Czech travel agencies say that they have not registered any immediate problems or calls for a change of holiday destination from the approximately 2,500 Czech tourists currently holidaying in Egypt. All are reported to be in safe seaside resorts. The head of the Association of Czech Travel Agencies Jan Papež said that interest in package holidays in Egypt had not dropped in the wake of the attacks and in view of the present situation holiday makers in safe locations were not eligible to a change of destination. The Czech Foreign Ministry has issued a recommendation advising Czech citizens to carefully weigh making individual trips to Greater Cairo, but says Egypt’s Red Sea tourist resorts are safe.
The ANO party of Finance Minister Andrej Babiš has pledged to return a financial donation from the owner of a company which won a tender to deliver a large consignment of bullet-proof vests to the Czech military. Defence Minister Martin Stropnický from the ANO party, who has been asked to explain the matter in Parliament, claims there was no connection between the donation of 200,000 crowns and the contract for the vests, saying the company had made the best offer out of four contestants and had been selected by an independent commission of experts. Party leader Andrej Babiš said the financial donation would be returned immediately in full and the party would be more careful about checking its donors in the future.
The Czech government met on Monday to debate the country’s priorities in the upcoming Brexit talks ahead of EU consultations on the matter due to take place at the end of the month. Prime Minister Sobotka said the Czech Republic would place particular emphasis on defending the rights of Czech citizens living and working in Britain, maintaining close business ties with the UK and preserving the present level of Czech exports to the country. On a broader scale the Czech government stressed the need for a fair financial settlement between the UK and EU and preventing chaos in the legal order. Representatives of the 27 member states are to consult their priorities on Brexit on April 29.
The Czech Interior Ministry has prepared a legal complaint against the European Parliament over the recently adopted law tightening gun-ownership norms in the alliance. The newly-approved legislation restricts gun ownership, notably by introducing tighter controls, reducing the number of cartridges for semi-automatic rifles to ten, and setting up an arms register. The legislation is seen as a means of fighting terrorism. The Czech Republic strongly opposed the move, arguing that terrorist acts are rarely committed by legally held weapons and protesting that the new norm will only hurt responsible gun owners and hunters. The Czech Republic cannot lodge the complaint until the norm comes into force which is approximately in six weeks’ time.
The Czech National Bank could start increasing interest rates at the end of 2017, central bank governor Jiří Rusnok said in an interview for the financial daily Hospodarske noviny on Monday. He said this would be conditioned by a sustainable inflation figure at around two percent. The central bank ended more than three years’ of forex interventions last Thursday. The basic repo rate has been at 0.05 percent since 2012.
Czech officials have sharply condemned the two bombing attacks on churches in Egypt and offered condolences to the families of the victims. In a letter to his Egyptian counterpart Sherif Ismail, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said he was deeply shaken by news of fresh violence against innocent civilians celebrating a religious holiday, condemning it as a contemptible demonstration of force aimed at spreading fear and bringing destruction to the free world. Our thoughts are with the people of Egypt and with those who have lost their loved ones, the prime minister wrote. Culture Minister Daniel Herman said the attack against Christian churches was one more futile attempt to drown Jesus’ message in blood. Hatred shall not have the final word, the culture minister wrote. At least 45 people were killed in the bombing of churches in Alexandria and Tanta on Sunday.
Radar, anti-missile systems, communications, and other military equipment has been stationed in the surroundings of the Temelín nuclear power plant, part of military exercises which will take place until mid-week. The news was confirmed by the spokesman for the Regional Military Command in České Budějovice, Josef Štěpánek. Around two hundred army personnel, police officers are taking part. Representatives of the energy giant ČEZ will also be involved.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic dropped to 4.8 percent in March down from 5.1 percent a month earlier. Some 356,112 people were without jobs last month – the lowest figure for March since 2008. Available jobs counted almost 151,000. Experts at the Labour Office expect the unemployment rate to continue falling in the months ahead.