Daily news summary


Von der Leyen offers Jourová values and transparency portfolio on Commission

European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen has offered the Czech Republic’s Věra Jourová the values and transparency portfolio on the next Commission. Ms. Jourová will also be a deputy president of the European Commission.

Věra Jourová was in charge of justice, gender equality and consumers on the previous European Commission headed by Jean-Claude Juncker.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš pointed out that it was the first time the country had ever received a European Commission deputy president’s post. He said the awarding of the values and transparency portfolio represented a show of trust by Ms. von der Leyen.

Czech opposition politicians have been critical. Vít Rakušan of the Mayors and Independents said it was absurd that the values and transparency post had gone to a country whose prime minister stands accused of not adhering to EU values.

The Civic Democrats’ Petr Fiala said Ms. Jourová’s task would be to keep the recalcitrant Visegrad Four states in line, adding that the portfolio had no real influence.

Czech Radio rejects embassy claim orchestra chose to cancel China tour

The Chinese Embassy in Prague says the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra itself chose to cancel a tour of China. Officials issued a statement to that effect after the Czech minister of culture, Lubomír Zaorálek, protested China’s blocking of the tour during a meeting with Ambassador Zhang Jianmin on Monday.

A spokesperson for Czech Radio, which operates the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, described the Chinese Embassy’s assertion as nonsense, explaining that the ensemble had failed to receive the necessary permits to tour China.

The Chinese authorities have blocked a number of planned tours by Czech classical music ensembles. This follows a move by Prague’s mayor to excise an article recognising the One China policy from the city’s partnership agreement with Beijing.

TOP 09 want Russian ambassador summoned over “Nazi” comment

The opposition TOP 09 party have called on the Czech minister of foreign affairs, Tomáš Petříček, to summon the Russian ambassador to Prague. They want the diplomat to explain why the Russian minister of culture, Vladimir Medinsky, said the mayor of Prague 6, Ondřej Kolář, was behaving like a Nazi in connection with a divisive statue of Red Army commander Ivan Konev in the district.

TOP 09 chairman Jiří Pospíšil said it was not possible that the incident could conclude with Minister Petříček making a statement in the media.

Mr. Petříček said on Monday that the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs would take more steps over the matter, but did not specify what kind.

The statue of Konev has repeatedly been vandalised. The Prague 6 Town Hall recently covered it, sparking protests, and later abandoned that approach.

Škoda’s new Citigio to be cheapest electric car on Czech market

Škoda Auto’s first electric car, the Citigio, is set to become the cheapest vehicle of its kind on the Czech market. The Czech-based automaker presented the Citigo at a car show in Frankfurt on Tuesday. It will go on sale at the start of 2020 at a cost of CZK 429,000 in the Czech Republic.

The first 500 buyers of the Citigo will receive free electricity from a public network of CEZ charging stations for a period of one year.

Press: Why Czech Army chose Vipers, Venoms over cheaper Black Hawks

The Czech Army chose to buy 12 military helicopters from US maker Bell rather than a cheaper option from its rival Sikorsky mainly because Bell offered greater cooperation with Czech firms, the daily Právo reports.

The deal priced at 14.5 billion crowns included 8 utility Venom helicopters and 4 attack Viper helicopters, which share most of their parts. Sikorsky had offered 12 Black Hawks for 1 billion crows less and included weaponry and ammunition shipments.

But military officials told Právo that Bell offered far more work for Czech companies, in particular the state-owned enterprise LOM Praha, which fixes and maintains Soviet-era Mi-24 helicopters, and the Military Technical Institute (VTÚ).

Bell’s deal also allowed for preserving combat capabilities when the Mi-24s are removed from service, around 2025, the sources said.

Cooler weather causes “heating season” to start in some parts of country

The arrival of cooler weather has led to the “heating season” beginning in some parts of the Czech Republic. Temperatures fell to as low as nine degrees Celsius in some places on Monday, with particularly low temperatures registered in the Ore (Krušné) Mountains. This has led to the municipal heating being turned on after a break of several months in a number of spots, such as in Ostrov in the Karlovy Vary Region.

Some of the low temperatures recorded on Monday are not usually seen until the end of September.

A meteorologist at a station in Šindelová in the Karlovy Vary Region said that such a dramatic turn in the weather was only seen once every eight or 10 years.

Weather forecast

It should be quite sunny in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with temperatures of up to 21 degrees Celsius. Similar weather is forecast for the following days.