Daily news summary


President Zeman calls for strengthening of EU’s external borders

Czech president Miloš Zeman and the heads of both houses of Parliament Milan Štěch and Jan Hamáček, have agreed on the need to strengthen EU’s external borders. If these measures don’t prove efficient enough, the Czech Republic should strengthen its own borders against the influx of illegal migrants, for instance by involving the Army, the heads of parliament told journalists after meeting with the president at the Lány Chateau on Tuesday. Mr Hamáček also said the Czech Republic has been coping well in tackling the increase of migrants on its territory.

Czech delegation leaves for Beirut over missing Czechs on Tuesday night

A Czech delegation leaves for Beirut on Tuesday night to try to gain more information on the case of the five Czechs who went missing in Lebanon in mid-July, the spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry has told the Czech News Agency, adding that the delegation should return on Wednesday night. The delegation will include Deputy Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek and the head of the anti-organized crime squad Robert Šlachta. The Czech delegation will, among other things, try to establish close cooperation with local investigators and share information that the Czech side has assembled on the case. Two Czech intelligence experts are already in Lebanon working in the field.

Prague to spend 8 billion crowns in EU subsidies on fighting drought

More than eight billion crowns from European subsidies is to be spent on fighting drought and on the retention of water in the landscape in the course of the next five years, Petra Roubíčkova, spokeswoman for the Czech Environment Ministry told the ctk news agency. The money from the Environment Operational Programme will be invested in projects increasing the flow in river beds and the renovation of damaged or vanished areas and landscape elements in which water would naturally accumulate such as riverheads, pools and swamps. While the Czech Republic has invested a lot of money into flood prevention in recent years it is poorly prepared for long periods of drought.

Czech electricity consumption soars on heatwave

Consumption of electricity in the Czech Republic has increased due to the extremely hot and dry weather, Czech Radio reported on Tuesday. According to Pavel Cyrani, director of ČEZ’s Strategic Division, the demand is currently up by around eight percent compared to the same period last year. Most of the energy is being used for air-conditioning and cooling equipment. The head of the Czech Electricity Transmission System Operator (ČEPS), Vladimír Tošovský, told Czech Radio that the country’s energy grid has not been overloaded so far, unlike in the neighbouring Poland, where energy supplies had to be curbed for larger consumers.

Survey: Czechs have poor health literacy compared to other EU states

Czechs are not too interested in their health, according to a recent survey by the Czech Republic’s State Health Institute. The Czech Republic has finished seventh out of eight EU countries that took part in the health literacy survey last year, ranking, among others, behind the Netherlands, Ireland, Germany and Poland. The survey showed that nearly fifty percent of Europeans had poor hygiene habits. Only a little over 30 percent of Czechs passed the health literary test, which shows the degree to which they are able to understand basic health information and services and make responsible decisions regarding their health.

Grain and rapeseed harvest not to be affected by current drought

The Czech Republic’s grain harvest, which is culminating these days, is expected to be good, the Agriculture Ministry announced on Tuesday, citing preliminary results. Contrary to expectations, this year’s yield of crops and rapeseed has not been affected by the current drought, the Agricultural Association of the Czech Republic. The harvest of wheat, the country’s main crop, has even increased last year’s levels, hitting an average of 6.61 tonnes per hectare. The overall harvest of grain has reached 6.16 tonnes per hectare so far, compared to 6.20 tonnes per hectare last year. Farmers have also harvested over 95 percent of rapeseed, with the yield exceeding the expectations issued by the Czech Statistical Office.

ČEZ half year profit slips to 15.7 billion crowns

Biggest Czech electricity producer ČEZ announced on Tuesday first half profit of 15.7 billion crowns, slightly down on the 19.3 billion crown figure announced during the same period in 2014. Weak electricity prices continued to take a toll although overall turnover during the first sixth months of the year firmed to 102.9 billion crowns. The company said it is closely following the pending sale of Swedish company Vattenfall’s assets in Germany, mostly coal fired power plants, and making preparations in line with the state strategy for at least two more nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic.

Kosovo Albanian convicted of murder extradited to Czech Republic

Albania has extradited a fugitive Kosovo Albanian who was sentenced to 12 years in prison in the Czech Republic for murdering his compatriot in Prague in 1997, the Ministry of Justice announced on Tuesday. The shooting was part of a blood feud between two family clans. Shukri Hoti, who was reportedly a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army, shot a member of another family, Hilmi Xaja, from a car in the centre of Prague. The two families reconciled in Kosovo in May 1998 in a ceremony attended by 500 people.

Rail connection to Mladá Boleslav remains closed for repairs following accident

The rail connection to Mladá Boleslav, north of Prague, remains closed for repairs following an accident late Monday in which a passenger train collided with a tractor at a rail-crossing near the town of Všetaty. The two-carriage passenger train derailed, causing damage to the tracks. Two women were taken to hospital with concussion and bruises. The cause of the accident is being investigated. The truck driver who caused the accident claims the warning lights were not working. The crossing is not protected by gates.

Barrel organists perform in Prague

Barrel organ players from the Czech Republic and abroad have gathered in Prague to attend a one-day festival called Flašinet žije! (The barrel organ is alive) organised by the National Museum. Concerts can be heard on Tuesday on Prague’s Kampa Island, in the St Nicholas Church on the Old Town Square and at the Czech Museum of Music. The event dedicated to the historical mechanical instrument was launched last year and is the first in a series of international barrel organist gatherings that will take place between now and the end of the month in Liberec, Brno and Pekařovice in the Jeseníky Mountains.