Daily news summary
Petříček: Russian attempts to relativize the events of 1968 damage mutual relations
Russia‘s attempts to relativize the events surrounding the events of 1968 leave a bad aftertaste in the air of mutual relations, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček told daily Deník N in an interview published on Thursday. He said this in reaction to Wednesday’s statement published on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which said that the newly approved Czech public holiday called the Day of Remembrance for Victims of the Invasion, set to commemorate the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia during the summer of 1968, “will hardly help the successful conduct of bilateral cooperation“.
Mr Petříček is not the only Czech executive official to make his disagreement with Russia clear in this respect. On Wednesday, the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček called the statement “absolutely inadequate and unacceptable”, going on to highlight that it was necessary to commemorate the victims of the Soviet occupation.
Five Czech companies to be involved in US military helicopter deal
The Czech Defence ministry on Thursday signed a memorandum with American aerospace manufacturer Bell Textron about including Czech industry in the recently signed deal for purchasing 12 military helicopters for the country’s armed forces. According to the document, five Czech companies will be cooperating with the American manufacturer and overall Czech industry involvement will be 30 percent, the Czech News Agency reports.
The Czech helicopter purchase was signed off last week in the Pentagon by Defence Minister Vladimír Metnar. The eight multi-purpose UH-1Y Venom’s and four AH-1Z Viper battle helicopters will cost some CZK 14.7 billion excluding VAT.
President approves increase of parental leave benefit
President Miloš Zeman has signed an amendment to the law on state social support which increases the parental leave benefit. Under the amendment, the basic parental leave will increase by CZK 80,000 in January to CZK 300,000.
The Christian Democrats said earlier this week they would seek to counter the new legislation with an appeal to the Constitutional Court, arguing that it is discriminatory because it doesn’t concern all families with children up to the age of four.
The parental leave benefit is paid monthly for a period of up to four years. Parents can opt to draw money over a shorter period, with the monthly allowance currently capped at CZK 32,640.
Church representatives speak against proposal to legalise euthanasia
Czech church representatives have spoken out against a plan to legalise euthanasia in the Czech Republic. The joint declaration was signed by 18 public figures including the Roman Catholic priest and philosopher Tomáš Halík, the chief rabbi of the Czech Republic, Karol Sidon, and Bishop Václav Malý. The bill on legalising euthanasia by doctors under certain circumstances and under strict conditions was put forward by the ruling ANO Party and the opposition Pirate Party. It should be debated in the lower house by March 2020.
The signatories of the petition argue that legalising euthanasia would put the Czech Republic on a slippery slope, because it is hard to regulate and those concerned may find themselves under psychological pressure to end their lives.
The proposal has already been criticised by the Czech Bishops Conference, the Ecumenical Council of Churches, the Federation of Jewish Communities and the Association of Muslim Communities in the Czech Republic.
Poll: Slovak president most trusted international politician
Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová is the most popular foreign politician among Czechs, with over 50 percent of respondents giving her a favourable rating, according to a poll carried out by the CVVM agency.
The Slovak head of state is followed by Czech president Miloš Zeman, who enjoys the support of 46 percent of Czechs. French President Emmanuel Macron has a 34percent support rating.
Among the least trusted politicians are Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and North-Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Beck to headline Prague’s Metronome festival
US multi-instrumentalist and seven-time Grammy award winner Beck will be the main star of Prague’s Metronome festival, which is to take place in the Czech capital in June, the festival‘s organizers announced on Thursday. The American singer song-writer and record producer, who rose to fame in the early 1990s with his experimental style, has performed in the Czech Republic only once before, and that was 25 years ago.
Two of Beck’s most popular and acclaimed recordings are Odelay and Sea Change, both of which were ranked on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Friday is expected to be overcast to partly cloudy with daytime highs ranging from 5 to 10 degrees Celsius.