Daily news summary

Czech diplomats working with Italians to block misuse of Jan Palach’s name at neo-Nazi concert

Czech diplomats have met authorities from the Italian the city of Verona to try to block the misappropriation of Jan Palach’s name and likeness at a far-right concert next week, on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Palach died in January 1969 several days after having set himself alight to protest Czech apathy in the face of the ongoing Soviet occupation. The Italian newspaper La Republicca reports that certain ultra-right and neo-Fascist groups have long appropriated Palach’s legacy both “politically and culturally”.

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday on Twitter that the Embassy in Rome is in contact with Verona province officials “to prevent the misuse of the name of Jan Palach in an unacceptable context.”

Students at Charles University in Prague, where Palach studied, earlier launched an online petition in this regard.

Zeman: China will retaliate over Huawei security warnings

President Miloš Zeman says China will retaliate against security warnings issued by the Czech authorities concerning the use of Huawei technology. He said in a TV interview on Thursday that some members of the government had information to that effect. Mr. Zeman said investments by carmaker Škoda Auto were at risk, as were an agreement between the company PPF and Huawei to create a 5G network in the Czech Republic and a plan by the Chinese firm to build digital technology in this country.

Before Christmas the Czech cyber security agency warned of the dangers of using products made by Huawei and ZTE. This was followed by a public spat between the Czech prime minister and the Chinese ambassador to Prague.

This week 160 key Czech organisations were ordered to review their vulnerability to attack if they used technology produced by the Chinese companies.

Newly re-opened National Museum in Prague closed for month of February

The National Museum in Prague, which opened to the public with great fanfare on October 28th, after having undergone a years-long, complex renovation, will be closed for the month of February.

Museum director Michal Lukeš told the Echo24 daily that it is quite common in such circumstances to have a trial opening period followed by a temporary closure.

The museum was re-opened on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia for symbolic purposes, but the final restoration is not complete, he said. Certain technical procedures must also be tested in the presence of firefighter and other safety experts.

Education Ministry backs teachers’ unions call for 35 pct rise in average salary by end 2021

The Ministry of Education will back a proposal by the teachers’ unions to raise the average salary of teachers by the end of 2021 to 49,450 crowns.

That amounts to a 35 percent increase from current levels and about 5,000 crowns more than the coalition government has committed to so far.

To reach figure of 49,450 crowns, the unions expect a 15 percent increases this year and in 2020, followed by a 10 percent increase in 2021.

Prague leaders discuss government district and other matters with PM

Prague’s mayor, Zdeněk Hřib of the Pirate Party, has told Prime Minister Andrej Babiš that the capital’s leaders are opposed to the latter’s idea of creating a special government district in the Letňany area. At a meeting with Mr. Babiš, representatives of Prague City Hall also discussed government help in the acquisition of land for the Prague ring road and a better connection to Václav Havel Airport.

The councillors also asked the prime minister if there were an unused state building that could serve the city instead of the Škoda Palace, which it rents.

Czech economy grew 2.4 pct y/y in third quarter

The Czech economy grew 2.4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2018 and by 0.6 percent in quarterly terms, the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ) said on Friday.

Per capita income rose 2.8 percent in annual terms during the third quarter, when the average monthly salary reached 26,442 crowns (1033 euros).

Meanwhile, Czech retail sales excluding cars and motorcycles rose by 6.1 percent year-on-year in November, about 1.5 percentage points above the market consensus.

Weather outlook

Freezing rain or light snowfall is likely throughout most of the country on Saturday. Daytime temperatures should range between -1 and 3 degrees Celsius.