klíma.

The award will be presented at the Mayor’s seat in Prague on Thursday evening.

French Impressionists at National Gallery most visited exhibition in 2019

An exhibition of French Impressionists at the National Gallery’s Kinsky Palace in Prague was the most visited exhibition of fine art in the Czech Republic last year, attracting over 100,000 visitors over 91 days.

The retrospective exhibition of Alberto Giacometti in National Gallery’s Trade Fair Palace was visited by over 48,000 people, while the ongoing exhibition of the Czech-born illustrator Petr Sís at DOX Centre for Contemporary Art attracted over 51,000 visitors by the end of 2019.

Weather

Friday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with temperatures ranging between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.